Filed Under:  Local, OpEd

One cheeky Mitch

4th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis
The Louisiana Weekly Editor

So let me get this straight: After several years of community meetings designed to document NOPD misconduct, several years of investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and more than a year of negotiations and debate about the proposed NOPD consent decree and efforts on the part of the Landrieu Administration to prevent the inclusion of a civilian oversight panel in the decree, the mayor has decided that the NOPD consent decree is “not necessary.”

You have got to be kidding me.

Mind you, this is also after decades of murder, terrorism, robberies, corruption and unconstitutional policing by New Orleans’ finest, including the murders of Kim Groves, Ronald Madison, James Brissette, Henry Glover, Raymond Robair, Adolph Grimes III, Steven Hawkins, Justin Sipp, Wendell Allen and all the other men, women and children gunned down by the NOPD, tangible evidence of continuing racial profiling in the Mid-City Retail District and French Quarter and the recent attack on two Black teenagers in the French Quarter.

This is the mayor of White Chocolate City who has publicly described his Black critics as dysfunctional and called the cops involved in the shooting of Earl Sipp and the killing of Justin Sipp “heroes.” It is also the mayor who felt he has the authority and power to lecture every resident of the City of New Orleans on how to behave when guests visited the city for the Super Bowl earlier this year and thinks he can stem the tide of Black-on-Black violence by simply keeping a list of the names of Black murder victims in big binders and reading the names publicly whenever Black professionals and civil rights groups visit the city, finding money to put up “NOLA for Life” billboards while ignoring the concerns and perspectives of Black families and community leaders. Mitch, please.

No one else’s thoughts or opinions matter when it comes to reforming the NOPD, protecting residents from violence or making the city a safer place to live. It’s his show and he’s running it like Mighty Mouse on steroids. It looks like when the mayor said all those pretty words on the day he was inaugurated about One Voice, One City and One Vision, he was talking about his own. Amazingly, he doesn’t think anyone sees that.

The mayor has waved his magic wand and made all the corruption, unconstitutional policing and the gun-toting bad asses in the NOPD disappear.

One has to wonder if this is how the mayor really feels about the NOPD consent decree or if this is an order he has received from those wealthy families that have been running the city since it was founded almost 300 years ago. Either way, the mayor’s remarks about the consent decree are blatantly disrespectful to all of the people in New Orleans whose loved ones were murdered by NOPD officers and all of those residents who dutifully pay taxes and obey the rules but have never enjoyed equal protection under the law.

The mayor’s remarks about the consent decree bring to mind Mississippi in the 1960s when white supremacists in that state were livid about the federal government involving itself in Mississippi business. Many elected officials in Mississippi actually blamed the social and political upheaval that took place in that state on “outside agitators” and communists who they said were making trouble for “decent white people.”

I don’t think this mayor gets how tired people of this city are of him. Even those who detested the mayor’s predecessor and once believed that anyone would be better than what we had after the Great Flood of 2005 are now questioning the wisdom of making such a declaration.

Cab drivers are tired of the mayor and the way he has undermined their ability to earn a decent living.

Minority contractors who continue to be locked out of opportunities to do business with the City of New Orleans are not happy with the mayor.

Civil-service workers who are being undermined by their boss at City Hall while watching him give his inner circle six-figure salaries are certainly tired of the mayor.

NORD referees who the city takes its time to pay are fed up with the mayor.

Residents who pay exorbitant property taxes but see no improvement in the infrastructure, no reduction in neighborhood blight or adequate police protection are sick and tired of this mayor and his shenanigans.

Civil rights groups and leaders who the mayor excluded from taking part in annual events commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and Juneteenth have certainly had their fill.

Elderly residents on fixed incomes who have been forced to pay more in Sewerage & Water Board bills and will likely be similarly fleeced by Entergy are sick of him.

Mothers whose sons have been racially profiled by the NOPD have had enough of this mayor.

Members of the Wisner family are tired of the mayor overstepping and trying to dictate how the family’s philanthropic organization spends its funds are not pleased with hizzoner.

Hell, even leaders of the local police union and fraternal lodge are tired of the mayor and all the games he is playing, particularly after a cop was gunned down in the Ninth Ward in late February.

In case you haven’t noticed, the mayor has had three years to speed up the recovery of eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward but very little has changed. Much of those areas still look like overgrown jungles or barren wastelands riddled with hundreds of blighted homes and potholes. Street signs are still missing, businesses are boarded up, sidewalks are still busted up, leaning, abandoned buildings are just begging to be torn down and the grass on some of the neutral grounds looks like something straight out of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Not even the mayor’s half-dozen or so well-paid deputy mayors have been able to speed up post-Katrina recovery in majority-Black areas of the city.

Never mind any of that, the mayor tells the mainstream press. The Super Bowl is coming to town and it’s Carnival time. And when it’s Carnival time, everybody forgets about crime, right?

Tell that to 17-year-old Sidney Newman and 18-year-old Ferdinand Hunt, the two Black teenagers attacked by nine state troopers and an NOPD officer in the French Quarter on Feb. 12. Ask them and their families what they think about the new and improved NOPD, the kinder, gentler force that doesn’t need a federal consent decree to reform or behave itself. Ask yourself what might have happened to those two young men and their futures if one of them didn’t have a mother who is a member of the NOPD and interrupted the unwarranted attack on them.

Tell that to the families of Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen and all of the Black men, women and children who continue to be targeted for racial profiling, police brutality, harassment and general disrespect by the men and women in blue.

Make no mistake about it, this is a mayor who is enthralled with the sound of his own voice and never learned to share with others. He has gone so far as to actually write scripts for members of various boards to follow while pretending to be holding open and fair public meetings. No one else’s opinion, concerns or perspective matters. It’s just that cut and dry.

Judging from all the cavalier wobbling he did on Fat Tuesday, he probably thinks he’s a shoo-in for re-relection. Let them eat king cake, right? But all the dinero in the world won’t ensure this mayor’s re-election as long as his list of critics who are registered to vote in Orleans Parish continues to grow.

The question New Orleans residents must ask themselves between now and the next mayoral election is whether they want to spend another four years being pushed around by a pint-sized, second-lining dictator who refuses to protect residents from unconstitutional policing and a host of other ills. Do you really want to spend the next four years watching your hard-earned tax dollars being spent to compensate firms and contractors from surrounding parishes while minority contractors in New Orleans are routinely ignored and locked out of the bidding process? Do you want to see the CBD continue its transformation into a “Sun City” while eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward continue to struggle to survive? Do you want to see the mayor refuse to share decision-making power with the people of New Orleans and continue to get away with taxation without representation?

So many questions, so little time to waste in finding a replacement mayor who understands what it means to be a public servant and respects and acknowledges the will of the people to govern themselves.

This article originally published in the March 4, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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