Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Power to the people

10th June 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

We are barely into the unofficial start of summer and we are already dealing with child abductions in Jefferson Parish in broad daylight, a named storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico with another disturbance we’re watching over the Atlantic Ocean, and a federal judge who apparently has very little respect for Black and brown people but has the power to determine the course of their lives. Next month will make a year since the U.S. Department of Justice and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed the NOPD consent decree but we are still waiting and watching as the mayor continues to try to find a way to back out of the NOPD and OPP consent decrees and continues to seek delays in the selection of a federal NOPD consent decree monitor. The mayor says the NOPD consent decree has been tainted by former federal prosecutor Sal Perricone of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that the city can’t afford to pay for these decrees and that the NOPD no longer needs a consent decree because it is reforming itself — Mitch please!!!

Robberies don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, burglaries and home invasions are imminent possibilities and the City of New Orleans and the NOPD apparently have no idea how to make the city a safer place to live. Instead of adding jobs, City Hall is taking jobs away from civil-service workers and only adding to the number of unemployed and underemployed individuals while admonishing residents to say no to drugs, gangs and violence. Perhaps instead of finding things to simply say no to, we should start saying yes to intellectual stimulation, African-centered solutions to the many problems plaguing communities of color and political activism.

Let’s also continue to ask questions and demand answers from those we elect to lead and SERVE us. To set it off, I wrote down a few questions. Here we go.

• Is anyone really surprised by U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones’ comments about Blacks and Latinos being “predisposed to crime” and “prone to commit acts of violence,” and is it any surprise that a three-judge panel that included Judge Jones recently granted the Landrieu administration’s request for a temporary stay of the NOPD consent decree?

• With federal judges spewing racial hatred, district attorneys and prosecutors framing innocent people like Shareef Cousin, Curtis Kyles, John Thompson and possibly Travis Burke, and U.S. attorneys being nominated and confirmed based on political connections, what realistic chance do Black people and the poor have of securing justice and equal protection under the law?

• While it was nice for a certain congressman to speak about questionable comments from a federal appeals court judge, why hasn’t that same congressman come down to the Federal Courthouse or the Mercedes Benz Superdome to weigh in on the NOPD and OPP consent decrees or the Landrieu administration’s efforts to do away with both?

• Why have so many Black elected officials, including those who were apparently appalled by the words of U.S. 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones, not said a single word about the NOPD consent decree and why it is needed in New Orleans after decades of police brutality, excessive force, racial profiling and other forms of unconstitutional policing?

• Why do Black voters in New Orleans continue to tolerate disrespect and neglect from Black elected officials who are unimaginative, self-absorbed, unprincipled, intellectually myopic and sorely lacking in courage, conviction and character?

• Why doesn’t the New Orleans Police Department want NOPD Det, Dan Plustache to take a lead role in the search for missing second-grade teacher Terilynn Monette when he is clearly the most qualified person for that task?

• If the mayor doesn’t think the City of New Orleans should have to pay for NOPD and OPP consent decrees after decades of domestic terrorism, barbarity, corruption, ineptitude and neglect that have poisoned the lives of many of the city’s poor and Black residents, who does he think should foot the bill for these desperately needed reforms?

• What makes the mayor of New Orleans think he knows more about justice than the U.S. Department of Justice and the nation’s federal judges?

• What does it say about the mayor that he gets bright-eyed and giddy about Superdome and airport renovations, sprucing up the streets and sidewalks of the CBD and tearing down the Claiborne Overpass now that gentrification has taken root in Faubourg Tremé, but can’t summon the will and the character to expand economic opportunities for people of color, improve city services or bring constitutional policing to New Orleans?

• What makes the mayor think that it is not his sworn duty as an elected official in the United States to uphold the United States Constitution and protect the constitutional rights of New Orleanians, whether they contributed to his campaign or not?

• After several delays and a whole lot of stalling, who actually thinks that the 10-member panel charged with the task is going to actually select a federal NOPD consent-decree monitor this week?

• What does Louisiana Gov. Piyush Jindal, who clearly is no longer a GOP?presidential frontrunner, think he is accomplishing by continuing to take public-school funds and give them to educational pirates and by denying people who have paid taxes all of their lives the benefit of increased Medicaid benefits?

• How proud are you of First Lady Michelle Obama for the way she handled the female heckler last week who said she was “taken aback” by the first lady’s response to her repeated outbursts?

• How different would things be in America right now if President Barack Obama took the same approach in dealing with his political adversaries that First Lady Michelle Obama did last week?

• Why are mainstream media outlets making excuses for the “gentleman” from Jefferson Parish who confessed to abducting and sexually assaulting a seven-year-old Black girl last week?

• Since the NOPD failed for months to even question the gas station owner whose business sits next to the apartments where Terrilynn Monette lives and refused to take any steps to remove nearly two dozen cars from Bayou St. John, is anyone really all that surprised by the department’s refusal to let NOPD Det. Dan Plustache do what he is apparently uniquely qualified to do in probing her computer for answers?

• How do you plan to keep your children and grandchildren engaged in meaningful activities this summer that promote the growth and development of their minds as well as their physical well-being?

• How much longer are the 7,000 teachers, administrators, staff members and other employees from the New Orleans Public Schools illegally fired after Hurricane Katrina going to have to wait for justice and equitable treatment from the justice system?

• What are your plans for Juneteenth?

This article originally published in the June 10, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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