Sunday, May 3, 2009

When crime hits too close to home . . . again

I have so many things that I want to blog about. I want to blog about my trip into the Barataria to go canoeing with the alligators. I want to blog about my family’s first visit to New Orleans and our trip to Honey Island Swamp and to great places like the WWII Museum. I want to blog about the awesome CD release party of Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs.

But once again I find myself caught up in the never-ending cycle of news stories centered around violent crimes. This time the crime was one that my friends were witness to. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, some psycho opened fire on his estranged wife and her friend in the middle of a crowded bar, my FAVORITE bar, the bar in which I feel most safe and most welcome. The woman died, and the friend was severely injured.

According to the news story on, the victims had just gotten off work at a local hotel and were relaxing with a cocktail when the husband, who had been arrested there earlier in the week, stepped through the door and opened fire.

It breaks my heart to realize not only that crime CAN and DOES happen everywhere, but also that my friends were there and could easily have been injured.

I realize that this crime was the product of a domestic dispute and that little could have been done to prevent it. (The husband was arrested earlier this week and a restraining order was filed against him.) But it comes on the heels of so many other violent crimes throughout the city:

On Friday night a 24-year-old man was shot in the face and hip just blocks away from the site where a 35-year-old woman was killed when someone opened fire. On Saturday a bullet-riddled body was found on Airline Highway. (Yes, I know that’s Jefferson Parish, but it’s still close enough to be frightening.) Just the other day, in Marrero, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the head with an assault rifle. A seven-year-old boy was shot when his father stopped to buy drugs with his two kids in the car.

The most telling part of incidents was one line in the initial story posted on concerning the death of the 35-year-old woman. According to the story, a fight began in the parking lot of a gas station, one opponent wielding a baseball mat, the other a machete. The line to which I’m referring: “He said he called police but they did not come.” After the men left, one returned with a gun, firing into a crowd and killing the woman, an innocent bystander.

What’s wrong with this picture? This is not an isolated incident either. In 2007 posted an article concerning an attempted rape on Royal Street. The police were called but never arrived.

On May 1, reported that the NOPD admitted that it had “misreported” recent rape statistics. This on the heels of a story of a young woman who was kidnapped in the Quarter, raped, and dropped off in Gretna. The NOPD is investigating the kidnapping, but neither Orleans Parish nor Jefferson Parish wants to investigate the rape charge. The two parishes are fighting like my brother and I used to over who had to wash the dishes. “I don’t want to! I did it yesterday! It’s his turn!”

“It’s not my job! It’s yours!”

Who’s job is it? Who is to be held accountable? While our illustrious (insert sarcasm here) Mayor Nagin is defending his every suspicious move by claiming that those who would like some accountability are simply politically motivated and are hurting the recovery of New Orleans, the beat goes on.

Where are the crime cameras? Why do the traffic cams work so well as catching speeders and red-light runners, generating income for the city, but none of those crime cameras work?

While Nagin is busy giving non-answers and Police Superintendent Riley is busy cooking the books on crime stats, the city that I love is flailing. Who is going to help?

Yesterday’s sign of the times came in a phone call to my mother, who is very much in love with New Orleans, though she does not live here. I realized how bad things have gotten here and how bad the news looks to others when she said to me: “I think it’s time you moved home.”

The problem is, I already am home.


Anonymous said...

Beautiffuly said. What a shame we can't even go into a bar to relax anymore without thinking something like this may now happen. WE NEED TO TAKE OUR CITY BACK!!!

Matthew Sheahan said...

Police in many cities are cooking the books in regards to crime statistics. New Orleans is particularly egregious. Remember, Nagin is the mayor who had the police confiscate legally owned guns while rioters were still running wild. He should have been prosecuted for his crimes and voted out by the people of New Orleans. Instead he race-baited his way back into office. Get yourself to the shooting range ASAP.

Anonymous said...

That sucks! I don't think I've heard about that incident on the news but then again with the onslaught of violent crimes it probably blended in. It doesn't surprise me at all. Good thing your friends were ok. Definitely be careful while your out and about.