Filed Under:  Local, OpEd, Opinion

Marching into madness

11th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis
The Louisiana Weekly Editor

What in the world is going on in New Orleans? Ex-cops suing people they killed and/or shot for pain and suffering and loss of income. Cops who don’t live in New Orleans trying to dictate Orleans Parish rules and ordinances by demanding to be exempt from reinstated city residency rules. Plainclothes state troopers and cops beating up on Black teenagers for having the audacity to think they could enjoy a Mardi Gras parade and hang out in the French Quarter. Cops, elected officials and “community leaders” marching in a show of support for a cop shot in a store robbery but doing and saying absolutely nothing about the many Black men, women and children murdered, shot, violated and racially profiled by members of the NOPD. Conta­minated water and citywide random acts of nonsense. These are some strange times, my cousins. Is it March madness or just more of the kind of myopic and miasmic leadership that has made New Orleans one of the most oppressive and backwards cities on the planet? You tell me.

Even the mayor has gotten into the act by threatening to cut city services like fire safety and police protection if he can’t find a way to get out of paying for the federally mandated NOPD consent decree. As if that’s going to scare many of the city’s residents who pay much more than they used to in property taxes, S&WB rates and Entergy bills but get very little in the way of city services. Nice try, Mitch.

Let’s keep asking questions and try to get to the heart of what’s really going on so that we can find long-term solutions to the madness that has this city and its people on a downward spiral toward even more hellish, unconstitutional conditions

Here we go:
• Why should the citizens of New Orleans continue to suffer at the hands of the police because the mayor and City Council elected to lead the city and manage the city’s tax dollars can’t summon the will to find the money to pay for NOPD reforms?
• How long will it be before the recent Sewerage & Water Board rate hikes begin to positively impact the quality of services the agency provides to the city and residents begin to feel like they’re getting something for their money?
• If Wendell Allen and Justin Sipp can be killed by police after several high-profile NOPD murder cases and Ferdinand Hunt and Sidney Newman can have their constitutional rights violated by plainclothes state police and a plainclothes NOPD officer after a federal judge signs a NOPD consent decree, what is it going to be like for young Black men — indeed all Black people — in New Orleans should the federal court grant the mayor his wish to vacate the consent decree?
• Do you suppose the mayor has gotten around to apologizing to the families of Sidney Newman and Ferdinand Hunt yet and explaining to them why the city decided to shift gears and renege on its commitment to support the NOPD consent decree?
• Why do you suppose it’s okay for the criminal justice system to get away with publicizing the names of civilians accused of committing crimes before they are tried by a jury of their peers but inappropriate for law enforcement agencies to release the names of officers accused of violating the constitutional rights of civilians, even when those officers are caught on tape doing their misdeeds?
• What do you suppose U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder thinks about Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s decision to back out of the NOPD consent decree and what do you think the AG will do next to let the mayor know that the federal government has no intention of playing around with the constitutional rights of New Orleans residents?
• How has the larger society gotten so good at identifying, cultivating and supporting safe Negroes?
• Who thinks that the Black community does NOT have a right to have a say in the selection of the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana?
• How many of the city’s transplants of all colors believe the popular lies about the city’s poorest residents being poor and marginalized because they are lazy, lack initiative, and are not interested in getting a decent education or improving their lives?
• Isn’t it about time that judges finally wake up to the corner-cutting, political skulduggery of Louisiana Gov. Piyush Jindal?
• Why aren’t/weren’t more people upset about the possible closing of Xavier Prep, the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ efforts to dictate disciplinary policy at St. Augustine High School, Lusher’s takeover of Alcee Fortier High School, plans to rebuild McDonogh #35 High School across the street from a juvenile detention center, the hostile takeover of John McDonogh High School, efforts to merge O. Perry Walker and Edna Karr high schools and the post-Katrina demolition of John F. Kennedy High School?
• Why don’t proud graduates of some of the city’s finest majority-Black high schools fight as hard to preserve, protect and uplift the city’s other schools as they do for their alma maters?
• If we continue to pay sky-high property taxes, why do we need volunteers who come to town for events like the Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, BCS College Football Championship or the NCAA Final Four to rebuild and/or spruce up the city’s schools, playgrounds, community centers and neighborhoods?
• Why do some neighborhoods in New Orleans get more money to maintain the neutral grinds and sidewalks than others?
• How much further along in reforming the NOPD and securing constitutional policing for New Orleans could residents have been if Sen. Mary Landrieu had not recommended to President Barack Obama four years ago that U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, a President George W. Bush appointee who stepped down after an online posting scandal, retain Letten’s services for another four years, and how much will that decision help or hinder the senator in her upcoming bid for reelection?
• Why does the mayor think he has the right and authoritative power to force residents to choose between a NOPD consent decree to make the police force professional and respectful of the constitutional rights of residents and adequate funding for fire and police protection?
• How much sense would it make to have a fire department and police department that are adequately funded when residents continue to have to deal with cops using excessive force, intimidation, racial profiling and unconstitutional policing?
• With all of the budgetary concerns we’ve been hearing about of late, why don’t we ever hear the mayor talking about reducing the number of deputy mayors by 50 percent or reducing the salaries of those who are part of the mayor’s inner circle?
• In hindsight, how much of the money spent over the past two years adding streetcar lines, creating dog parks, biking lanes, renovating the Superdome, making City Park look like Central Park and generally making the CBD sparkle before the recent Super Bowl could/should have been used to pay for sweeping NOPD reforms needed to make the men and women in blue treat residents like human beings with constitutional and human rights?
• Why hasn’t there been anything on the news about an alleged exchange of gunfire at a St. Mary’s Academy fair on March 2 that sent hundreds of teenagers scrambling for cover along Chef Menteur Highway?
• Why are so few men and women of God in New Orleans speaking out about things like police brutality, racial profiling, a statewide voucher program that siphons money from funds earmarked for public schools and the systematic exclusion of people of color in New Orleans from educational and economic opportunities?
• What does Gov. Piyush Jindal’s parish priest think about his refusal to lift a finger to ease the suffering of the state’s ailing senior citizens?

This article originally published in the March 11, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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