A GODDAMNED DIRTY SHAME
Typically, I try to shy away from too much social and city commentary. I feel like I best serve the world by being positive and trying to do good things in the way of art, but today does not get to be such a day.
You see, my brothers and sisters for a better tomorrow in New Orleans, someone has spoiled by congenial mood and my moderate vocalizing. Thus, you get ReX, fully pissed off and ready to say it.
I received a rather bad spot of news today and when I say bad, I mean horrible. Horrid, loathsome, vial, disgusting and on and on.
In New Orleans, we have grown immune to the flashing blue lights of the NOPD at yet another crime scene. We drive by, process a crying woman, and chalk it up to the drug wars between the neighborhood groups. We don’t look back and assume it’s someone else’s problem to have to deal with.
Each and everyone has our Katrina story…and it’s one that is often times more painful to remember and recount than we still care to deal with. We shared them with our friends, neighbors, relatives and even news camera. We poured our hearts out to the world because we needed to get it off our chest and it was good therapy. Still, we are not a “fixed” people.
And yet, how many of our friends and neighbors have a crime story? How many times have you shared a story at the water cooler, over a drink, at the park about the crime in your neighborhood? Your own personal story about the AK-47 fire on St. Roch where more than a single shot was fired…your drop and roll on the floor story…your run to the back of the house story?
Back on the nineties, my brother was footsteps away from the young man shot outside of Port of Call on Esplanade. My brother held the door open for him and his girlfriend and while they turned one way down the street, my brother turned the other. Only by chance was that not my brother’s night to die. Bang Bang…it could have been his unlucky night.
They caught the two “kids” who killed the young man, but that doesn’t erase the horror of the girlfriend, nor of the sight of the blood spilling from a man’s head.
And so here we are, flash forward to 2008. We’re almost three years after Katrina where we had our collective “what the F#*!” that was shortly followed by our collective sigh. If anything, we should be a city that knows about unity. If anything, we should be a people that understands what our city means to us. If anything, we should be a group of individuals who comprehend the importance of our people as a whole.
Flash forward to August, 2008, where over another humid and hot weekend, a girl is stabbed and beaten to death in her apartment on Chartres Street. I’d met her some time ago at a friend’s Christmas party where we all had the wonderful time of wearing fake mustaches, eating too much food and drinking too much liquor. She was friendly, lovely and fun, even if quiet at times. I’ll miss not getting to see her again, and I’m sure her friends will miss all of the wonderful times they got to share with her.
I won’t say it very often, and it’s a form of candor and a side to ReX you don’t ever get to see publicly, but here’s my special wording to the individual (s) responsible for this: “FUCK YOU!”
The most important thing to remember in all of this is that we have lost one of our sisters in the building of a better city. Every time one of our citizens are murdered, a piece of our city is murdered. You are not just killing an individual, but also the spirit and the vitality of our community. Everything that New Orleans embodies dies with each and every crime like this.
We have been a broken city for far too long. We have been a hurt city for far too long. But these two things don’t excuse the tolerance of crime. Nothing excuses the flagrant disregard that criminals have in this town. Yet, what do we do? Offer me solutions you say. I wish I had some concrete plan that would pull us out of the funk.
In the interim of having a decent criminal justice system...one that isn’t focused on luring homeless people with food or putting victimless offenders of marijuana crimes in jail…it will have to be up to us on the streets. It will have to be up to the individual to police his or her own neighborhood and be active. Sadly, we live in a city where being active in the security of your neighborhood may cost you. And we proceed into a Catch 22 that is lethal.
But do we leave ourselves no option but to run into our houses as quickly as we can and bolt the doors behind us? I don’t want to live like that…do you? So stand up and be heard. Monitor your neighborhood, keep an eye out for suspicious activity and report it. According to a NOPD friend of mine, 9-1-1 is as useful as nipples on a hotdog, so call the district station directly and report suspicious activity. Get involved, be alert, be vigilant and let’s take control of our city again. The life you save may be yours…
Sure, I’m living in a utopian dreamland where one person can make a difference. But I believe that one person can make a difference and there is no other way for us to proceed from here because our system has failed us. Nearly everything “official” in this city seems corrupt, inept, or uncaring, but that’s no excuse for the citizenry to take this as status quo and live the same way.
If it is to be, it is up to me. Now say that to yourself over and over again until you realize that the potential to change this city begins and ends with you. The revolution for a better tomorrow is in you…now do something about it before you end up burying another person you know and love. Or, do you want your crime story to be as tragic as your Katrina story?
So, this is for our friend, neighbor and sister Jessica...
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