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A Letter to Kendrick February 26, 2010

Posted by The Typist in 504, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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I got another memorial on my last posting of the murder victims of 2008, which reminds me (again) that I did not post a list for 2009. I will get to that shortly.

I went and saw a reading by the excellent young poet Sandra Beasley from Washington, D.C. last night and it reminded me of my own time in that city in the very early 1990s, a time when something in society just cracked and we entered the world of Clockwork Orange. I remember talking to my wife about a trip to Ireland. She was afraid to go to Belfast, and I had to remind her she was in much greater danger in Washington, D.C. going to the corner for cigarettes that she would be standing in the most dangerously partisan pub in Belfast.

And now I live in another routine contender for Murder Capital of the U.S.A.

I really need to get that list up.

I spent some of my time around and right after the holidays working on a vaguely related project that I thought answered the call that lead me to post the lists for 2008 and 2007. I think now I need to go get a cleaned up list posted and call for memorials again, but until then, here’s a tiny excerpt of what I spent early January working on in lieu of the list, a small piece of something tentatively titled Murder Ballads:

II. Dinneral

A man ought be able
to pick up his kid in
5 o’clock broad daylight
without some fool
drawing a nine
or a .40
in stupid fury,

people scattering on the street
slugs shattering the windshield
blood spattering the seats

A boy ought not
have to watch
his father bleed out
in a shattered car
on Broad Street
at five o’clock
in the afternoon.

Remembering Carmen October 2, 2009

Posted by The Typist in Crime, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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The latest shootings were almost a week ago, last Saturday. In the quiet days since the newspaper is full of stories of the person who tossed some kittens out of the window of their car on the Causeway bridge. Today there is mention of a reward for information on who did this. There is no reward mentioned in the paper for the killers of last Saturday’s three dead.

When it’s quiet like this its easy to forget that we live in a city where more people died by murder in 2008 than there were casualties in Afghanistan that year. Easy to forget for most, but not for me: every time I check my blog stats I see the number of people who have visited the posts in which I list all of the victims of the last two years.

Just yesterday I had 26 visits searching for Carmen Leona Reese, who died of two bullets to her chest last October 15. A bit of the story of the crime is told in New Orleans Magazine in a story titled Violent Night.* It’s more a tale of the frustrations of the homicide detectives than of the victims but it gives a thumbnail sketch of Carmen’s life shortly before she died. It doesn’t tell the story of how she came to New Orleans, or lost contact with her mother and step-father in Houston.

There are hints in the magazine piece and a few other odd places of a falling out, of some stress related to her mother and step-father’s deployments to Iraq. We do not learn what happened to her natural father. One immediately thinks of the tales we have heard of the rootless lives of Army brats. All we learn from the magazine is that somehow she arrived in New Orleans, fell into stripping and possibly prostitution in the French Quarter, and that her life ended in sex and death. She was only 18 at the time, just a year older than my daughter.

There is a picture of Carmon on the Internet, a pretty girl with curly hair and carefully plucked brows. She has a smile I might describe as wry if I saw it in my daughter’s year book, her head cocked with a you-must-be-kidding-me expression, her eyes coquettishly half closed. Or as if she were high. Looking at her face, she was certainly attractive enough to find work in the strip clubs that pander to the tourists who come to the Quarter for the casual sleaze of big ass beers and nearly naked young women.

The magazine piece tells of the detectives’ search to learn her identity, how they took pictures of her face and of her tattoos. As they search tattoo parlors and sleazy Quarter bars they find nothing. A guy at the first tattoo parlor they call on says her tattoos are homemade crap. They finally get an ID on Leona, and begin to look into her background for evidence that might help convict their suspect, who tossed Carmen into the weeds behind his trailer and left a bloody mattress cover and t-shirt in the trash can right outside his door.

They locate the club where she worked and talk to one of the girls there. She tells them Carmen was a good girl but was in some kind of trouble. ““She bounced around real bad. She was in a bad predicament”. They are trying to find the hotel where she was living, after learning from a friend in Nebraska who spoke with her a day before she died that she always kept a journal

The magazine story just sort of peters out there without resolving Carmen’s story, moving onto instead another murder, another day in the life of the homicide squad. You can almost her the Law & Order chime. The piece is meant as a verite’ snapshot staring the detectives. The victims and perpetrators are just bit players. Perhaps the free-lance true crime writer credited with the story figured out how to meet his word quota without the rest of the tale.

Maybe Carmen was not a part of the assignment. She wouldn’t interest the subscribers to New Orleans Magazine, who would rather read about a new restaurant or browse the ads for the boutiques of Magazine Street. She is just a stock character in this tale. There is just enough in the story to make it interesting, to titillate and satisfy their readers just as the club girls are just naked enough to satisfy the drunks. If those readers, hurrying to dinner in the quarter, ever notice the girls huddled around a club door trying to lure in customers it is just another part of scene, a distraction just barely more tolerable than the smell of rotten garbage and stale beer.

I don’t know how Carmen’s mother deals with this story, the one the detectives said telling her was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” the story of the fall before her daughter’s death. I only know that her mother grieves publicly on a blog with a handful of messages written to her daughter [all errors in the quote sic].

I know you were being a rebellious teen, but I know I also bear some responsibility for you actions. Telling you I am sorry that I failed in some respects will do nothing. You can’t hear me and now you are gone… Today, I’m supposed to go “talk” to someone about what’s been going on with me. What no one understands is that nothing seems to be going. My life seems to be stalled without you. I have a basic I don’t give a crap attitude. I hate it but it seems sometimes to take it a life of its own. Your brother will be here soon. I sure hope I can get my crap together before he arrives. He don’t know how much I need him. I don’t want to smother him. I think he already tries to make up for you not benig here. I’m sorry I have made him feel that way.
I will write more later. I can’t wait to see you and hear your voice. I know I will have to wait………how long? I don’t know. No matter the length of time, it has already been too long. My life is just going on, basically without me…without you. I still cannot understand how life can continue without you. Well in truth it’s time going on not life… I love you Carmen. My Carmen, I dreamed of you before you existed. Love mom.

What concern of mine is Carmen? Why do I publish the lists of the dead, the mostly low-life victims? Why do check the blog stats page for links into those posts and the Internet searches that bring them in? I wonder why I plucked the story of another young girl named Chanel Sanchell? The local newspaper story doesn’t tell us much about Chanel either, what lead her out of her house that night with someone her family didnt’ know who came to the door looking for her. All I know is here in New Orleans there are too many golems with guns, soulless shells who will take a life without much more thought than to take out and light a cigarette, and they move through the life of the streets like sharks through schools of fish, predators and prey trapped together in the currents of only place they know to live.

I remember what I wrote about Chanel and it applies to Carmen as well. Whatever lead them out into the night with a stranger, a night that ended with a gunshot, both were once small children not much different than my own, as innocent as lambs in the lap of Sunday school Jesus. If their deaths cease to matter to you, matters no more than the condition of the bad schools your children didn’t attend or the trouble on streets you never cross; if the broken families of people who pulled two or three tours in Iraq don’t bother you then consider this:

The next time you see some kid on the corner eyeballing you at the stoplight, the one in the chee-wee haircut with the long white t-shirt, don’t avoid his gaze. Look straight back at him. If that bulge at his waist looks like it might be a gun don’t turn away or run the light. Look hard, as if into a mirror at your own cold and soulless reflection in his eyes.

* New Orleans Magazine does not allow links to their online publication, which raises the question why someone who so little understands the fundamental premise of what the w-w-w in a url stands for, the world wide web of links. So I guess you will just have to type all of this into your browser so that I can avoid violating their requirement by including a working link. If this translates into a link in your browser, that’s not my fault: http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Magazine/December-2007/Violent-Night/

Minor Update: Fixed a few tipos. Someday I will have an editor, who will fix my tipos and buy me lunch every now and then. Apply within.

Still Waiting, Still Dreaming November 28, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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“Nothing to be done.”
–Estragon in Beckett’s
“Waiting for Godot”

Was it a year ago or more that I found something comforting in New Orleans’ embrace of Samuel Beckett’s dark play “Waiting for Godot”. There was certainly something apt about it, to be embraced by those so many who stand in a barren landscape and wait, our frantic debates simply filling the time while we wait for some abstract Redemption.

If we wait, we will find ourselves like Beckett’s characters, left despondent by the news that Godot will not come today, and may or may not come tomorrow, debating how we might go about hanging ourselves and in what order. At least that’s the cheerful feeling I take away from reading the paper this week.

First there was the CNN One Crime at a Time special on crime and corruption in New Orleans. It was a sloppy piece in many ways, giving a complete pass to Mayor C. Ray Nagin on corruption and focusing on excessive use of city cars as its best example of dysfunctional government. Blogger Mominem of Tin Can Trailer Trash offered this better list in an email discussion of the city’s dysfunction, and called us a Failed State.

I don’t know about “broken windows” but “broken government” is certainly an thread. As far as I can tell there is not a single process in City Government that works up to the level of incompetence.
It takes 4-6 months to correct an error in property taxes.
It takes 2 years to get a property tax refund and you can’t apply over payments to future taxes.
The Sanitation Department doesn’t know what houses to tear down
The Police can’t keep track of evidence.
The DA can’t file motions to seize cash from drug dealers.
The Sanitation Department doesn’t know how many houses it’s being billed for, so it just pays the same amount every month.
The City has no idea how many cars it owns, who has them or who uses city gas credit cards.
The IT department can’t get crime cameras installed.
The IT department can’t get crime camera’s repaired.
It takes the city a year to get computers for the [Inspector General].

Our Chief of Police, Warren Riley, was also given free reign to rehearse his stock hand-wringing speech about poverty and bad schools, while offering no hope or relief for either his beleaguered officers or the citizens. It was a speech I would get to hear twice this week, which I will get to in a minute.

Then came the announcement that our Betters have come to a decision on building a new hospital complex downtown. Rather than take the advice of the citizens to rehab the historic Charity complex (and some some loot to boot), or perhaps to take the idle ruin of old Lindy Boggs/Mercy Hospital in my own neighborhood of Mid-City, they will instead demolish an entire neighborhood of hundreds of homes in lower Mid-City to build their bio-science field of dreams.

One ignored side effect of this is that the area where I worked for the last year-and-a-half, the north side of the Central Business District, will remain mostly a ghost town of abandoned commercial buildings. All that is needed to complete the hair-brained scheme to convert downtown into some sort of condominium time-share hell is the other bright idea of our recovery leaders to move the civil district courts into the criminal justice complex down Tulane Avenue (adjacent to the new Hospital World), leaving the city’s commercial center a whistling ghost town.

I could go on, but I think Karen of Squandered Heritage has said it all.

Then there was the joyous holiday news that New Orleans is once again Queen of the South, and perhaps of all America and much of the world, a true leader in the field of crimes committed in our streets. Riley predictably attacked the statistics (as City Hall will do when they hear bad news about the city), and gave again his standing spiel on poverty, bad schools and crime, but offered no vision for how to get out of the hell whole the city has found itself in.

Again, I defer to Jarvis DeBerry, who pretty much sums up my own reaction here.

There is no hope under Louisiana law of recalling Nagin and booting Riley or the rest of the band of buffoons who make up his administration. (Still, go sign the petitions anyway). So many opportunities we have missed, from squashing the culture of crime as the city slowly repopulated to turnig a city full of aging and dilapidated homes into a vibrant place again, to perhaps “shrink the footprint” of the city into a space more easily defending against flooding not by government fiat but my making the city core an attractive place to live again.

Nothing to be done, Estragon says. I don’t want to sink into that sort of lyrical dog philosopher cynicism. There is so much to be done. If we cannot drive out Nagin and his crony’s short of a touch-and-pitchfork assault on their castle, then there is a life to be lived here, to day-by-day prove the naysayers wrong. There are letters to write, calls to be made and petitions to be signed. There is a band to see tonight with old friends on Frenchman Street, and a meal to be eaten with my visiting father-in-law in one of our favorite restaurants.

There is the day to day battle of New Orleans: not a glorious moment like the defeat of the British in 1815 or an ignominious one like the uprising of the Klan against Reconstruction. This is the long campaign to make this city livable again by the act of living here against all odds and saving what we can. When Nagin and his crew are memories we will still be here.

Remember Them All November 21, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Remember Brian Thickstnan and Kendrick Thomas, murdered in front of a broken crime camera. (See the post on Humid City).

Five Years August 21, 2008

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Three years August and the storms are being named like epic ships, a doom upon our shore, and I think of the levees still leaking and of the flood-walls patched with paper mache, our Potemkin defenses are not ready and we are not ready and the Big One is out there, invisible, a mighty wind, waiting for us. Someone empties a pistol into the night and I think of Jessica and Chanel and Helen and Dinerral as I watch the MPs in their Humvees roll by like armored ghosts. I think of the streets running into blocks running into miles of houses houses houses houses houses empty eyed with plywood doors and ragged lawns. And I think I’ll have another drink and light another cigarette and then another drink and then–I stop thinking. That is when this song comes into my head. It is a compulsion, like bitting ones nails until they smart and bleed, this thought that what we blog may not be our Genesis but an Apocalypse, the history of the end. And yet we stay because to live here is to walk through wrack and ruin counting the flowers in the weeds and discover you are not alone, everywhere there are people smiling, people with crumpled souls and rough stomachs, suffering what you are suffering, worse than you are suffering, suffering beyond your imagining and all for the sake of this place, because they see this city as you do, because they are the figures in the frame that make the landscape. A terrible beauty spills out of their eyes like tears and bathes the city in light.

Come On Now We’re Marching To the Sea August 18, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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I have no set theory to go by. I have not worked out the science of satyagraha in its entirety. I am still groping. You can join me in my quest if it appeals to you and you feel the call.
— Gandhi

What will another crime march do?

A better question: What will happen if we do not march?

Nothing.

I’m with ReX and UNITED FOR PEACE.

I say we march. A march for all the victims. Not just for Helen Hill or Dinerral Shavers or Jessica Hawk or Nia Robertson. For No. 37. For George Hankton. For Chanel. For all the others people come to this blog every day to search for some trace of. For the famously remembered and the almost forgotten.

For ourselves.

(For some background on the picture above, see Child of Desire on Wet Bank Guide from December, 2005.)

Recovery, Courage, Leadership and Nausea August 14, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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As fond as we are of the Odd, there are moments when it seems Toulouse Street has slipped into the Twlight Zone, and hot in a happy way. It is like the fellow who wakes up after the apocalypse free to read every book in the NYC Library, only to drop and break his classes.

Receiving a link to this in an email was one of those moments.

The Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage and Leadership to C. Ray Nagin? W. T. F.

I think we need to find out 1) who is behind this bizarre event and 2) let them know we’re taking this circulated email to be an invitation. I hope they have a big room, because we are all coming looking for some explanation of this insanity.

This event should no more take place than the ill advised 8-29 party the Mayor once proposed for 2006. What sort of people are sponsoring this? No one outside of the mayor’s own staff or family could possibly take this seriously.

Update: Read this, in particular the part about the hit-and-run victim. At what point do we declare we live in a failed state and either begin to organize militias for our own protection, or request the protection of the international community?

A hit and run driver, who left a Bywater resident and business owner bleeding in the street with protruding broken bones, telling the victim, “I never hit you”, can only be ticketed for a misdemeanor, and then only if witnesses come along for the arrest to identify him to his face. The Ticketed driver would not be arrested, nor the witness protected.

The police asked a witness, a single women who lives near by, to accompany them to the front porch, where almost a dozen young men were gathered, and stand there pointing out the one who drove the vehicle so cold bloodedly over her friend, while his friends watched her make the identification. The cops said they would issue a traffic citation upon her identification, but make no arrest.

She must pass this house on an almost daily basis.

Another, happier Update: At least now I am laughing: How long can the Excellence in Recovery Host Committee hold a bong hit before laughing hysterically? Thanks, Schroeder.

Remembering No. 37 July 29, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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The New Orleans Times-Picayune has started an excellent series chronicling the investigation into one of the city’s homicides. As easy as it is to pick on our on-again, off-again local newspaper, every now and then they put up something like this and you think: Pulitzer.

Having taken more than a passing interest in the forgotten victims of the city’s murder epidemic, I applaud the TP for investing the effort in this series. It reminds us that the assumption so common here–it’s happens to “them”, in “their” neighborhoods, places I would never visit; it’s all black-on-black and drug related, and so it is unimportant to me–is a false one. It’s a comfortable lie we can no longer afford.

Victim No. 37 of 2008 does not fit into that false bottomed box. We learn installment two he “had no police record. That’s rare in a New Orleans killing: As often as not, the detectives seek justice for victims who might be shooters themselves, or at least players in drugs and guns… had been an altar boy. [He]attended catechism classes at nearby Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church. He planned to be confirmed soon at the altar, the religious rite of passage into adulthood.”

When the newspaper visited his home, there was a picture of No. 37 and the only girlfriend he ever had on this desk, next to a neat stack of homework in progress. The room was littered with video games. He was by all accounts pretty much the same as my own kids. And now he is dead, guiltyof being at the wrong place at the wrong time on his way to buy some snacks at the convenience store up the street. If you have kids and live in, say, Metairie or the Northshore or even nice, mostly safe Lakeview, next time you think this happens to “them” take a hard and long look at your own child. Then tell yourself it doesn’t matter.

Lance Michael Zarders, 17, was No. 37. Thanks to this story he is not just another name on the list or a dot on a map. He has a name, and a face, and a story told. He is remembered.

If you find youself here and you know one of the anonymous victims, those who get only a line or two in the newspaper and then disappear, I encourage you to take a few moments and leave a comment. You can do it on the 2007 list post, where I still get a dozen or more vistors every day. Tell us something about them. It doesn’t matter if they were a victim in 2007 (and on that list) or 2006 or 2008. Just help us all to remember.

###

Big h/t to M.D. for his 2008 tracking maps and everything else he does to make sure this issue doesn’t go away. His maps are one way in which we remember.

Be Nice or Leave July 25, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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I wasn’t going to write about anything except the beach this week, giving myself as much of a rest on all fronts as possible. This morning I could not resist dropping into Google Reader, where I found this news:

a sign Dr. Bob made, welcoming visitors to the Bywater. It sits on private property, owned by NOCCA, a bastion of the arts, next to X/O Gallery, another bastion of the arts. The sign itself was hand painted by local legend, Dr. Bob, who has his work displayed in the Smithsonian Museum, and on Oprah Winfrey’s wall, for crissake.

And there it is. A two by three foot sign, beautifully trimmed in bottle caps, as Bob’s pieces are…Except for the gray paint. Battleship ugly fucking gray paint, rolled sloppily over the face of the sign, leaving obvious roller patterns and see-through spatter. That Asshole From Hell, Fred Radtke, has been here.

Here is an example of Dr. Bob’s art. He was featured in the New Orleans Magazine as one of the 97 Quirky New Orleans Discoveries recently, and as Lord David points out he is a nationally recognized folk artist. He is not some tagger spraying his nickname all over a railroad car.

Be Nice or Leave: excellent advice for Fred Radtke.

Radtke, you are a fuckmook. We don’t want you here in our city, anymore than we want the Klan-nostalgic commenters on the NOLA.Com stories. Why don’t you just to spray paint crap out in Metairie, where all the kiddie-taggers from from anyway. Oh, they might shoot your ass?

I’m still waiting for Shelly Midura to send me the Official List list of police-sanctioned forms of armed vigilantism. I mean, if they condone this fuckmook walking around with a pistol in his belt I would like to know what other sort of armed vigilantism we might be able to avail ourselves of to help with other crime problems.

Fuckmook.

I personally look forward to picking up a pice of art donated from NoLaRising’s paint party Saturday at the FYYFF Ashley Morris benefit Saturday night. I’m going to nail it to the front of my house.

Update: Before and after pictures.
http://drunah.livejournal.com/1049540.html

Soldier Boys June 22, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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You need to read this today. In fact, don’t read another world I’ve written until you read it.

This is not how I grew up in this same city, out on the Bunny Bread lakefront. A person needed to be ready to fight when cornered, but there was nothing like Cliff describes at all. Once when another gang of guys came to our neighborhood specifically looking for trouble, we all stood there in two tableau as artificial as a scene from West Side Story until our friends in the Levee Board Police showed up and everyone scrambled. What was funny about that day was we ended up helping the guys from the other hood through out thicket of shortcuts in Lake Vista, as secret and secure as as the Ho Chi Minn trail, so they could escape the police. At some level we were more alike than we thought ourselves to be.

I think I’ve understood the situation Cliff describes to be a large part of the problem we have in New Orleans, but this is the first time someone has summed it up so clearly. (You did go read his post, right?)

I don’t know how to change this anymore than I know how to take all the folks in Lakeview or Metairie (some my oldest friends) and shake the ingrained racism out of them. We were fed it with our mother’s milk, and I know there is a lot of reinforcement all through life if you choose to seek it out, to make that a part of one’s identify. I also know that it can be overcome if only like an alcoholic’s journey, one day at a time because we decide not to be that person we were somehow programmed to be.

We are all like dogs over bred to some task and liable to neurosis if deprived of sheep to herd or the right sort of a hunt. We can change ourselves, one at a time. How we change whole neighborhoods, whole wards, whole peoples: I don’t know any more than Cliff does. He can behave one way at home, but is forced to behave another to run the gauntlet of a grocery trip to Wal-Mart at River Place.

But we have to think of something. We have to start somewhere.

The Real Storm Season Begins June 3, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Forget the National Hurricane Center and Dr. Grey and that transgendered tropical storm in the Bay of Campeche.

The real summer storm may already be upon us.

Violence erupts in Jefferson Parish

by Allen Powell, The Times-Picayune Monday June 02, 2008, 12:15 PM
Three people were murdered and six others shot in Jefferson Parish in an unusually violent weekend in Jefferson Parish, leaving investigators scrambling to pick up the pieces this morning.

In addition to the murders and shootings, two cuttings and several armed robberies were reported throughout the parish. The incidents were almost evenly divided between the West Bank and East Bank and began Friday night shortly before 11 p.m. and continued until Monday morning, according to alerts.

You know, for all our bad rep, sometime we are flat out pikers when it comes to killing each other.

Wake
Tell all my mourners
To mourn in red —
Cause there ain’t no sense
In my bein’ dead.
— Langston Hughes

Thank you, Wendy and Keyonna May 15, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Crime, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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A while back I posted up a list of all of the people listed by m.d. filter as having died by criminal violence in New Orleans in 2007. I invited anyone who came to the sight to leave their own memorials to those who died.

Not a day goes by that I don’t have visitors coming in from Google or somewhere else to that page, a constant reminder on those days when the newspaper is free of reports of another shooting. Not many people leave comments, but I got two in one day and thought I should call them out. Please go read Wendy and Keyonna’s comments on the post Silence is Violence Remembers.

I get almost daily visits for George Hankton. I don’t know who he was, but a lot of people are looking for somone by that name, and I can’t find any famous person who matches up

The Hard Questions May 8, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Crime, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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“And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.”
— Audie Lorde

Cliff of Cliff’s Crib blog asks some hard questions about crime and how people deal with it:

“Last week, when I read the story of those guys that kicked in that door on Laharpe St. and shot those three people, the first thing I thought about was “well, at least they didn’t shoot the baby. Had they shot the baby too, we would have been outraged because the baby is not part of the game. Since they let the baby live, there is part of us that considers that kind of event part of the life those folks choose to live. The question is how can that be ok when the folks in question are our family, friends, classmates, and neighbors.”

Maybe it’s not my place to jump into this discussion, since his blog post directly addresses the local African-American community and bloggers of color in particular. (Not in that quote but in the longer piece). Me, I’m as white as a truck load of of Bunny Bread. But I live here, too, and not enough people of any sort are asking the hard question: how can we just let this go one because it’s “them”, whether that’s a class them (we’re not in the ‘hood, that’s not us) or a race question (they’re black, I’m white; that’s not us).

It’s the hard question everyone in every community in this town regardless of race or section needs to be asking themselves.

I think about this every day. Earlier this year, I posted up a list of all of the people who died violently in New Orleans on this site. And not a day goes by but someone comes by searching for one of those who died. I don’t know who George Hankton was, but there seem to be a lot of people with access to the internet who cared. Someone Googling that name shows up almost every day. Still, no one who knew him leaves a comment on that page. I’ve looked out on the net myself for any more info, but there are only a couple of cryptic “my cousin died” posts on My Space pages that are marked private. The Book wrote a post about his cousin Chanell Sanchell which prompted a post of my own, but most of those who die vanish into obscurity, forgotten by all but those who knew them personally.

What happened to George Hankton (age 40, not some punk kid) and Chanell Schanell should be the concern of everyone who choses to live here, who insists on making New Orleans home. The death of every person here by violence is your concern. If you think it’s not your concern, you’re probably reading the wrong web page. This blog is primarily about New Orleans, and if you think you care about New Orleans and don’t care about the young black men (and women) dying in the streets, well, then you don’t care about New Orleans as deeply as you think you do.

The problem is none of us know what to do about it. I don’t. Cliff admits he doesn’t. Our so-called leaders sure as hell don’t have a clue. But before we get to answers, at least we ought to be able to start with some questions. We’ll take the easy ones first. How did this come about? And what can I do today that will make it stop, someday? I don’t have the answer for the 13-year olds who were just busted for sticking people up in my neighborhood. They’re the age of my own son, and may be lost already. But they probably have little brother’s and sisters going to Recovery District schools. Will they even have a chance at something better, something other than what their brothers found? Are these siblings their only role models? What about the culture these kids pick up on TV and the radio glorifying what their “big” brothers did? What about the people who profit by recording and broadcasting that?

Who are these kids’ role models? What about everyone who fled certain parts of the city but stayed “in New Orleans” (if you tell people when you’re out of town that “I’m from New Orleans, then yes that’s you regardless of where you actually live). It doesn’t matter if you fled into the suburbs and Catholic school in the early ’60s or into the East and the magnet schools in the 70s and 80s: all the people who could make a difference–white and black–seem to have turned their back on the weakest among us. This city is ringed by churches full of Good Christians who seemed to have slept through all of the homilies they ever heard.

The kids who are killing and dying, and the families they come from, were left behind like too many animals in a too small a cage with not enough to eat, and you don’t need a degree in sociology to figure out how that plays out. And now many of the best and brightest of the people who grew up in the hard neighborhoods aren’t coming back from The Evacuation. They’ve discovered a place where jobs pay decently and the schools work. They’re the next wave of the middle-class out-of-poverty story, and how many of them are staying in Atlanta or Texas or Nashville?

I think only the hand of a loving god could reach down and pluck some teenager with a pistol in his waste band off the streets and save him. I’m pretty sure I can’t, and I doubt the rest of you could either. But we have to start somewhere. The first step is to decide to give a damn. The next step is to figure out the next step. If I knew what it was I’d be charging you $1,500 for the advice and trying to sell you the companion books and tapes. I don’t have the answers, but I have an inkling of what the questions are. And thanks to Cliff (and The Book and m.d. filter) the impulse to start to ask them. That’s a beginning.

Blue Light Special April 30, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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NOLA Slate’s blog is back after a long hiatus. Read her chilling story of her adventure in the downtown ER in New Orleans one night not so long ago.

Same As It Ever Was April 22, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Same as it ever was…

h/t to dsb of bark, bugs, leaves and lizards.

We Remember You January 12, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Debrisville, Helen Hill, je me souviens, New Orleans, Rebirth, Recovery, Remember.
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As I check my blog statistics (visitors, links in, search terms, that sort of thing) late last night, I started to notice people who had come here searching for individuals by name and finding them in the list below.

I don’t want to invade what was almost certainly a private moment of grief by listing them, but I want to say to everyone who came here searching for one of the murder victims in New Orleans, (even if they have come and gone and will never stop by again), or to anyone else who comes here because you found your loved one in the list below: we remember, we remember them all.

Last year, 4,000 Orleanians marched. This year around 40 people stopped by City Hall to hear the speakers–Nakita Shavers, sister of slain drummer and music educator Dinerral Shaves; the brother of slain filmmaker Helen Hill; Ken Foster and Baty Ladis–founders of Silence is Violence.

No, we were not 4,000 yesterday; only 40. But we are tired. All of those terrible but apt marketing slogans, the things we don’t say ourselves–Big Easy, The City That Care Forget–may have once been apt but no longer apply to life here in Debrisville. By the time I’m done arguing with my wife over the latest Sewage & Water Board bill and hauling my children all over town because there are no school buses for the charter schools or waiting for the plumber to come unclog our pipes again because god-only-know-what has backwashed up out of our monstrous sewers, there’s simply few hours left in the day and little energy. Maitri is right: we are all tired.

Forty people standing at City Hall is not enough, but it is a start. Decades ago in my own radical youth I was talking to a Trotskyist about the candidates the Socialist Workers’ Party had run for city office. They had managed several hundred votes and were excited. If I had 400 dedicated comrades, he told me (and he actually used that term), we could begin the revolution tomorrow. Yeah, good luck with that. Still, there was a kernel of truth in what he said. What I learned yesterday on the steps of city hall was there: there is a core of people committed to making this city better, safer.

Those people have not forgotten. Organizer Ken Foster summed it up well: He didn’t know Shavers or Hill personally, he told us. “To survive as a community, we can’t wait until things become personal to us,” the T-P quoted him, and he is right. There is a nucleus of people who care, but if we’re going to make the revolution we need not those 40 or my old comrade’s 400. We need the 4,000 committed and ready, we need 40,000 who will watch the streets and not be afraid to testify, we need 400,000 to stand up and say: enough.

We are not there yet, but the lesson of yesterday’s recital of the names listed below and press conference is this: we have not forgotten. We remember. The Times-Picayune is wrong: this is not just about the high profile cases. We have not surrendered. It may not be enough, not yet, but it is a beginning.

Je me souviens. We remember.

P.S. Hat tip to the bloggers who also came to City Hall and those who also wrote about this on the anniversay: Bart of B.Rox who was a friend of Helen Hill’s, Leigh of Liprap’s Lament, Karen of Northwest Carrollton and Squandered Heritage. Bart and Karen are two warriors in the last battle of New Orleans. Also Maitri and Peter and Ashley and Morwen of Gentilly for remembering. Can’t everybody get off work for stuff like this. I should also mention Brian Denzer, another selfless spear carrier in this campaign, for his work on so many fronts including the New Orleans Citizen’s Crime Watch map site.

Silence is Violence Remembers January 11, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Crime, Debrisville, je me souviens, New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK.
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Update: Not a day passes that this page isn’t visited by someone searching for the name of a person on the list below. As I suggested here in a more recent post, if you knew one of these people I encourage you to take a minute and leave a memorial comment. Be a part of the dialogue of remembrance.

Silence is Violence will mark the one-year anniversary of the New Orleans March on Crime with a press conference at noon today, Jan. 11 2008, on the steps of City Hall, and an evening concert at the Howlin’ Wolf.

Blogger md filter (formerly da po boy), who tracks issues around crime, lists those who died in needlessly in violence in 2007. The list is below.

Remember. Silence is Violence.

Corey Hayes
Cedric Johnson
Hilary Campbell Jr.
Randall Thomas
Kevin Williams
Helen Hill
Jealina Brown
Steve Blair
Jeffery Santos
Chivas Doyle
Christopher Ruth
Tyrone Andrew Johnson
Ronald Holmes
James McGittigan Jr.
Roy Warner Jr.
Eldon Gaddis
David Crater
Daniel Allen
Chrishondolaye Lamothe
Tamara Gabriel
Robert Dawson
Michael Dunbar
Damon Brooks
Ivan Brooks
Alden Wright
Harrison Miller
Roy Grant
David Cagnalatti
Lionel Ware III
Aaron Allen
Josh Rodrigue
Herbert Preston
Byron Love
Ronnie Keelen
Mitchell Pierce
Kevin Pham
Kevana Price
Warren Thompson
Glynn Francois Jr.
Sean Robinson
Larry Ramee III
Warren Simpson
Antoine Williams
Terry Despenza
Eldridge Ellis
Travis Johnson
Phillip R. Boykins
Charley Zeno
Carl Anthony McLendon
Terry Brock
Cleveland Daniels
Alexander Williams
Terry Hall
Dominic Bell
Gregory Singleton
Damont Jenkins
Troy Thomas
Artherine Williams
Keith Moore
Nicholas Smith
Eligio Bismark Espinoza
Daniel L. Prieto
Curtis Helms Jr.
Troy Dent
Curtis Brenson
Michael Combs
Jay Landers
Mark Oneal
Corey Coleman
Emanuel Gardner
Edward Charles Balser
Arthur Dowell
Montrell Faulkin
Anthony Placide
Ernest Williams
Harry Heinzt Jr.
Robert Billiot
Willie Simmons
Tammie Johnson
Larry Hawkins
Terrell Ceazer
George Hammond
Persale R. Green
Joseph Magee
Albert Phillips
Samuel Gonzales
Darryl Williams
Robin Malta
Jason Wynne
Jerrell Jackson
Christopher Roberts
Samuel Williams Jr.
Jeremy Tillman
Jennifer Williams
Gary Walls
Arthur Jackson IV
Henry Newman
Johnny Martin III
Travan Coates
Jeffery Tate
Jerome Banks
Eric Fobbs
Keith Page
Adrian Davis
Paul Burks
Leon Williams Jr.
Dallas Jerome
James Johnson
Anthony White
Dellshea LeBlanc
John W. Barrow III
Kevin Underwood
Pablo Mejia Jr.
unidentified man
Thomas Jackson
unidentified man
Demond Phillips
Michael Phillips
Luong Nguyen
Anjelique Vu
Terry Johnson
Chauncy Smith
Cornelius Curry
Nia Robertson
Kadeem Wise
Percy Read
Freddie Davis II
Edwin Stuart
Corwin Shaffer
Julio Benitez-Cruz
Wilford Holmes
Perry L. Oliver
Donald Gullage
Kong Kham Vongvilay
Wisan Inthamat
Boon Roopmoh
Louis Heim
Brandon Snowton
Carnell Wallis
Thomas Dominick
Larry Gooden
Gerald Howard
Larry Butler Jr.
Phillip A. Carmouche Jr.
unidentified man
Aaron Harvey
Mario Anthony Green
Jason Snyder
Perry Watts
Lionel J. Hills
Warren Martin
Dwayne Landry
Don Smith
Demetrius Gooden
Townsend Bennett
unidentified man
Thelonius Dukes
Gregory Hayes
Charles Miller
Eddie Bernard
unidentified man
Carmen Leona Reese
Cedrick Brooks
Waldon Howard
unidentified man
Antwon McGee
Jason Anderson
Archie Solet
Shana Thomas
Brian Lee
David Bryan Alford Jr.
Brett Jason Jacobs
Howard Pickens
Darryl Daggons
Matthew Qualls
Aubrey Powell
John Batiste
Toran Landry
Anthony Walker
Lester Denis
Cardero Davis
Javier Sanchez
Julian Mathins
Theodore J. Leach
Daniel Baham
Jubbar Scott
Tyrone Lanaux Jr.
Andre Toussaint
Eddie Spiller
Carlos Miller
Sheldon Dean
Rigoberto Dominguez
Angela Thomas Bryant
Brandon Brown
Jermaine Turner
Alejandro Pecina Ruiz
George Hankton III
Aaron Williams
Frank Whittington
unidentified person
Jesse Jones
Chanell Sanchell
James Jones
Wendell Millro
Elizabeth Chapman
Clayton Johnson Jr.