Saturday, January 31, 2009

Police Misconduct in New Orleans

Lately, the TV has been full to the brim with faces of French Quarter residents, expressing their outrage at the murder of Wendy Byrne. They should be outraged. They should speak out. At the same time, I’ve seen more than a couple of those faces that have been thrown out of most of the local bars, enjoying the hungry press as they rant to a full audience, instead of cornering some hapless tourist in the back corner of a dark barroom. The press is, indeed, covering everyone & anyone who has something to say about this, myself included. They’re all about the sound bite, not the news. That’s what they do. When I started writing about this trend, right here on humid city, it began with a cop, at a desk, not interested in taking a clue that could have led to these killers before they went on their final rampages, shooting Wendy mere minutes after robbing another man just a block away, and robbing as many as four people in a two hour Marigny Stint, only a day later. Just like the Press, Superintendent Riley wants to focus on this awful crime, the murder of an innocent, and tell us about how his new software did the trick. It was actually the witnesses who sat down to give descriptions, and the young lady who turned in private crime camera evidence, but hey, who’s counting? The cops who were supposed to be patrolling there were busy doing god-knows-what, and have been disciplined, but let’s not talk about that. The criminal apathy of the 5th district has been swept under the rug, and once again, all we Marigny/Bywater residents hear is French Quarter, French Quarter, French Quarter. Sure they need protection, too, but most importantly, that’s where the money is. And so it goes. While pundits from near and far chime in about walk-outs and demonstrations, downward spiraling school systems, the War on Drugs and family values, the issue that signaled this current apocolyptic wave was Police Misconduct, plain and simple. Riley says that foot patrols are inefficient. Of course, when he promised them right after Katrina, they were the fix-all. But now, not so much. I suppose the cop blasting his own private car stereo in the 5th district parking lot on Tuesday night, about 11pm, was much more efficient. He rattled my windows and we couldn’t hear the TV over his R&B selections for about 25 minutes. I’m sure that will keep crime off the streets. Just like the cops there who speed recklessly up the one way street the wrong way, causing traffic on St. Claude to come to a screeching hault as a vehicle comes to the intersection, only to find a big ass Tundra rolling headlong at it’s grill. But these are smaller issues. Just like the Quality Of Life Officers warned us about. “If we start with the small stuff, it will reduce crime. If we let it go, they will only get bolder.” And bolder they have become. I recieved the following story and from a reliable source. It could be any of us. “I was driving behind a police car down St Phillip St. towards N Peters. The officer, William Torres, ignored the stop sign at that intersection and began to make a right turn onto N Peters without ever stopping. As a result he ran into a pedestrian who was trying to cross the street. Fortunately, he braked hard and avoided injuring the guy. When the pedestrian put out his palms (as if to say “What the hell?”), the officer got out of his car, grabbed the man, and made him put his hands on the hood of the police car. He started yelling at the guy and reaching for his handcuffs as if he were going to arrest him. I got out of my car and started walking towards them. When Officer Torres saw me coming towards them, he shouted “What’s your problem?”. I said I saw him run the stop sign and run into the pedestrian. He immediately let the pedestrian go (he walked quickly away) and started yelling at me. He again asked what my problem was. I told him I saw what happened and that the pedestrian was not at fault so there was no cause to harass him. He asked me “Do want a ticket?” I replied “A ticket for what? I didn’t do anything”. He said “It’s a simple question: Do you want a ticket- Yes or no?” I said “I’m getting back in my car. I have nothing more to say to you.” I got back in my car and started writing down the officer’s name. He said, “Give me your license. You want to write down my name? I can write too. I know who to harass.” He wrote me a bogus ticket for not wearing a seatbelt (I had been wearing my seat belt, but he couldn’t have know one way or the other because the first time he saw me i was out of my car).” We are living under thug rule. They have badges and guns and a City of New Orleans paycheck, but still, muscle and weapons, kidnapping in handcuffs, hit and run, you name it; There’s a crime spree going on. Focus on the French Quarter avoids dealing with neighborhoods where the crime doesn’t make the news. A Bywater woman stabbed to death in her home, as yet unsolved. A hit and run victim, still crippled, and no arrests made, athough the driver and vehicle were found and identified. NO cops on the beat, whatsoever, and there’s that refusal to act on clues that could have saved Wendy’s life. Warren Riley’s commitment to bragging about his new software has nothing to do with fighting crime. His dropping the French Quarter name, over and over, is a hard sell to the media, to tourism, to play The Hero in this totally aviodable nightmare, while his minions go unchecked. If there were cops not on their patrol beat that night, and he didn’t know it, what else is running amok without his knowledge? A lot, I’m guessing. Now a story of extortion and bullying in the French Quarter, to avoid the awful truth that a cop ran a stop sign and grazed a pedestrian. Bullying a citizen to avoid penalty for wrong doing is a criminal act as sure as any mob threat. Harrassing or intimidating a witness is a Federal Crime. Until we get our own police force under control, and behaving like police (remember ‘protect & serve’?) no amount of civil demonstration or revamping the Family Unit is going to make a spit ball’s worth of difference. Why would street robbers obey laws when those laws are just the rules of a bigger gang with guns of their own? We, my friends, must watch and document. Give the press something else to talk about: Police Misconduct. Get Riley off of your TV screen and back to work. Get your story out there. Lord David Skull Club New Orleans

Monday, January 26, 2009

While You're Here....

Somebody asked me; "Hey! You think you can change the world or something?" I replied; "We all change the world, simply by being in it. After that, it's a matter of direction and impact." Every moment of every day, choices are made. In each of those moments, great potential lives. Define your life by the ones you make, rather than by the ones you do not. You are not just living. You are life, itself.

New Orleans Citizens Against Crime - Meeting this Saturday

NOCAC - New Orleans Citizens Against Crime, will hold a meeting Saturday, January 31st, at the Skull Club Alternative Gallery, in the Marigny, corner of Spain & Rampart Streets. Meeting to start at 3pm. The purpose of this meeting is three fold: 1) To bring local citizens together with the intention of creating better contact, higher awareness of community action, and a forum in which those things can and will occur. 2) To collect and share information necessary to take action against crime, to contact and be heard by City Hall, the New Orleans City Council, the NOPD, and the use of citizen support programs, such as the Text Alert Service, recently implemented. 3) To create a functioning model of a New Orleans Citizens Against Crime neighborhood group, with the hopes of members starting their own independently run groups, throughout the City of New Orleans. While initially designed to deal with crime in the 5th District, this meeting is open to all citizens of New Orleans, in the hope that attendees will take the information, and suggested model offered here, to their own immediate neighborhoods, and form independent NOCAC groups of their own. This meeting is NOT open to City Officials, NOPD or the Organized Press. These institutions can & will be informed of any activities of interest once the platform for action is established. As citizens, we wish to exercise our right of assembly in a private setting, to discuss our situation. For more information, contact us at: Lord David Skull Club New Orleans

Sunday, January 18, 2009

At The Cost Of A Life

It’s Sunday, a little past noon and I just got the call. Wendy, the bartender at Aunt Tiki’s on Lower Decatur, was shot and killed in an armed robbery at Governor Nichols and Dauphine Street last night, about 8pm. This is above the ‘Bourbon Street Safety Line’ it’s true, but this neighborhood is where the dog park is, a residential area, a block or so from Cosimo’s. It was 8 o’clock on a Saturday night, a time when couples should be walking out to dinner, and locals are heading home from work, or out for the evening. Apparently, Wendy walked up on a friend who was already being robbed at gun point, and was robbed as well, and then shot.In the back.She died shortly afterwards, on the way to, or at, the hospital. While all of us who knew her, myself among them, are horrified at this terrible, terrible murder, it doesn’t end there. I’ve posted a series of columns here, triggered by Bill Sothern’s editorial about getting robbed in the Marigny, relating how some young black kids with a small semi-automatic pistol robbed him and his wife and friends. Upon finding out the next day that the robbers were using his wife’s cell phone, he went to the police. He says in his post that; ” I was barely able to hold the attention of the police officer at the desk as I explained the evidence that I had discovered and suggested that, so long as the phone was on, maybe they could even locate the user. She took a message but again, no one called me. I called again and again over the following days and left messages for the detective assigned to the case and even called the district lieutenant when those went unanswered. As of this writing, no one has called me to follow up on the calls made from the phone or, as far as I know, made any efforts to investigate the two potentially lethal armed robberies that occurred that night.” When a friend of mine was robbed New Years Eve by junior thugs matching this description, I called for an outcry to the NOPD, hoping to make them act before this went to much farther. Wendy’s killers also match this same description. There we have it. A direct link and patheticly sad story of inaction, followed by continued robbery and now the death of a young local woman. Had the 5th district jumped on the cell phone number and the number called, perhaps this would have led to an arrest, or at least left the perpatrators less bold, less likely to be drunk with horrible power and ready to kill. There is no bringing Wendy back. Her life was ended brutally on an outing, relatively early on a Saturday night. She was robbed of every minute of every day, forever. They took all she had or ever would have, everything she would ever be. The thought that this occured because somebody was too fucking lazy to do their job, too politically oriented to do real police work, too interested in “keeping the New Olreans Brand out there”, makes me so angry I can hardly control myself. Warren Riley and C. Ray Nagin, you were warned. Bill Sothern told the city about this first incident with a story in the Times-picayune. I’ve been hammering away at Humid City, and sending letters to any newspaper or periodical that will listen. Now a local friend is dead, shot down in the street like an animal. What’s it gonna take? How many more New Olreanians will die this year, because some cop just had to take a call on their cell, or stand around the parking lot, showing off their new car stereo, because another citizen was treated like a criminal for trying to give the police some information or report a crime, because the Police Superintendent is on the board of so many quasi-political groups that he can’t or won’t do his fucking job? I don’t want to see a news sound bite of Warren Riley in perfect make-up, talking about imperfect family problems and better education to prevent crime. Billy Sothern showed up at the Station House with a solid clue and was ignored. Now Wendy is dead. I want to see Warren Riley’s resignation, I suppose, and it would be nice to go out for coffee and ice cream after dark without worrying about getting fucking killed, but mostly, I’m sure Wendy’s friends and relatives would like her to be around for Sunday Brunch. She won’t, however, because she’s dead.You let this happen, you rotten sons of bitches.We’ve seen your absolute failure in absolute clarity, and at the cost of a life.There’s nothing more to say, right now.And besides, we’ll be mourning the Death of Another Friend. Rest in Peace, Wendy. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that some stupid, lazy bastards let this happen. You are not forgotten. Lord David New Orleans

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fun with The Creator

I was just writing to an old friend. About The Creator of the Universe. And nail guns, for that matter, but that's another story. As for The Creator, and His Name, and all that, I've come to accept that a divine intelligence that could create the entire universe would be so complex that the mere concept of it would never fit completely in to my psyche. I could see only glimpses at a time. And that's no fun. I'm sure there is one, if no other reason then the fact that I'm sure of it. As to the details and miracles and all that, I can get lost for hours just admiring the opposing thumb. Thanks, Charlie. I love these little chats.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


On the second of January, 2009, I wrote a post for Humid City regarding the failure of the 5th District Police station to properly do it’s job, spurned on, mainly, by another column. Written by Billy Sothern for the Times-picayune, it describes his experience with getting robbed in the Marigny, reporting the robbery, and also alerting the 5th District cops that his wife’s stolen cell phone was still being used, and offering them the number it was calling, after said theft. They never responded. This robbery was about 4 weeks before New Year’s Eve. I am writing today to follow up. This is not merely a case of bureaucratic failure in fighting crime. It’s not enough that the Police Superintendent goes on camera to blame citizens and failed families, a bad school system, et al. The crooks are still out there. And on New Years Eve, approximately 27 days after Billy & his wife & friends were robbed, a very good friend of mine was held up at gun point, mere blocks from the original scene, by two young robbers, fitting the same description, down to the gun itself. These guys are still out there, still robbing and still waving a gun in people’s faces. And I’ll bet hard cash that the 5th distrcit never got back to Bill Sothern to get that number, or investigated that robbery in any serious way. “We can’t predict crime”, they always say. How about two robbers making calls on a stolen phone, and the victim bringing you the number they call? Had you looked into that, perhaps my buddy wouldn’t have started his New Year laying face down on the street with a gun to his head. After he was robbed, my friend went to look for his car, since they had taken his keys, too. Of course, it was gone. He went to the Royal Street station to report it, since it had been parked across Elysian Fields, in another district. The lady cop on duty gave him her raised palm to look at, known as ‘giving the hand’, while she had a lengthy & personal conversation on her cell phone. In fact, she finally stopped another officer to talk with him, so as to not have to interupt her private and personal conversation, being held as she worked the report desk. He told me he could hear other phones ringing, unanswered, as she chatted on. Silence is Violence recently held a ’strike’ or something like it, asking locals to wear red or put up “Crime Happened Here” signs in the Marigny. While I support the huge and ongoing efforts they have made, I found this a little to little and a lot too late. For instance, nobody put one in front of Helen Hill’s door, because other people live there now, I suppose. I drove around the Marigny Bywater area a bit and saw a couple of signs. What this is supposed to accomplish, I have no idea. Those of us who live here already know. The cops don’t give a shit as they ride around looking for free Wifi, single girls, and a place to talk on their cell phones undetected. I respondedto this ‘Strike’ by suggesting that those who have been robbed or otherwise violated, and subsequently ignored or blown off by the NOPD, especially at the 5th district, get together and create a list of these incidents, and present it, en masse, as a ‘failure to perform’ memo, both to the NOPD, at the 5th district and City Hall, and to the local news, perhaps Mister Zurik at WWLTV. Let’s see how they respond to a hundred citizen complaints at a time. I offered to do this at my home, next to the 5th district station, fully aware of the ire I might recieve in return. I even offered to video tape the whole shebang for the media and the protection of those involved. You know how many responses I got back? One. One person was willing to come forward and rally as a citizen, rebuking the Police Who Won’t Help. Still, my offer stands. Email me. Go on. Try me. In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll all hear lots of noise about “Those bastards don’t care” and read lots of blogs about “If this city wants to survive…” You know what? Put up or shut up. The police don’t care how many people wore red arm bands last week. The robbers don’t care how many signs you put up on your block. The police will continue to use their power and priviledge to abuse traffic laws and intimidate citizens to get to the front of the line. And the local citizens will continue to bitch about ‘fairness’ and ‘making a statement’. And sooner or later, one of these new young thugs is gonna fucking kill somebody. You could help stop it right now. But will you? Until we stand up for ourselves, in large numbers, and tell these public servants, in no uncertain terms, to do their fucking jobs, expect to live in fear and under someone’s boot. If you are afraid to walk in to your local police station and state your mind, even with back-up, then you have already lost. Everything. And the only way to get it back is to stand up and look it directly in the eyes. But will you? Will you ring your hands at the end of 2009 when the list is another 179 people dead? Will you say to yourself, I went down there and gave them what for, along with dozens of other people, and it’s not fixed yet, but it’s getting better. Or will you shed a tear for another dead innocent, one whose murder was preventable, but you just didn’t have the time to get involved. It’s your city. If you want it back, take it back. Lord David Skull Club New Orleans

Friday, January 2, 2009

5th District Police Station Falls Short Again

I’ve written before about the 5th district station outside my window. The cars (personal & official) that drive the wrong way out the one way street in to St Claude traffic, the loud music blasting from personal cars in the parking lot, the groups of cops (military & NOPD) who stand around chatting in the back parking lot… The first act they commited after having an Open House for the neighbors, was to ticket half the cars in the neighborhood. The ticket on my car (legally parked in front of my house) had my vin # and plate number, but showed an address several blocks away. The next day my car radio was stolen in broad daylight as the ‘parking lot party’ was in full swing. Then beat cops walked around for a few days and gave up, showing the Fight Against Crime was over. I rode my bicycle up next to police cars whose drivers didn’t notice me, being completley focused on their laptops. As many as half a dozen police cars at a time would park behind my building, jamming up my WiFi by stealing my signal, until I encrypted it. Citizens came forward and identified the driver of a visicous hit & run, only to be told they’d have to identify him in front of his ‘crew’ so he could be issued a mere ticket. No suggestion was made about how to deal with this group of thugs after pointing the finger, except to ‘trust the department’. Now Billy Southern, a guest columnist at the TP, tells his story of getting robbed outside Mimi’s Bar, a well known and busy Marigny hot spot, and trying to turn valuable clues as to the identity of the robbers over to police at the 5th district station. “Hours passed without any word, so I drove downtown to the 5th District. I was barely able to hold the attention of the police officer at the desk as I explained the evidence that I had discovered and suggested that, so long as the phone was on, maybe they could even locate the user. She took a message but again, no one called me. I called again and again over the following days and left messages for the detective assigned to the case and even called the district lieutenant when those went unanswered. As of this writing, no one has called me to follow up on the calls made from the phone or, as far as I know, made any efforts to investigate the two potentially lethal armed robberies that occurred that night.” Read the entire story HERE. It’s time again to call these people out in public. “All that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke Lord David Skull Club New Orleans