Monday, January 08, 2007

Your Megaphone Has Lost its Sound.

From today's Times Picayune, which featured coverage of yesterday's citizen forum on crime: Carter, who spearheaded a New Orleans crime summit with the council and Nagin's office in September, said he welcomed both the meeting and the march.

"This -- citizen activism -- is the most important part of the city's fight against crime," he said.

Spoken like a true New Orleans politician.

It's this new strategy they've adopted, illustrated by Warren Riley and Ray Nagin this past weekend. Subtle 07 refrains from directly blaming the victim and instead claims it is the citizens that were somehow inadequate all this time, per comments that not enough people come forward as witnesses.

That's true.

But the real problem, of course, is the criminal justice system or lack thereof, with NOPD as disaster and the courts doing everything but installing the revolving doors.

I've been fortunate enough personally to have been helped by individual officers, as have others I know; they're not all Danziger executioners or bullies, though those boys have more pull than I'm comfortable with. But when shadow-dwellers, those in the gray area, those who would not dare in cities with effective or even functional police and courts, feel emboldened to kill men and women during the day in public, as was sadly the case for Dinerral Shavers, or right down the block from police stations, there is something very wrong within those police stations.

I've had this discussion a lot in the last year: Are humans naturally prone to violence and murder?

After everything I've seen and experienced as an adult in America, I'd say that some are. Most, though, are opportunists and opportunity is abundant here - not for professional jobs, education or, for young black men in particular, a literal future, but for pasttimes of a treacherous order.

Some of this has been endemic for a while. All of it has been magnified and multiplied by the storm. I kept trying to tell myself it would be hypocritical to blame everything on said levee failure, but the bottom line is I was happy here before and, aside from time with my friends and fellow artists/fighters/educators/survivors, who are leaving in greater and greater numbers, am not happy here now.

At one point, even admitting that aloud was considered taboo; you'd have someone like Poppy Z. Brite calling you a "weak sister" who couldn't hack it here and thus didn't belong, anyway, as she did last year via the national press, albeit in answer to loud criticisms of the departed and departing, some of whom may have gone overboard, but some of whom raised valid problems, if sloppily. Labeling people who came back and attempted to live through this flouncers because they couldn't or didn't want to bear it, especially residents whose families go back for decades or centuries, even, seems unfair at best. And there were enough of these remarks from such alleged city representatives early in da post-apocalypse game that they seemed to constitute talking points, orders of speech, for us "lesser knowns" and while such remarks were more common when people were suggesting the city not be rebuilt, still, we can see where this brand of denial, this hush, don't snitch, no bitch, mentality has stranded us.


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