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Parades and Second-Line Shootings

Parades and Second-Line Shootings post image

This Mother’s Day weekend, we attended our first Art Car Parade since moving to Houston. It is a once-a-year welcome addition of color, music and a carnival-like atmosphere to the otherwise sterile streets of this city. Tame as the parade was parade watchers’ reaction to a pretty funky spectacle was compared with the level of participation we’re used to in New Orleans, we didn’t get shot at. And there in a nutshell is the result of moving away from the Big Easy: you miss the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One may argue this is a way to survive, but not to live.

Fellow New Orleans blogger Deborah Cotton was one of the 19 victims of yesterday’s second-line shooting. Thankfully, Deb made it through surgery and is in stable condition, but it’s so messed up that she just lived what she knows intimately and raises awareness about: the beauty of the second line culture and the gun violence that occurs during these cultural events, not because of them. Here is a video of Deb talking about how cultural functions held outside are not a cause but an opportunity for young black New Orleanians to settle scores and what the real problem is:

We’ve discussed how pathetic it is that the only reason this particular New Orleans shooting made national headlines is it occurred on Mother’s Day and lent itself easily to headlines. Convenient to call something the Valentine’s Day Massacre, the Christmas Killings, the Boston Marathon Bombings or the Mother’s Day shootings. What if this shooting had happened next weekend? It pains me each time I hear of violence anywhere, but to be completely honest, this particular incident depresses me more because my friends were there and one lies in a hospital bed having dodged an actual bullet and because, as Brentin Mock asks, what kind of animal does this?

… Maybe, the kids of New Orleans are who the media say they are, these “resilient” super humans who’ve encountered so much death — from Katrina to the “murder capital” stats to all the bodies caught in Lil’ Wayne songs — that getting shot or shot at is nothing to them. So dey in good condition. It’s nothing.

I don’t believe that. All I know is that it must take an animal to open fire on a gathering of men, women and children singing and dancing in the streets, celebrating mothers. Who does dat? What does dat?

… I’m already enraged. My rage grows every time I see a picture of those shot laying near pools of blood circulated on Twitter or Facebook or Vine. The images no longer report violence; they merely illustrate and animate it. They damn near auto-tune it, and “followers” automatically tune into it.

What are the City of New Orleans and the New Orleans Police Department doing to protect my friends who are part of the parade and second line from being shot instead of charging exorbitant permit prices of the social aid and pleasure clubs? What are these cultural organizations paying for? To protect the public from themselves?

Going back to the reason for the shootings: No one in the entire course of their upbringing cared or cares about these shooters. The shooters don’t care about anyone else, as is obvious by yesterday’s events, and are creating another generation of young people like them. The spiral continues downwards. Where to break it and how?

Meanwhile, the Governor of Louisiana has completely gutted mental health funding and endorses the teaching of creationism in taxpayer-funded schools, all while chiding those who want to put even the slightest brake on the crazy availability of guns, especially illegal ones, in this country. But we’re good at prayer vigils and task forces, so there’s that.

And before you idiotically write it off as a New Orleans or Louisiana thing, there are armed robberies occurring in homes and driveways all over “nice neighborhoods” in Houston for the same reasons. And the police department here reacts to these events just like its New Orleans counterpart: It reacts.

Disappointment and rage rule right now, but I know this: The way things are will not fix the wrong. This combination of police, government, media and underlying social problems that I mentioned above only serve our current social tenets of bureaucracy, sensationalism and desensitization and they will only make things worse. Change will require giving a damn and a rebuild of values, priorities and those in charge. Are you ready for that? I thought not.

For right now, please join me in wishing Deb a speedy and relatively painless recovery. In lieu of flowers, please check The Gambit for details on a planned fundraiser.

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