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Day 689: A Government Deserved, A Government Deserved?

This post is dedicated to everyone who wants to live, not be killed or watch people be killed in New Orleans, with no hope for justice.

Before the Eddie Jordan situation goes farther into the realm of race, politics and history, let’s talk about the case that brought on this latest bout of public outrage. A lawyer friend just told me that the Central City murder case should never have been accepted by the DA’s office at all. “It wasn’t a strong case, and it was wrong for the DA’s office to proceed with it. Now, they’re paying the consequences of a misjudgment, especially one surrounding such a high-profile killing.” If what my friend says is true (please give me more info), the DA’s office is still incompetent, for having taken on a weak case and not working with NOPD to establish stronger evidence and witnesses against the killer. But, I guess my friend’s point is that Jordan and his staff should not be taken to task over releasing Michael Anderson because of a missing (and possibly weak) witness, but instead for not rejecting the case and demanding further investigation months ago.

No, this is not the scapegoating of the lone Eddie Jordan. The entire triumvirate of NOPD, DA’s office and Mayor’s office stinks to high heaven, but New Orleans has to start somewhere, and the DA’s office — its ego and posturing, and its refusal to cooperate with other governmental agencies when this rebuilding city so badly needs to survive — is Stop 1. That Jordan uttered the words “it’s not my fault” shows that he refuses to accept even partial blame and that he think it’s all about him.

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Now, on to race – Brian Denzer gave a great and passionate speech against D.A. Eddie Jordan at City Hall last afternoon, only to be rebuked by Mama D and the pro-Jordan “you hate us because we’re black” peanut gallery. What has to happen to get past this race divide so that justice can return to being truly blind? The centuries of injustice against black Americans is utterly palpable, even to me who is neither black nor white, but can we, for one post-Katrina/Flood moment, put that aside and give justice to New Orleanians lost and who are continuing to disappear from this planet? And what about the lads who died in Central City? Were they not black, too?

Defeated like Brian is how I often feel, powerless against an entrenched system and the really tight grip on power that politicians enjoy here (or anywhere in America, for that matter). After every instance of violation, violence or City Hall boondoggling, D and I echo one of Brian’s sentiments, “The more I feel defeated, the more I’m inclined to concede that you get the criminal justice system you deserve, and leave this magnificent city to its doom.”

What a luxury it is to feel this way, to say “I’m leaving” on every onslaught of defeat. Given my itinerant past, I’ve never really known home, but recognize and utterly respect the notion. My thoughts thus turn to those who cannot leave because this is home, the cost to start over is prohibitive, or just because they wouldn’t survive anywhere else. Don’t they deserve a criminal justice system that works? So, we stay and work for change, as long as our will, renewed and depleted daily, allows.

7 comments… add one
  • Karen July 19, 2007, 4:50 PM

    My passion for this City is on life support.

  • Anonymous July 19, 2007, 8:22 PM

    Simply beautiful post. You captured a lot of what we are feeling in NOLA these days. It’s not easy on the heart or mind.

  • jeffrey July 19, 2007, 10:19 PM

    I don’t think you guys wrong to be disappointed (surprised, I might take issue with but that’s another discussion).

    More importantly, it’s not really necessary to feel defeated. While I believe you correctly perceive an intensifying ugliness afoot, I don’t think the situation is unredeemable. It just probably isn’t… perfectible but who’s really interested in that?

    If nothing else makes you feel better, allow me to leave you with a quote from the controversial review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which appeared in today’s Baltimore Sun. (Don’t worry.. there are no spoilers in this quote)

    Has there ever been a better symbol of depression than the Dementors, the icy, hooded beings who can suck the soul from a person with a deadly kiss, leaving merely an empty husk?

    Readers could enjoy Rowling’s temporary, folksy fix for chasing away the blues (eat chocolate) while applauding the more permanent balm she offers: Concentrate with all your might on the events and people that have made you happy.

    So, you know, have some chocolate (it helps) and cheer up. There are better days ahead. Or at least.. there are days ahead.

  • liprap July 20, 2007, 6:13 AM

    Thank you for the days
    Those endless days,
    those sacred days you gave me.

    I’m thinking of the days,
    I won’t regret a single day
    Believe me.

    -The Kinks

  • Editor B July 20, 2007, 1:16 PM

    You said it very well. I’m listening to Garland Robinette saying (with apparent sincerity) that he’s just plain giving up any hope for change here, so let the good times roll. WTF? I hope we never get like that.

  • MPM July 30, 2007, 1:12 PM

    You write so beautifully that it almost makes me wish I DID have a reason to be living in New Orleans now. (I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but you do write very well!)
    However, if I really think about this — if I had the courage & strength to take a stand & work to prevent the most utterly cold-blooded, ruthless, and senseless violence, there is plenty I could be doing in the city where I am currently living. There is plenty such violence occurring right HERE, and over the past couple of weeks it seems to be growing worse. However, it’s not right in my neighborhood — not in a neighborhood where I chose to live or need to live, much less feel like my life would have little meaning UNLESS I lived there. Which is, I suspect, how a lot of current and former residents do feel about NOLA.
    What is the situation exactly: Are the levels of gun violence much higher across neighborhoods that formerly weren’t as affected by gun violence, pre-Katrina? It’s hard to piece some of this together as a person who lives far away. (And you know that crime can always hit those streets where it is not “supposed” to happen, in all cities/ states, such as the recent home invasion murders in Connecticut).

  • Maitri July 30, 2007, 2:26 PM

    Thanks, MPM!

    Are the levels of gun violence much higher across neighborhoods that formerly weren’t as affected by gun violence, pre-Katrina?

    Yes, because I’ve started to hear gunshots from my house when in the past I didn’t and there are more unsavory characters pretty much loitering and dealing drugs outside (something that never happened pre-K in my ‘hood).

    No, because this is something we could deal with if there weren’t 500 other things that didn’t work like insurance, utility bills, the justice system, the schools, potholes and just plain hopelessness.

    So, I would advise your city to tackle those problems now before some tipping point, one that arrives slowly or very fast, like Katrina and the flood.

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