They want stress? We can do that.
Starting off this calendar year were three murders, which our pal Edie didn't hesitate to tell us about when we got into her car at the airport and asked her how things were. Throw in the death of a victim in an Algiers shooting in November and the senseless death of a two-year-old by his father's hand and we've already got one death a day.
The crime rate actually dropped last year? Not only can that be attributed to population growth, it can most likely be attributed to an evacuation for Hurricane Gustav. The police still get some shameful, downright awful marks on their conduct in (not) solving these crimes.:
Like many people in this town, I had to overcome real reluctance to report this crime and to try to assist in the investigation. My work in the criminal justice system has turned me into a conscientious objector to its workings -- its excessive sentences and wrongful convictions -- but I put those concerns aside because I believed that the greater injustice would be to do nothing and allow the violence that we escaped to fall on others.
Anyone who reads the news in this town has no doubt read comments from our police brass shirking responsibility and blaming us citizens when asked about the high levels of crime in our city or about unsolved crimes like the murder two years ago of my friend, Helen Hill.
The police say they cannot solve cases because we fail to cooperate and speak up. My experience gives me real reason to doubt that claim and suggests that any apathy in our communities about helping the police may be motivated more by the futility of the exercise than any lack of desire to see our streets made safer.
I know that is why I have stopped calling.And yes, Helen Hill's murder is still unsolved. We know what happened in the Dinerral Shavers case, and how well justice was served by the intimidation of witnesses, the killing of a key witness, and the (non) willingness of the police in that case to protect those witnesses. And that is all too common a situation here.
That's pretty damn stressful.
We can demonstrate all we want on the 9th, and I encourage people to do so...but some major changes in our culture, and in the culture of the NOPD, are what is needed. Never forget that, and never let anybody else forget that.
This fear will tank this city much more than 8-29-05 ever did.
Update, 1:32 PM: This just in from Big Red Cotton, to help defray the funeral costs for two-year-old Ja'Shawn Powell:
The Ja'Shawn J. Powell Memorial Fund has been opened with Liberty Bank. People interested in making a donation to help defray the cost of his funeral can make a deposit in person (go to libertybank.net for listing of locations) or mail your donation to Liberty Bank P.O. Box 60131, New Orleans, La 70160.
Before you do anything against crime on January 9th, contribute to the fund. No mother should be burying her son, but if it does happen, no mother should have to shoulder this expense all alone.