Monday, January 3, 2011

Open Letter to the City of New Orleans: Crime in the Streets - Part 2

It started with a short warning posted on Face Book. DJ Tracheotomy posted it, and asked others to share the horrible news: Armed, masked men were invading homes, kidnapping people from their door steps, committing rape, acts of torture, robbery, etc. right here in our little neighborhood. Except it's not really so little. The 5th district is the largest police district in the City of New Orleans, so Captain Bernardine W. Kelly of the 5th District has told me, at their Nonpac meetings. It stretches from Elysian Fields and Gentilly Road, all the way to Jackson Barracks, from the Mississippi River up through City Park. So it came as some surprise to me that there was little or no word of this ANYWHERE. Ensuing calls to the 5th District got the typical combative response I've come to accept from them. Had I been calling in any information on these horrible crimes, I would certainly have been put off by it. In fact, I have been robbed at gun point here, myself, while tending bar at the old Smitty's (now 'Maries') at the corner of Burgundy & St Roch. The first thing the arriving officer did was accuse me of pulling it off, myself. The fact that there were five other witnesses who all saw the short African American man with a large gun & a stocking mask stick said gun in my face meant nothing. I could have 'arranged' that. The fact that I hid, even at gun point, about $500 in cash, which I handed to the owner upon his arrival, also meant nothing. I was 'covering my tracks' it seemed. I thought I was keeping Bucky from a total loss, even at the risk of my life. Apparently not. This then, was my first lesson in dealing with the 5th District. A few years later, while checking on a friend's house while they were away, I discovered that it had been broken in to. I called the police. Several hours later, a patrol car showed up & the policeman told me we were waiting for 'The Crime Lab'. Another two hours and he left. Two more hours and a detective showed up, and fell in to a rage that anything had been touched. I explained that as soon as I realized what was going on, I stopped in my tracks, never leaving the first room. He asked me why he should believe I hadn't done it myself. Except he was screaming at me when he asked it. So, it was with no small apprehension that I tried, once again, to find out what the hell was going on by calling in to the Abbot & Costello routine that is the 5th District's standard operating procedure. I never heard from the 5th District again. I sent the exact letter you see posted below (Part 1) to everybody I could think of, hoping to shake something loose, and find out how bad it really was out there. I have, to date, received only one answer. Nothing from Kristen Palmer, our City Council person, or the Mayors office. Not a peep from the Times-picayune, or the 5th District. Nothing from ANY City of New Orleans entity of any kind. Nothing. The secretary of the Faubourg Marigny Association sent me a link to NOLAReady , a crime alert email service that bears the City of New Orleans trade mark, but yet was never referred to me by anyone at City Hall or any NOPD contacts. Thanks, Gretchen. Still, nothing appeared in the news at that time. Nothing. Word on the street spread quickly, however. It was Taylor, a well known local artist, recently returned from New York, who was grabbed, along with his girl friend, outside their home. Forced back into the house, they were robbed, and her raped, as he was made to watch. Days later, a woman was kidnapped at the intersection of Marigny & St Claude, driven around and forced to get money from ATM's. Her story is told in her own words in the comment section of my previous post. Then there was one intruder who entered the unlocked back door of a house, during a party, and robbed everyone inside. His entry through a fenced yard & back door would suggest he was watching the house. At this time, there was still no news reports of any of this. The NOLA Crime report listed Taylor's experience as 'rape', not aggravated rape, or home invasion or hostages or kidnapping, even though it was all of the above. The woman abducted at St Claude & Marigny showed (at that time, anyway) as a 'robbery'. Why not kidnapping & extortion? They certainly came into play.... Now, I have to wonder, would the news have carried these stories had the crimes been rightly cataloged? Would the publication of those stories lead to a quicker arrest? Certainly, the citizens here were ready to cooperate. There was even an impromptu meeting at Siberia, on St Claude, where sketches of one of the perpetrators were handed out. They posted one on Face Book for me to repost, simply for the asking. Why is it that the 5th District did none of these things? Had this information been widely publicized, would Jonathon Hall even have been murdered? No one can say, especially me. But I have to wonder, if there had been accurate stories of these crimes out there for all to see, maybe he wouldn't have been so willing to open his door, or leave himself unprotected. As recently as today, I have pointed to the story of the arrests associated with these crimes and Jonathon's murder, and been met with total surprise that any of this was even going on. Many people living right here on my block are still completely clueless as to this happening at all. And how could one blame them? The stories are buried in the news and the reports from the 5th District downplay every event I've heard about. Everyone in town knows the details of Magnolia Shorty's shooting and which famous rappers attended her funeral. This is in no way meant to suggest that her murder is anything less than a tragedy. It certainly is, and one of the highest order. But so is Jonathon's senseless murder over two used computers. Much has been made of the deaths of 8 kids who attended his second line, only to perish themselves in a warehouse fire. It is, as the Mayor has called it a 'terrible tragedy'. Believe me, I knew a couple of those kids, and my sorrow is deep and ongoing. Yet what would one call the murder of a 27 year old man, at the hands of kidnapping rapists & robbers, when nobody told the locals about this crime spree? First, let me agree that the press has no obligation to report anything they don't feel like reporting. Just ask Fox News. And, of course, City Hall is not responsible for what the news reports or does not report. As for the 5th District, I'm sure there will be a litany of reasons why this had to be kept secret. They answered most questions I heard at the Nonpac meetings by saying they didn't want 'criminals' to know what they were up to. I guess they think they're the KGB of the 9th ward. Of course, reports in the comment section of the previous post tell tales of cops sitting in cars, on the internet, while murders take place a half a block away. I guess I'd want to keep that secret, too. Perhaps they are more Keystone Cop than KGB, in some instances, but then again, this district is huge and riddled with violent crime problems. All the same, why not TELL US WE ARE IN DANGER? As my friend and fellow pundit, "Scott" put it: "I think it's all "Marginalized", because we aren't rich enough, white enough, and because we're largely thought of as hippies, freaks, queers or thugs on this side of town. All of the good press in every major news outlet in America doesn't sway Perdido street. They can't see over the glare of Bourbon Street." And that smacks of more Truth to me than any of these other reasons. To me, that is. In fact, I'd list a good many of those 'other reasons' in the column called 'Excuses'. I'm just glad they finally caught the guy, and didn't accuse me again. I'm holding my breath, hoping they don't drop this in to Children's Court, allowing this monster to perfect his methods for five years before setting him loose on us again. Of course, as we all know, this wasn't the first, and won't be the last violent crime spree in our neighborhood. We live in New Orleans. And we live in That Part of Town. Prospect 1 rolled through a couple of years ago, bringing promises of glory & a celebration of art. In the end, it was more about celebrating Dan Cameron's friends, who are 'Contemporary Artists' from NYC, but we got heard. Right here in the Marigny/Bywater/St Roch. Then there's the St Claude Art District, of which I am a proud member, which predates Prospect 1 by many years. The Andy Warhol Society has come to see our collective work. We've had write ups as far away as London & Australia. And of course, the New Orleans Fringe Festival, which attracts crowds to our own theater district, art scene, local restaurants & music clubs. That's right; music clubs. Because you don't have to wade the vomit on Bourbon Street, or shove your way through the hipsters now plaguing Frenchman Street, clacking along in high heels, carrying tiny dogs in purses and trying to talk the doorman down a dollar on the cover charge for the Rolex wearing 'fans'. St Claude Avenue has both music & theater, almost nightly and almost all of it great. We also have home invasion, murder, rape, torture & kidnapping to round out the regular armed robbery & shootings. What we don't have is any responsible news organization willing to speak out. And the 5th District is keeping mum on all of this. Chief Ronal Serpas & District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, however, "deem New Years Eve a resounding success." I wonder if Jonathon Hall's wife feels that way. Or Taylor's girlfriend. Because it doesn't matter if the crime stats are down, simply because nobody's talking. The same people are dead, or brutalized. Lives are destroyed, or simply ended, violently. And some of it may have been preventable. I can't honestly say what went wrong here. That would involve getting some answers, and none are forth coming. "Come to the Nonpac meetings," they cry. I've been. It was a fairly useless exercise in listing what they want us to hear. "Report crimes to keep the stats accurate." I have. And either been accused of committing it, because I was, well, breathing and within reach, or have seen a horror like home invasion, torture & rape reduced to a simple 'rape' on the crime map. That's right; a woman repeatedly raped while her boyfriend is forced to watch at gunpoint, after being kidnapped and held hostage in their own house, is listed as 'simple rape'. "Reach Out to the New City Hall." I did that, too. So far, no one has answered. "Call your City Council Person'. I sent the previous posted letter directly to Kristen Palmer's office. So far, no one has answered. There is one, very clear message in all of this; No matter what they tell you, no matter what promises they make, you are on your own. Is that the way to 'lead a city in recovery", to "create total transparency in our police department"? I really couldn't say. I keep asking. So far, no one has answered. Not a single fucking one. ___________________ NOTE: Please contact the New Orleans District Attorney's Office, to ensure that Cedric Berryhill and Darren Adams are charged as Adults for this horrifying series of crimes: Orleans Parish District Attorney Main Office (504) 822-2414 Juvenile Office (504) 566-1711 And you can submit a form email here: Thnx; LD


Lord David said...

I sent this to the Mayor's Office as soon as I posted it.

Please, feel free to email his office & staff, & ask what they think about this, or if the have any plans regarding it, at:

I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

simple truth is half way through this i had to stop, i was seething with anger, anger that i have carried with me for years now, it's about being unfairly treated by police, the vary same people who are there to protect us, i fear. this cop was sleeping in his car while a young man held a gun to my head, and for what seemed like an eternity, and as you know i have a mouth on me, the whole way i was giving this kid shit, he was certainly wanting money, but i never put it together on why he still held me captive walking me around the bywater, that's until he found a dark place, where he then raped me, in front of my then boyfriend, and the whole reason why he had gotten this from me, was the fun then turned to my guys' head! i still carry anger, at first it was fear, i lost my job to a shitty boss who cared not of what had happen to me, and become agrophbic, i even recall the evening it had happend, i called the one officer i knew well and that knew my family, he cared little, for he had moved up in rank and felt that someone else should handle it, it took me a month to gather the courage to go to the police, i walked into the police quarters located in the quarter, where i spoke asking for help with this, the woman at the desk had me repeat myself loudly, and i was embarressed as if i had done something, and then asked why i had not come in earlier, like i was at fault admitting to a crime, then the detective came out, DETECTIVE MARY, she treated me like shit, she didnt believe me, she could care less, a waste of time, and left me to sit after i cried and told her all information i could, even with my skirt that i was wearing that night with the rapist semen on it, she still did not care, she left me for an hour to go CONFER with her leuitenant on what the next step would be! i then left, for this story was told in front of everyone in the lobby, she didnt even bring me into a private room, there sat another police officer at this table, eating his fucking lunch! they never did anything, never cared, and i was only one victim to many that had followed and came before me. a serial rapist. they had asked me why i had not come in before?
i stated i didnt want to be dissapointed, and they surely with out a doubt proved me that and beyond it! i'm still angry till this very day, to the cop sleeping in his fucking car, to the fucking detective.
i finished doing my laundry that afternoon at scirors, and then to mimi's for one drink and then walking home, with then boyfriend, with clothes and skateboard in hand, the fucker caught me as i caught on to him following us the block after the tracks on royal, this was at 7pm! he then had me for over an hour of walking, and when he was finished cleaned me up with a white bar rag with orange stripe down the middle asking if god would ever forgive him, i told him NO, and that'll he'll burn in hell.
i'm very ill of this city and feel it has taken everything from me, for everything i have given, i have not gotten back not even half, most our friends feeling the pain of the violence and this shit police system, and there fucking ethics, the racism. it has changed me, and these days i feel for the worst, and i'm still very angry!
i'd go out years after this had happen looking for the punk who hurt me, with weapons, waiting for him to come up on me, just so i can have my justice that is owed, cause even with the cops, i feel i had not really anyone that was there for me in this tragidy, not even the people who we pay to do there jobs, the NOPD

Lord David said...

My heart is breaking for you.
No lie.

How can humans treat each other this way, and more to the point, HOW CAN THOSE WE PAY TO PROTECT US TREAT US SO BADLY?

Sister, please, remember, you are not alone. I wouldn't be writing this stuff if it weren't eating a hole in me, too, every second of every day.

Unfortunately, the only recourse I have is to drag it all out into the light, and hope that enough of us fight back that it will make a bigger difference than it has.

I, for one, am sick as hell of waiting to see which friends I bury next, while some bully with a badge gives me shit for living.

Stay strong, darlin.
It's not over yet.

nichole said...

aint it the truth love, and you bet it aint fucking over! at least not with me, i just gotta watch out on how i get angry and direct it in a positive way, and not let it consume me in the wrong way.
i only tell my story to show what has happened, i never thought it would to me, as cliche it sounds, but it did, and it pained me more to think these fucks wouldnt help, that they couldve put a stop to the ass hole before he hurt others, such a terrible cycle. the more stories i had gotten that summer had me feel blessed for he had gotten worse with the women! it's heart breaking, and it couldve ended but it did not! and as for more women and the men with em, my heart goes out too, it's a horrific ordeal that noone should ever be put through, i've found myself speaking to these girls who've been raped, for some reason, my now man directs them towards me, as if i could help, i dont know how i could, but i know now i am alot stronger than before, and there isnt much to say to anyone that this has happen to, except to share the knowledge and to tell them your there! to not shut down, to fight and get angry, and get pist, and be loved!