As the celebrities and athletes who came to town to party during the NBA All-Star Weekend board planes heading back to their posh lives — after they Instagram images of themselves looking fabulous and doing fabulous things like eating beignets and shooting hoops with underprivileged youth — New Orleans remains as bloody as ever.
This week in violence, counting backwards:
On Monday, four people were shot in separate incidents across New Orleans –- near City Park, Gentilly, Uptown, Lower Ninth Ward. No one died (by the time of this writing) but two of the victims were critically wounded.
On Sunday morning, a New Orleans Police Department officer shot a man four times at a corner store in Hollygrove. There was some confusion about whether he was shoplifting. The details are sketchy. Eyewitness accounts vastly differ from that of the cop. A man is a dead.
On Saturday, the murder scene was in Gert Town.
On Friday, two cyclists were beat with aluminum bats while riding along Esplanade Avenue. No one died but a fractured jaw is one hell of an injury.
On Thursday, there was a murder-suicide near the Fair Grounds, a fatal stabbing out in New Orleans East and another murder in the Carrollton area.
The headlines are scary — random acts of violence, retaliatory acts of violence, domestic violence, police violence — though not altogether strange here. It’s violence as usual in New Orleans, and the rest of the world for that matter.
Everywhere I turn there’s a tragic story, where a young person’s life was cut down. Sometimes by other young people. Sometimes by police officers. Sometimes these young people are murdered twice; first walking home in the rain wearing a hoodie drinking tea and eating candy or in a parking lot listening to music — yes, perhaps too loudly, as if that should even matter — and then again during a trial where the character assassination ensues.
The “reasons” (excuses) run together: He was big. I was afraid. I stood my ground. He smoked weed. He was a thug. She threw eggs. It was a prank. I don’t care. I was mad. She was only 15. Doesn’t matter. Didn’t she know that I don’t play? I have a gun. I can shoot. I will. You in the head even.
Jordan Davis looks like Trayvon Martin looks like Wendell Allen looks like Oscar Grant looks like Keith Atkinson looks like Adolph Grimes — young, black and dead.
George Zimmerman looks like Michael Dunn looks like what justice looks like in a stand-your-ground state.
Florida looks like what Mississippi looked like what Bull Connor’s Bombingham looked like 50 years ago looks like what it means for David Warren to be acquitted for Travis McCabe to be back on the force in New Orleans with three years of back pay.
Mardi Gras parades are going to kick into high gear soon; and I’m afraid because here, after the fun, after the overflowing liquor is consumed, people get humbugish and shots usually ring out once the party is over.
Or during the middle of the day. Or after the second line. Or because that’s what happens in New Orleans. We throw a good party. A good repast.
Be safe, or as safe as you can, in New Orleans — this violent, beautiful, little place.
jewel bush, a New Orleans native, is a writer whose work has appeared in The (Houma) Courier, The Washington Post, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles Magazine, and El Tiempo, a bilingual Spanish newspaper. In 2010, she founded MelaNated Writers Collective, a multi-genre group for writers of color in New Orleans dedicated to cultivating the literary, artistic and professional growth of emerging writers. Her three favorite books are Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Catcher in the Rye, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.