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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.

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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.

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Soldier Boys June 22, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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3 comments

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

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.

Remember Chanel, Remember Them All February 29, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Dancing Bear, je me souviens, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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11 comments

Ever since I posted a list of all of the New Orleans dead of 2007, not a day goes by that this site is not visited by people searching for their loved ones on the internet. Yesterday, someone searched the internet for “chanell sanchell new orleans”.

Today, we’re going to remember Chanel. I didn’t know this person. That doesn’t matter. If we only choose to remember the people we knew, or the people like us, then remembrance is an act of selfishness. If we only worry about people who look like us or move in our circles and places, then it will never end.

It doesn’t matter that I did not know her or her family. It only matters that she has joined The Ghosts. To be among the ghosts is not to be denied the heaven of one’s dreams. It is to be in an honored host, as honored as those who stand at the foot of the throne if you tend to that version. It is to be remembered, to be a part of the city forever.

Here is Chanel’s story from Nola.com. From the news reports, she sounds like a good kid who ran with the wrong crowd. Perhaps it was the only crowd she knew, was full of the faces she knew from the time she first toddled down the steps of a building in St. Bernard on her own two feet, a crowd that perhaps included her first best girlfriend, the first boy she kissed. How easy it would be for someone like Chanel to fall in with that crowd, the people she grew up with good and bad, and to suddenly find herself on the wrong side of an argument with one of the bad in that crowd, one of the worst; an argument that ended with a gun shot through the heart.

Here is a blog post from a cousin. I think The Book and the comments on his blog say more than I can. Or read the comments on this post from last October at m.d. filter.

Many of those on the lists I and m.d. filter have published are otherwise invisible on the internet. There is only the list, perhaps a mention on this blog or m.d. filter. For most, there is a brief paragraph in the Times-Picayune. “The coroner has identified… Detective so-and-so is investigating. Call Crimestoppers…”. That is all; nothing more.

If you are one of those who stumbles onto this blog looking for someone you knew, please take a moment to leave some memorial in the comments. I know you are out there, looking for something about this person. You can leave your messages anonymously. Or you can email me and I will post it as a comment. Everyone person on that list, even if they had gone down that dark path and died with a handgun in their waste band and an empty look in their eyes, all of them were once as Chanel once was, as my own children once were: as innocent as a lamb in the lap of Jesus. Someone, somewhere who uses the internet remembers them not as a name on a list but as a person. (I know because you come looking for them.) Tell us something about that person. Tell us what you perhaps said or wish you had said when the minister at the funeral asked if anyone wanted to speak.

Some of us chose to remember, like the bone men. I want the dead and the living to know that we remember, that in this city there are many who remember. We will never forget one of you.

Update: I also just found this blog, which mostly captures police reports about violent crime in NOLA.

Update 5-16-08: Corrected spelling of Chanel’s name (except in the Google reference, because that’s how they find this page), per her cousin who published The Book blog.