This time, though, there were no sirens. In fact, there was hardly a sound as hundreds of candle-carrying people followed on foot behind the police cars in silent contemplation of the blood that continues to spill in west Carrollton and around New Orleans.
Organized in response to the April 1 shooting of 18-year-old AmeriCorps volunteer Joe Massenburg, the march was still being announced Saturday when two men were injured in a shooting around 10 p.m. at the corner of Jeanette and Monroe streets. Around 4:30 p.m. Sunday — less than four hours before the march was to begin — another shooting injured two more men at the same intersection, which is about a block from where Massenburg was killed.
Investigators believe the two shootings this weekend were “likely related” to each other, said NOPD Second District Commander Paul Noel, though neither showed any ties to Massenburg’s death.“Since his killing on Monday, there has been more violence in the area,” said Andreas Hoffman of Green Light New Orleans, the energy-efficiency nonprofit where Massenburg was volunteering, and one of the organizers of the march. “I think it’s important that we get together, and get together as a community. It’s together that we can do something.”
As dusk fell, several hundred people gathered for the march. Many were longtime residents of the neighborhood, and many others wore AmeriCorps insignia on their shirts and jackets. Vermont native Felicia Bosley, who spent three years rebuilding homes through the program, said volunteers not only work together but also live together.
“We are family,” she said. “That’s why I’m here, to show support for my family, and for his family. … I think this will have us come closer together.”
Before the walk began, organizers asked that the marchers not speak as they walked. John “Moose” Glenn, a member of the Pigeontown Steppers, said it was a completely different approach from other anti-crime marches he has participated in, but that its message would be just as clear.
“It makes them focus and makes them aware,” Glenn said. “Silence is more effective than being vocal.”
As the marchers walked down Jeanette, doorways opened, and neighbors called to family members from inside to see. As the group rounded onto Eagle toward Birch, something pop-popped in the distance, and an old man on a nearby balcony speculated, “That’s gunshots right there.”
The group marched past the white dove painted on Eagle with the date “4-1-2013″ marking where Massenburg was slain and headed down Birch, passing a corner establishment. Several people with drinks in their hand laughed at first, and then someone on the curb called out, “Stop the violence!”
The marchers passed the dark hulk of the old Priestly school, which neighbors have fought for years to have renovated and reopened as a neighborhood school that would breathe new life into the community. An older woman stood on the opposite side of the street, her hands clasped behind her back, nodding in understanding at any of the marchers who looked her way.
At the next intersection, two more women walked up to see the crowd. “Thank God for this visual,” one woman cried out. “Somebody cares! Praise the Lord!”