What has been more on my mind has been the unbelievable uptick in violence since the beginning of 2012. A little background- when Ronald Serpas became Chief of the NOPD, he promised a 5% reduction in the murder rate in 2011. Although originally ridiculed as a not very aggressive or high reaching goal, it turns out that the murder rate in 2011 surpassed 2010's. BY FOURTEEN FRICKIN' PERCENT.
And 2012 is tracking to be even worse. Just in the sphere of my own world and vision, over the last couple of days:
- A double shooting yesterday afternoon with one fatality at Tchoupitoulas and Jackson. This is about 5 blocks from our house.
- A rapist who attacked 2 women uptown in the University area. At least they survived, I guess?
- A local elementary school (where we held several of our Capacity College classes last spring) was evacuated after a man ran in there with a gun after shooting at a police officer. Everyone was OK though.
- Just before I left work to go home, news of a shooting at the very busy intersection of South Claiborne and South Carrollton hit the wire.
- When I got home I heard about a shooting in the Seventh Ward (where we are holding our Trumpet Release Party next week) and a GODDAMN QUADRUPLE shooting on Elysian Fields Ave., including a 12 year old girl. The girl was just sitting on her damn porch with 2 of the other victims.
- While I was writing this blog post, two people got shot in New Orleans East.
I mean, seriously. W. T. F. This is just insanity. This problem is so huge, I don't think anyone has any clue how to solve it. Not the NOPD- people are still terrified of them, and for good reason. I'm sure if the Mayor could will a solution into existence he would - he started up the Saving Our Sons initiative, which hasn't shown any progress yet. Even identifying the underlying systemic reasons for this orgy of violence seems to be beyond hope. We obsess on the criminal backgrounds of the victims, even when the victims have no criminal backgrounds, it's assumed they were up to something illegal if it brought that kind of violence upon themselves. Especially if the victim have black or brown skin. I understand the basically racist need to think that all these victims brought it on themselves. After all, if we lead good and legal lives and make our good choices that white skin and a bit of money or political connection help exponentially with, then we won't be targets. It's just something these criminals are doing to each other.
I'm sorry. That's not true. Bad things happen to innocent people Hell, I helped organize fundraisers for two of them last year! And you know what? Even if the victims of these crimes may have found themselves in these grim situations because of choices they made for whatever reason, they are still victims of violent crime and deserve our compassion.
But I think that granting compassion is something that these God-fearing, morally righteous citizens reject because it involves treating these people like human beings, and not criminals or problems or subhuman scum. And that's all part of the cycle of violence.
New Orleans, I love you so much, but you break my heart. And I know I'm not alone in that. Not by a long shot.