Her James

Nearly four years ago, a young boy by the name of Jeremy Galmon was shot and killed after a second line had passed by, a casualty of people using bullets to settle arguments.

The fundraising for Jeremy’s family was held only a few blocks from my home, sponsored by members of the community and by Young Men of Olympia Social & Pleasure Club, who had sponsored the parade on the day that the boy was caught in the crossfire. The city was in an uproar over this latest victim of gun violence here, and the finger-pointing at the parade as a cause of the violence was happening in too much earnest. Casting blame on the second-line was far too easy to do at the time, but the bands were out in force, and people were driving by the Goodwork Network to give funding to the Galmon family and to deliver the message that second-lining was not a cause, but strove to be a solution in a number of ways. It was there that I met Deborah Cotton for the first time, working right alongside the organizers, enjoying the Baby Boyz Brass Band, the Roots of Music in one of its earliest incarnations, and assisting with style and grace.

I knew the name from her book Notes From New Orleans, which was one of the first post-8/29/2005 chronicles I’d read – I feel to this day that it is still unjustly overlooked as a smart, occasionally sassy, and heartfelt window into that time. I then found that she was contributing to Nola.com under the name Big Red Cotton via a blog there entitled Notes On New Orleans (I wonder where that title came from?), where her amazing voice and perspective jumped off the web browser and stood out among all that hot mess. She’d made it a point to immerse herself in the second line culture and invited me out to do so sometime.

I’ll tell everyone a secret: for quite a while, I wanted to write like Deb. Her frankness about how many people were on some sort of antidepressant to deal with the aftermath of the levee breaches helped make me bolder about admitting that I was on them and will most likely be on them for the rest of my life. There’s one post of mine that’s directly inspired by her examples: a multimedia account of a visit to another fundraiser, the Dinerral Shavers Educational Fund, filled with brass bands, love, laughter, and even some “Halftime,” anticipating the Saints’ Super Bowl win later that same month. I was happy to see her posting at the Gambit’s Blog of New Orleans, and touted her extensive online archive of second line YouTubes when I could.

Life gets crazy, and 2010 flew by, then 2011, 2012. I saw Deb again at a Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities program, then at Rising Tide 6, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of that opportunity to dance with her as she took in another of the second lines she so loved. Once I heard she was among the 19 shot by someone lying in wait for the procession to come by this past Sunday, my heart was in my throat. She’d worked so hard for so many years to show that this was a welcoming part of New Orleans culture, and one kid with a gun had struck that down, taking her with it…

She and a few others are still recovering from their injuries. The suspect(s) in the shooting is(are) still at large. And, for whatever reason, I find myself thinking about James.

James is no one specific. In Notes From New Orleans, Deb wrote about wanting a James to come along, and referred to him in one of her most recent tweets. James isn’t someone who can come and take her away from it all completely, but he can certainly make it all bearable for quite a while. James will know just what makes Deb tick, and will respond to her in all the right ways when she’s low, bringing her out of whatever doldrums she’s in. James is a supportive, seductive dream of a black man who hasn’t arrived in her life…but I wonder…

New Orleans may not have been perfect, and it may have lashed out at her, but it has sustained her all these years. She’s believed in it for so long, worked so hard for it, that I couldn’t help but think that one of the greatest tributes to her toils was Ronal Serpas making the point that the second line was not to blame for the shootings – and most everyone agreeing with that assessment. Jeffrey the yaller blogger is correct in saying “no one has done more to cover and celebrate this generation of NOLA street culture.” Deb treated it so well that if it were a person, I’m sure it would be a James.

It’s now time for us all to do what a James would do – support Deb and those others hurt in the shootings.

The Gambit is working with the Tipitina’s Foundation on a fundraiser for them all. Go here and stay alert for further details.

Deb kick-started New Orleans Good Good shortly before Sunday’s parade. Sign up for updates on her condition and details on fundraising. It would also be great, if you are in a position to do so, to sponsor some advertising on the site and keep her work going.

A blood drive effort for shooting victims is being scheduled for May 22, from 2-7 PM. At least 25 donors are needed for the blood drive. Contact meglousteau@gmail.com for further details and to volunteer.

Liprap

Cross-posted at Humid City

V-Day Pileup: On Silence and Violence

There are two links in this post I urge you to contribute to, one being the fund for the recovery of the Garden District robbery and rape victim, the other for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. Read on to see why.

More and more, I’m finding it cannot be avoided, no matter how hard women try. We are still surrounded by people who would put us in what they think is “our place,” a position that tends to be highly restrictive on any and all physical and mental levels.

Tell me I’m crazy. Go on and talk down to me, I dare you.

…the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about. Some men.

Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about al-Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to al-Qaeda and no WMDs, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)…

…Credibility is a basic survival tool. When I was very young and just beginning to get what feminism was about and why it was necessary, I had a boyfriend whose uncle was a nuclear physicist. One Christmas, he was telling–as though it were a light and amusing subject–how a neighbor’s wife in his suburban bomb-making community had come running out of her house naked in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. How, I asked, did you know that he wasn’t trying to kill her? He explained, patiently, that they were respectable middle-class people. Therefore, her-husband-trying-to-kill-her was simply not a credible explanation for her fleeing the house yelling that her husband was trying to kill her. That she was crazy, on the other hand….

Even getting a restraining order–a fairly new legal tool–requires acquiring the credibility to convince the courts that some guy is a menace and then getting the cops to enforce it. Restraining orders often don’t work anyway. Violence is one way to silence people, to deny their voice and their credibility, to assert your right to control over their right to exist. About three women a day are murdered by spouses or ex-spouses in this country. It’s one of the main causes of death in pregnant women in the U.S. At the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible.

Events and discussions will occasionally converge that lead me to a boiling point on this subject…

Why it’s disgusting and ignorant of you to imply that a woman caught large Mardi Gras beads in a risque manner, for instance. Yeah, it’s one of the oldest, sexist, dumbest Carnival tropes, but it does get tiring after a while. I caught huge, LSU-emblazoned beads just from being at the start of the Thoth parade route. Next Carnival season, I’m gonna ask the next guy I see with giant beads on what he flashed for them.

A list of the 10 cities where women earn the highest salaries is always nifty, but women are still earning less than men.

The horrific news about the murder of paraplegic Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius‘ girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was an advocate for victims of sexual abuse.

Controversy over the Eve Ensler-organized One Billion Rising Campaign, which I only just heard about today, but I also wonder about its premise…as do many other women around the world.:

I recently listened to a Congolese woman talk in a speak-easy setting of radical grassroots feminists. She was radiantly and beautifully powerful in her unfiltered anger towards the One Billion Rising movement, as she used the words “insulting” and “neo-colonial”. She used the analogy of past crimes against humanity, asking us if we could imagine people turning up at the scenes of atrocities and taking pictures or filming for the purposes of “telling their story to the rest of the world”. Take it one step further and try to imagine a white, middle class, educated, American women turning up on the scene to tell survivors to ‘rise’ above the violence they have seen and experienced by…wait for it…dancing. “Imagine someone doing that to holocaust survivors”, she said.

I had occasion to speak with someone about the recent kidnapping, robbery, beating, and rape of a young woman in the Garden District, and large chunks of the conversation revolved around the same tropes that come up whenever something like this happens to any woman. It all came around to our living in a world where women are taught “not to be raped,” and the suspicion that comes up is generally directed first against the woman who is the victim rather than the perpetrators. When a victim’s first move is to tell her would-be comforters and shelterers “Don’t touch me. I’m evidence,” then we know who the burden of proof is on.

This hasn’t ended with the capture of the criminals and their upcoming trial. Though a large amount of funds has been raised thus far for the victim’s rehabilitation, she will need far more than that – keep contributing here. This friend of a friend of mine will be grateful.

I ask you to also consider that state budget cuts will likely destabilize what structures there are to assist women who have been victims of domestic violence as well – among them New Orleans’ own Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. They accept donations of time or money here.

Know of any other needy organizations in the city or state that help female victims of abuse, rape, or violence? Please contribute names and links in the comments. It’ll be the best Valentine’s Day gift you give. Honest.

Sandy Hook Elementary School’s Chorus & Jennifer Hudson sing of hope in nation’s murder capital

Via Rafael Delgadillo, shared with his permission. I very much admire Rafael’s thoughts, perspective, and clarity re: last night’s events:

Last night’s game will go down as one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever. For the great play, the blackout, and for coming back to NOLA for the first time in 11 years.

However, for me, the most memorable moment was before the game. To see the Sandy Hook Elementary School Choir pair up with Jennifer Hudson (whose mother, brother, and nephew were shot to death in 2008) in singing “America the Beautiful” literally in the middle of this country’s most violent city.

Perhaps I’m looking into it too deeply, but those of you who know me well will understand. That moment was moving. Though it is a great song, to me it had lost its meaning over time, like all songs do. But as I heard it last night, it struck me more as a song about the hope that we have for this country’s potential rather than a declaration of our exceptionalism.

The irony of it all. Jennifer Hudson and Sandy Hook’s community reminding us that we can do great things, like curb gun violence on one hand. On the other, the NFL used this city to put American overindulgence on display and quite literally sucked the energy out of one this nation’s poorest cities in the process.

Sorry if this is too personal, but sometimes… you just gotta…

#GoNOLA

Thank you, Rafa, for sharing these powerful thoughts and words.

How many Mayors does it take to fix a busted streetlight?

Photo by Grace Wilson @GraceLovesNOLA — used with permission.

I’m sensing a recurring trend with regard to our city officials’ modus operandi… Long-overdue sewerage system repairs needed? Pass the cost on to ratepayers’ bills to the tune of a 114% cumulative increase over eight years’ time! Broken streetlights? Hike the Entergy bill $24-36 per year with no clearly articulated and documented plan for implementation or proposed sunset date!

On Tuesday, 1/8/13, the New Orleans City Council’s Public Works Committee convened a single-subject meeting: to hear the initial proposal regarding a requested addition to the city’s Entergy franchise fee. I was relieved that several of our Councilmembers questioned the proposal outright and indicated that this matter requires additional scrutiny.

Areas of particular concern included potential savings to be realized through increased energy efficiency and if such savings could be leveraged to decrease maintenance costs as a recurring revenue stream. Councilmember Susan Guidry also questioned whether this proposed increase to the franchise fee was even legal.

“‘We’ve got a lot of numbers in here,’ council member Stacy Head said, referring to the presentation made Tuesday. ‘But, I’m unable to extract from these numbers exactly what we’re going to do.'” Council President Head also requested that when this matter is discussed before this committee again, the proposal be structured in the manner of a grade school student’s mathematical word problem to best demonstrate the impact of the improvements and long-term savings to be realized. Council President Head and District C Councilmember Kristin Palmer both stated that they’d prefer see a “sunset” provision for the possible increase.

Reportedly Mayor Mitch Landrieu pitched the idea of an increased Entergy franchise fee when he presented his proposed 2013 budget late last year. In a recent interview, he stated, “‘At the end of the day it’s the people of New Orleans who pay for everything, whether you pay it through taxes or Entergy bill,’ said Landrieu. ‘It’s the people of New Orleans who either get the service or don’t have the services.'” The issue of streetlight repairs and maintenance has been a struggle for the Landrieu Administration from the start — the opening gambit in addressing this problem was to award new contracts in 2011, early in the Mayor’s term, when budgetary issues concerning this need were already known to exist.

During the committee meeting last Tuesday, Council President Head was surprised to discover that the recently-approved 2013 budget did not include any allocations for streetlight repairs, replacement, or maintenance. In a carefully neutral manner, she stated, “In our budget we did not allow one dime for the routine maintenance and replacement of ligh tbulbs. This reveals a flaw in our budget process.” It was my impression that her remark was a subtle calling-out of the Administration’s abysmal failure to include maintenance costs for something so obvious.

As I understand it, the Administration submits a budget to the City Council and the Council gets to ask questions and nibble at its edges, but the Administration essentially calls the shots from the get-go. The Council gets to appropriate money to various departments, but the departments — regardless of what they told the Council in their written proposals or during the budget hearings — has total control over the spending once approved.

While the Council appropriates lump sums, the Administration, via its departments, has absolute control after that point, with no reconciliation after the fact. All the Council can do is wring their hands and call the appropriate officials to committee meetings (who seem to sometimes simply ignore such calls); the Council has no means of recourse except to try and reign them in next annual budget session.

The budget for the Department of Public Works was likely submitted by Lt. Col. Mark Jernigan, the Director of Public Works for the City of New Orleans… but under this Administration, it seems that all decisions run through Mayor Landrieu without fail; any delegation of authority is illusory. Accordingly, this would mean that Mayor Landrieu himself is even more responsible than your run-of-the-mill executive with regard to this so-called”flaw” in the budgeting process.

(It was interesting, too, that a City of New Orleans press release regarding streetlight repairs was issued mere minutes prior to the start of the Public Works Committee meeting.)

If our city’s so-called “Cultural Economy” is so profitable, why is our city reportedly broke (without funding available for, oh, consistent ordinance enforcement efforts), resulting in our City’s Administration holding its hand out yet again, demanding more from New Orleanians?

These rate increases, added fees, and tacked-on charges hit those living on fixed incomes the hardest, and there are no checks or balances in place to determine if these rate increases and surcharges are being spent appropriately and wisely.

I think it’s time for Mayor Landrieu to start doing more with less… I propose that this begins with appropriation the Office of Cultural Economy’s slush fund and applying it to infrastructure repairs.

(As a friend quipped the other day about the Mayor’s recent press release and fanfare regarding the 2012’s record 61 film projects in New Orleans, “The mayor complains about state budget cuts, yet lauds the tax credit that is, in part, responsible.”)

While discussing the potential increase, another friend suggested, “I’d also like see his senior staff donate those whack overtime payments [from the Hurricane Isaac work period] to the Save Our Sons campaign” to be applied to the actually provision of support services (mental health counseling and support, job training, etc.). And another added, “What sort of turn around time in repairs can we expect with that significant of a rate hike? Twenty-four hours?”

I suggest, too, that there is more that our City Council could do, as a body, to counteract some of the b.s. in general and the budgeting flaws in particular. To date during the current Administration, it appears that our Councilmembers have been pitted against one another through Mayor Landrieu’s adept application of a “divide and conquer” strategy. If a solid majority of the Council bands together to act independently, I believe that real and significant progress could be made — now is the time!

In June 2011, as part of a project to create action reports regarding particular problems in the French Quarter, I took a series of photographs to document several of the most seriously damaged or missing streetlights. While some have been repaired or replaced, it appears that several remain damaged and non-functional. Below are a series of “Then” and “Now” photographs for your consideration.

The Landrieu Administration has claimed that all of the backlog of damaged and non-functional streetlights have been repaired and that current outages and other problems which arose during this past year were the result of new causal factors, such as Hurricane Isaac. I believe that this is mistaken at best (possibly even duplicitous), as demonstrated by the “then” and “now” photos below.

Corner of Chartres & Toulouse Streets on 6/1/2011

Same corner on 1/9/2013 (Now with cheap Mardi Gras bead detailing!)

Corner of Royal & Iberville Streets on 6/1/2011

Same location on 1/9/2013 (One Shell Square had temporarily disappeared into the fog.)

225 Decatur Street on 6/1/2011

Same location on 1/9/2013 (Possibly repaired and damaged in the extreme again?)

Lamppost at 1012 Governor Nicholls with missing panel in its base on 6/1/2011

Same location on 1-9-2013 (Apparently this repair was considered to be “good enough for government work!”)

Additionally, French Quarter lampposts that are knocked down are not being repaired or replaced. At last count, there are 17 missing lampposts, a circumstance that impacts the safety of all who visit or reside in the Quarter. The following is a particularly noteworthy location of this type: On Sunday, October 16, 2011, NOPD officers found 37-year old murder victim Dr. Brent Hachfeld, an optometrist from Slidell, lying prone and bleeding from the back of his head near the corner of Dauphine and Dumaine Streets (more than four months after the photo on the left was taken at that same location).

Uptown/Lakeside corner of Dauphine and Dumaine Streets on 6/1/2011 — lamppost missing, wires exposed.

Same location on 1/9/2013 (Note: This corner was repaved as part of the Paths to Progress project. Unlike other locations with missing lampposts, at least this one wasn’t paved over.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One final discrepancy worth noting (a punchline, if you will): A significantly damaged lamppost in the French Quarter serves as the home of a well-documented geocache that was created in July 2007… I know this because I found and logged its location just last week. I also know for a fact that this particular lamppost was included in the listing of damaged streetlights reported in June 2011. To say that all of the city’s broken streetlights were repaired prior to the start of 2013 is simply untrue.

Nine Shot 3 Dead. Woman shouts “Enough is enough!” at NOLA Crime

The following piece was originally posted on Nordette Adams’ blog, The Urban Mother’s Book of Prayers on May 30. She has graciously given permission to repost it here.

This is the photo I saw when I visited NOLA.com today. The caption says that a distraught woman is being carried after learning that a seven-year-old girl was shot during a birthday celebration (for a 10-year-old boy) “just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. ”  A girl, age 5, and a woman, 33, both died, and the birthday boy himself was grazed by bullets in the face and leg, according to the the Times Picayune, New Orleans’s primary newspaper. Early reports said that in total, five people had been shot, and you may read the full story at the Times Picayune/NOLA.com website. Since then, the death toll has risen.

The photo above unnerved me, but I still recognized that it illustrates one of the concerns of this blog, which is that mothers, wives, aunts, grandmothers–women who want their children and loved ones to survive–are repeatedly caught in the crossfire of rampant violence either as shooting victims themselves or through the loss. The photo, however, did not surprise me because I had already received a notice in email from WWL-TV reporting a “quintuple shooting.” According to WWL, the woman who died was Shawanna “Nonnie” Pierce, mother of three. She was not part of the birthday party; she was on her way to return a rental car.

In the this video , a woman shouts, “Enough is enough!” Who would disagree with her? Coincidentally, the family celebrating the birthday party were interviewed on television just a few years ago during an anti-crime rally calling for an end to the violence. Members said they hoped the rallies worked because something had to be done to stop the violence.

According to WWL, three people died and in total, nine were shot. From the station’s written account, here are some quotes:

“It’s time to end it. Enough is enough,” said Doris Stewart, the victims’ great aunt. “One baby dead, one laying in the hospital trying to survive.”

The mayor and police chief reacted with fury.

“Clearly the cowardice of these shooters must be and will be overcome by the will of the people of New Orleans. We do know that unfortunately when young children are hurt, people do come forward quick, and they come forward with good information,” Chief Ronal Serpas said.

“Both the chief and the commissioner and I and everybody else are calling on everybody who was out here. We’ve got to find these guys, and we’ve got to end this violence in the city of New Orleans,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The birthday party incident was the last of four shootings on a terribly violent day:

The picture to the left shows Brianna Allen, the 5-year-old who died. She had recently graduated from kindergarten. Brianna’s grandmother also mourns a son who was recently buried.

In other sad news, the City of Chicago experienced a plague of violence over the Memorial Day weekend. There, 40 people were shot and 11 are dead. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said that there area a “set of economic issues” … and “a set of cultural issues” that feed into the violence that “we are not talking about.” I would say that this is also true in New Orleans, although I know some people get offended when anyone brings up the cultural issues that hurt rather than help. Perhaps we will soon be fed up enough with the cultural issues that factor into our destruction to talk about and address them with power and determination.

Assault on Local Home Health Nurse Precipitates Fundraiser/Outreach Program

The HALO Foundation
Holistic Healing for Violent Crime Victims in Healthcare

On Thursday, January 26, 2012 the crime that persists in the City of New Orleans shocked us again. And this time it hit very close to home. One of our own, a home health nurse, who has dedicated her life to home care service, became another Victim of Violent Crime, another statistic in the long list that pervades our community. At 3:30 p.m., in the middle of a beautiful Thursday afternoon, while arriving at a patient’s home, she was robbed at gunpoint, abducted and assaulted.

We all heard the blip on television that Thursday evening and perhaps even a bit through the weekend. But just how many of us paid attention? Just another crime, we all think. And then more information is revealed. The woman is a home health nurse. Uneasiness settles in as she begins to have a face. We realize she is a mother, a daughter, a friend, a caregiver, one like us and the ripple effect begins. For those in the home care and hospice industries, this is a daily fear. For those in healthcare, we recognize we can sometimes be a target. And all of us in the healthcare industry know the unique needs of a Victim of Violence. We are too acutely aware of the long-term effects these acts can have not only on the Victim, but on their families. We know how long and how difficult the road to healing can be.

We call her “Angel” because she needs and wants to be anonymous at this time. She is surrounded by a strong support group of family, friends and mental health professionals. She is comforted, yet gives comfort. Her strength amazes us. She has many needs that encompass the physical, the psychological, the emotional and even the practicality of financial and legal needs. She must process this, begin a path to healing, deal with the stress of the legal aspects and must have a means of support.

She recognizes she needs help, and is willing to accept. She also realizes how this tragic event has affected the home health and hospice community. As a dedicated caregiver who has experienced violence, she seeks a way to care for colleagues who may in the future also become a Victim, and to also work towards better safety systems and policies.

Through this desire, and her need for anonymity, The Healthcare Angels Lifeline Outreach Foundation a/k/a The HALO Foundation was formed on February 15, 2012. A dedicated fund for “Angel” has been established at Regions Bank for donations directed to her. Donations can be made at any Regions Bank to the account of “The HALO Foundation.” 100% of donations made to this account go directly to “Angel.”

We Need Your Help!

Request for Volunteers: We are currently seeking individuals who want to proactively be involved. Our needs are many and we need volunteers and leaders. We have established the following Committees needing volunteers – Program Development, Financial, Fundraising, Public Relations, Information Technology and a Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors. If you or someone you know would like to be involved, please contact any one of us listed at the bottom of this page.

Fundraising: In an effort to help “Angel” concentrate on healing we would like to assist her financially by sponsoring a series of fundraisers. Currently, we are announcing that The HALO Foundation is sponsoring a fundraising event for Angel’s benefit to be held at Mid-City Rock’nBowl on Sunday, June 10, 2012 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00pm. We are in the preliminary planning stages at this time and are working on entertainment and a Silent Auction. We need volunteers and humbly ask that you consider giving us your TIME to help us plan and execute this event, to assist with planning the entertainment or helping to collect donations for the Silent Auction. Please help us in having a successful and fun-filled event by donating your time.

Please share this with your staff, colleagues, family and friends. For More Information:

Mary Kathryn Nichols
President
504-339-9802
MaryKYoung@att.net mail to: MaryKYoung@att.net

Michele Schellhaas, R.N.
Vice-President
504-296-9001
Mds0919@yahoo.com mail to: Mds0919@yahoo.com

Jane Fountain
Secretary/Treasurer
504-236-9925
Tillytoo@aol.com mail to: Tillytoo@aol.com

The Healthcare Angels Lifeline Outreach Foundation
a/k/a The HALO Foundation
Holistic Healing for Violent Crime Victims in Healthcare

Mission Statement
The mission of The HALO Foundation is to provide support, resources and a pathway for holistic healing addressing the physical, psychological, emotional, financial and legal needs for members of the healthcare community who become victims of violent crime while in the service of administering care to others.

Vision Statement
Our medical community will feel free to administer necessary care to others without fearing for their own safety.

Our Goals
Our goal is simple, yet two fold. We want to provide support and comfort to our colleagues and their families who become victims of violence and to give them a sense of empowerment so they may recover to their full life potential. In addition, we want to be proactive in addressing the safety concerns of healthcare workers in our community. To address these goals we have issued a 7-point plan:

• To provide financial assistance to allow victims and their families to concentrate on recovery;
• To provide a peer support network;
• To provide a network of medical and legal professionals to ensure advocacy through law enforcement, judicial, and healthcare systems;
• To offer in partnership, safety, self-awareness and self-defense presentations, seminars and other professional trainings to healthcare workers;
• To promote community awareness of the daily dangers faced by home care professionals in an effort to promote collaborative community action efforts to stop victimization;
• To work to improve policies and procedures of the medical and legal professions in the treatment of victims of violence throughout the crisis;
• To collaborate with law enforcement and healthcare associations/organizations in an effort to affect the Safety Policy and Procedures and Safety Performance Improvement Plans to better protect healthcare providers working in field positions.

Compromise – is it worth it?

I’m up in rural Mississippi visiting family. I’m sitting in a room lit up by the sunshine streaming through the window and listening to the lilt of wind chimes right outside. It’s calm and quiet and I’m loving it. It makes me wonder why I live in a city full of noise, long lines everywhere you go and the daily count of dead bodies  by murder when I could be living where the pace of life is relaxed, coming and going is pleasantly easy and the only people who die violently are car accident victims. And that’s fairly rare. But, it’s only Tuesday – I’ve only been here three days – and usually by about the fifth or sixth day I’m missing the vibrancy, the color, the music, the culture, the life of the city. Nothing is perfect in this world and oftentimes we have to accept compromise in deciding our life’s path. Lately, however, I find myself so incredibly angry and saddend by the unrelenting pace of murder in our city, especially when it involves children, and I think about how it wears on one’s psyche and whether it’s worth being exposed to that every day for the other more beautiful aspects of life in the city. I can’t even imagine being a parent and raising a child here and the worry they must live with everyday.

It’ll be interesting to see how I feel on the fifth day this time.

Stop Being Comfortable

Just something on my mind this morning as I read the news about yet another person killed, just for helping… When are we going to stop just being comfortable? We are all comfortable until it hits right on our doorstep, but that shouldn’t be. This is our city, our people, our community, our love so this is all a part of us and affects us all. So when are we going to stop being comfortable? When will we stop looking at the news being devastated for a moment, then go right back to our lives? When will start understanding how this all is affecting our future, our city’s future, our children’s future? When will we stop being comfortable?

For me, as I reflect today; If I wasn’t from New Orleans; this day right now I wouldn’t want to visit. I would be disgusted at all the things I hear going on and terrified and scared probably for those who live here. We as New Orleans citizens don’t understand that though, because we been here so long, dealt with this so long that it’s not affecting us anymore, but it’s time for this mentality to stop. We can’t progress, move forward and be Effective New Orleans citizens, if we don’t start feeling affected by the crime in this city. Take for a moment and imagine all the hurting mothers all around this city right now crying because their baby is gone or the mothers who are worried to let their children out their sight because they don’t know if they will ever get the chance to see them again. Imagine them and their hurt and how it affects their lives. Imagine it was you and get angry about it and use that anger to be a part of the change. Look at all the kids around you and imagine their future. You want to see them have one, well this can only come to happen when we all get a little less comfortable and start doing something. Getting involved in our community, becoming informed, informing others, getting our thoughts her, volunteering in the community to change the lives of youth and just letting them know you there. We can’t just depend on police department; we also have to do our part in this too. Every little piece of action helps make big change. Do you know how powerful this city could be, how we could regain our own city if everyone got uncomfortable and do their part. Step out your world and just start opening your eyes and understand that this has to stop now. Our hearts are being broken daily and with each murder a piece of the soul our city has goes away, a chip of us goes away. We need to preserve our culture for all the wonderful things it is. This is a city of passion and love. We saying we love this city can’t be enough because love is an action word and we must do our part.

Sorry for my early morning rant. Excuse the language.

Guest Blogger Dawn (aka FQP) on anarchist posters in the FQ

Recently a friend posted some photos she’d taken of several placards recently posted in the French Quarter/Marigny area. A conversation ensued and I asked her to write up something about her opinion of the message the posters were broadcasting. Dawn is a photographer and has lived in the city off and on for most of her life beginning when she was a child. Shortly after Katrina, she made New Orleans her permanent home and lives in the upper ninth ward.

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I walk often in the Quarter trying to take shots of New Orleans from a local perspective, rather than usual shots you always see from vacationers. As I was walking on Decatur I happened to come across one of those sticky posters you see slapped on a pole or whatever happens to be at eye level. The image that I first saw was of a machine gun…an AK I believe it is. As I stopped and read the poster I was rather flabbergasted at its words.

Now at first appearance, if I was a tourist this would scare the shit out of me. In fact, even as a local I was determined to find out a bit more. Who is this posting this??? What is their supposed message? At a time when we will have many tourists here for Mardi Gras, I am still trying to form an opinion.

After going to their website nolaanarcha.blogspot.com and reading, it seems to me they are very much at cross purposes and contradict much of their own observations and rants.

On one hand they are promoting the poor, and make some very valid points on the problems with New Orleans. I actually agree with several of them in regard to our housing problem. I have been touting the idea of selling houses that are left abandoned for $ 1.00, require them to bring the house up to code within 3 years, live in it for 5 and then be eligible to sell it. This program worked extremely well in areas such as Detroit and a small town called Sanford, Florida where I used to live myself.

Then on the other hand they become bigots and racists by grouping this as a race war with posters such as this one:

This is in response to the new curfew which would be in place to keep those 16 and under out of the French Quarter after 8 pm unless accompanied by an adult or going to/from work. This curfew is in effect for ALL children no matter their race…Why then does the website and poster seen here make it a race issue? It’s not about race, it’s about everyone’s safety considering the rise in crime in the entire city. To say a curfew “ Effectively teaches kids to get used to living under permanent Martial Law” is bullshit to me. Many cities across America have curfews! You can bet they don’t have the crime stats we do in New Orleans.

The website and the person’s message that the city is trying to create “White Zones” does nothing but ferment attitudes that have been in place for way to long in this city. It seems to me that to cry and whine (along with a bit of a warped attitude) because things are now being rebuilt, laws that benefit everyone are being put in place, and communities are becoming much more diverse than in recent times sends an extremely unrealistic message of what New Orleans is all about.

The website conflicts many times in its articles. On one hand they advocate for the poor, the homeless, green initiatives and how new programs are revitalizing the neighborhood, but then goes on to say it’s the white population only that is benefiting. The Author’s anger comes across to me as if he is very much stuck in a time warp that really doesn’t exist today. His posters are in places that are
extremely diverse. To group people or to try to make tourists think that it’s only the black population that are in these zones is ridiculous to say the least. I live in one of these zones….I am living next to not less than 5 houses that are considered blighted and abandoned. I pay an outrageous price for my rent just like the author of the site. I battle New Orleans crime, fear of walking my dog, sitting on my porch and corrupt politicians just as he does. However, I am White. Where does this put me in the Anarchists eyes?

I had posted this poster and it’s URL to get other’s take on the site on a G+ post and received mixed opinions. I am only one person, and this is only my opinion, but I think residents should be aware of this message being sent to the masses.

Corruption as an offensive strategy?

Last year, New Orleanians heralded the hiring of a new NOPD Superintendent as a fresh start (even if the person in question is known to have had his eye on this post for more than 15 years’ time). I wonder: Just how much meaningful change is possible when the NOPD continues to keep officers on board in prominent roles who have well-documented tarnished records or, at the very least, who might have axes to grind?

Major Raymond C. Burkart, Jr. has a history of questionable actions stretching back through multiple NOPD command reconfigurations, including allegedly threatening an assistant U.S. attorney in 2001 and being indicted on bankruptcy fraud charges, as detailed by The Gambit in 2003. In light of recent events, I find it curious that Maj. Burkart has reportedly recently been assigned by the NOPD to work within the troubled 9-1-1 emergency dispatch center.

Captain Frederick C. Morton of the NOPD’s Inspection Division wrote the report issued in March 2011 that threw a spotlight on the police detail work issue; this report also cited the NOPD Eighth District for downgrading reported crimes to perhaps paint an impression of improvement. However, Capt. Morton has also been discovered to be the agent of record for “Rosewood Watchmen, LLC” which was also recently suspended from doing detail work. Isn’t that a bit like the cast-iron pot calling the kettle black (while acting like it’s porcelain and also microwave-safe)?

Captain Norvel Orazio was fired by former NOPD Superintendent Eddie Compass from the post of First District Commander (in which he’d succeeded Compass) for reducing criminal charges to lesser offenses in an attempt to make it appear that crime was on the decline in his District. So why, then, is Capt. Orazio currently employed by the NOPD in the Third District? Oh, right. He was reinstated by the City of New Orleans. Some suggest that the crucial factor in this reversal of fortune was the possibility that “Compass’ record was not unassailable…”.

Captain Michael Glasser is admittedly the curious outlier in this list (One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong!). While his actions do not beat a path to incidents of disciplinary action or the taint of corruption, it should be noted that he has been critical of Supt. Serpas’ reform efforts. Even his semi-positive responses to Supt. Serpas’ actions seem, at best, like backhanded compliments (such as these remarks regarding a recent NOPD employee survey):

“Capt. Michael Glasser, head of the Police Association of New Orleans, which represents officers’ interests, said the results were encouraging. But he added that he wished more officers had participated.

“‘The survey certainly reflects what the respondents said, but it doesn’t reflect all of the officers,’ said Glasser, who acknowledged taking part in the survey.”

In New Orleans, gossip and rumors are accepted as time-honored components of our city’s eclectic social currency. There’s been a lot of talk going around as of late… Some are saying that these specific members of the NOPD’s upper brass were displeased with potential reform efforts to be implemented by Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

If these four men aren’t able to attack Supt. Serpas directly, is it possible that they’re using a strategy of “the best defense is a good offense” and any available means to target the Superintendent indirectly?