Sunday, June 24, 2012

Requiem for Joanne

Now that you have slid into that last dream
before leaving this world of ours behind,
the secrets that you held are at last revealed.
Some will wonder why you kept so much
to yourself, alone, or worry that they may
have changed the outcome for you.

I marvel at the bravery of choosing
to suffer alone, defending those you loved
from the pain of watching you go
with a courage even brighter than the one
that shone from you every time we met.

I'm told you asked for me near the end
of your waking, as you may have recalled
the many times I told you that all of this
is only a dream we dream we are dreaming.
I hear your good-bye, dear friend, and feel
the love you leave here for those who shared
your path.
I bid you go, now, and slip into that sea of love
where there are no secrets, only truth and peace.
As we all must, in time, I will join you there,
and ask that you greet me, setting free, too, 
the secrets that I carry, to be left behind in
this dreaming world, as I slip in to that same
sea of love, where secrets no longer matter

and everything is at last, revealed.

Bon voyage, my dear, dear friend.
Rest well, and know that my tears fall
only for those you have left behind.
You have gone on to a state of grace
even greater than the one you carried
with you while you were here with us.

For J.E.; June 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Remi Braden, Public Relations, Responds

Below is a response to one of many emails I sent out, this one from Remi Braden, Public Relations Director, NOPD;


    Thank you for your concern in this matter, and for calling it to my office's  attention.  It's certainly something that needs to be addressed.  I asked one of  my officers to pull the case for me, so I could review it and find out what  happened.

       First, I need to make it clear that my office doesn't determine which  crimes are put on crime maps or which incidents receive press releases.  I'm a  civilian, and the officers who work in this office are not investigators.  We  work at Police Headquarters.  Officers in the districts and homicide detectives  email us or call us about cases that need to be relayed to the media and the  public, and then we get that information out.  This office is also not in charge  of the crime maps.  Again- officers in the districts get the info about cases to  our tech people, who update these maps on a daily basis.

       When reading through this report, I saw that near the bottom, it reads:   "if any subjects (attackers) are located, they should be charged with violation  of Louisiana revised statue 14:64.4, relative to Second Degree Robbery instead  of 14:65- relative to Simple Robbery."  My officers explained to me that "Second  Degree Robbery" refers to a robbery in which the victim was robbed and  physically harmed.

        So apparently, the supervisor who read this initial report disagreed with  the officer's classification, and upgraded it.  I'll ask the tech people to  upgrade its classification on the Crime Map.  I'm guessing they made an error  so - thank you for pointing it out to us.

       You say you've been subscribing to Nolaready for more than a year (thank  you for that), so I'm sure you're aware that the department reports every  murder, rape, armed robbery...even purse snatching, through Nolaready.

   Unfortunately- occasionally- (as in this case) we'll get something wrong.  I  apologize for that, and assure you that we're trying to get better.

       Again- thank you for taking the time to write us about this.  I'm certain  the officer who wrote the initial report will be asked why he classified this  crime as he did.
   Remi Braden  Director, Public Affairs
  New Orleans Police Department
  715 S. Broad St. New Orleans, La.  70119
  (O)- (504) 658-5858  (C)-  (504) 220-4092      

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Commander Goodly Responds; As Do I


Lord David,

All reported crimes to the New Orleans Police Department are available to all citizens in real time using the NOPD website at, then clicking  the 'Crime Maps' icon.   Utilizing the crime mapping software, any user will be able to conduct an up to date search of crimes occurring in their neighborhood.  The user can also set up to get email alerts for crimes that are reported as specified in a particular area of interest/concern.  This can be very helpful for users needing to know exactly what's happening in a neighborhood.

There is no reason for law enforcement to intentionally under publicize or edit crimes that are being reported to have occurred.  It is known to effectively combat criminal activity; the crimes must be reported, citizens must be made aware so they can become alert and assist, and police resources directed to combat the activity for a successful resolution.

The robbery which you have referenced in your email was documented on the night the incident occurred under NOPD item # F-16926-12 and a follow-up investigation immediately began in an attempt to identify the suspects responsible.  Fifth District Detective Robert Hurst is in charge of this investigation and can be reached at (504) 658-6050.  All reported crimes are taken very seriously and this incident is no exception. 

As you may already be aware, the Fifth District's monthly NONPACC meeting is every second Wednesday of the month at the Fifth District station.  I know you mentioned not always being available to attend this meeting, however we also conduct a weekly district Comstat meeting  which is held every Wednesday at 11am at the Fifth District station.  Crime trends and deployment strategies within the district are discussed openly at these meetings.  Both meetings are open to the public and all citizens are encouraged to attend.

Lastly, my condolences to the friends and families of slain victims you have referenced.  Hopefully, justice will prevail for the individuals responsible for these heinous acts of violence. 

Please know that every member of the New Orleans Police Department stand with you and every citizen to ensure that this city is a great place to live and work.

Thank You

Commander Christopher Goodly
Fifth Police District
New Orleans Police Department
4015 Burgundy Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70117
Office: 504-658-6050


The Crime map site can be fond here.
One must click the disclaimer to play through.
My response follows.


Commander Goodly; 

Thanks for your informative response. I checked on the crime map page again, as I am familiar with this, and looked there before. Perhaps this is why I missed it. It's listed as a "Simple Robbery". 

Case Number: F1692612 
Date: 6/11/2012 10:04 PM 
Location: 1000 BLOCK OF CONGRESS ST 
Description: SIMPLE ROBBERY 

 I'm still very confused as to how & why a similar attack of much less ferocity was plastered all over the news, and came across my screen as an NOPD Email blast, (I've subscribed for over a year, now) unless it's because it was in the French Quarter.
 There was also, in that same time period, the news and ensuing email report of a body found on the railroad tracks at N. Rampart St. While identifying the victim is important, it's not quite the same as a group of five individuals violently attacking citizens.

  Finally, WHY is this classified as 'Simple Robbery'? Tommy wasn't really robbed, as he didn't have any money. In fact, the first blow was struck before he could hand over his wallet. This was, in fact, a vicious and potentially life threatening assault. 
It might even have been a Hate Crime.

 But none of that is listed on the Crime Map mentioned, nor anywhere in the news or NOPD email blasts. In fact, even the 'Simple Robbery' did not make the grade in either of those releases. I remain deeply concerned that someone could suffer a beating that broke their jaw, broke their arm & left them unconscious & bleeding in the street, with a possible skull fracture, mind you, and it is being classified as a 'Simple Robbery'. 
 To me, this sounds like a serious downgrading of a crime. And that is saddening beyond measure, as it undermines any confidence one might have in local law enforcement. 
  Certainly you're aware that the woman robbed in the French Quarter suffered from the same pattern, albeit by one person (allegedly). Were the entire set of facts known, it might assist in leading to the capture & arrest of those perpetrating these crimes.

 I look forward to hearing more about this case. I truly hope this can be dealt with before someone is openly beaten to death in one of these 'Simple Robberies'.
  I place great faith in the NOPD of all districts. Otherwise, where would any of us be? At the same time, I look forward to a Community Awareness on their part that is concerned with personal safety, rather than statistical crime reporting.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Commander Goodley at the 5th Distict, and Chief Ronal Serpas

This is the email I sent to both Commander Goodley of the 5th District, and to Chief Ronal Serpas, today, June 12th, at about 3:15 pm.

Commander Goodley can be reached at:
Ronal Serpas can be reached at:

This was also CC'd to contacts at City Hall, including Jacqui Clarkson & Kristin Palmer, and contacts in the local press & media.
Feel free to add your voice and your concerns to the list.
Email them, today.
Be polite, but be firm.
The life you save may be your own.

To Commander Christopher D. Goodley, 5th District, 
NOPD and to Chief Superintendent Ronal Serpas; 

Sirs; I am writing regarding an incident that occurred last night (Monday, June 11th) at about 11:00 - 11:30 pm. A young man, I know only by name, as Tommy, was walking up Congress Street, towards St Claude, to attend a party directly across St Claude. I will mention here that Tommy is about 28, white, new to town, just having moved to the Bywater from Biloxi, and walks with a cane.

This is what happened next, as far as I have been able to discern so far;
Five young black men stopped him @ Congress & St Claude, 
and demanded his wallet. As he handed it to them, one of
them smashed the back of his head with a bottle & he lost
consciousness. By the time he finally crawled to my friends
houses, Denise & Jessica's, about a block away, he had a broken
jaw, broken teeth, an apparent fracture to the back of the skull,
a broken arm and various lacerations, including a knee injury
that prevented him from walking. He was taken away by ambulance &
a police cruiser was there. 
The officers claimed to be writing a report. 

Word at the party is that there have been at least two other occasions of this, recently, although not as vicious. What I find almost equally alarming is that NO MENTION
IS BEING MADE OF THIS in the New Orleans over night crime report, from 6am Monday until 6am Tuesday. There are listings of assault by cutting, armed robbery, and carjacking, but not this. 
You can go to that link and see for yourself, here

 I find it very disturbing that a young man, beaten almost to death in the course of a robbery, doesn't qualify as a crime worthy of note by the 5th District NOPD, or the New Orleans Police Department in general.
   Far from 'assisting the community', which we hear so much about, this kind of edited information will simply allow more citizens to be in harms way, clueless as to the known violent possibilities that the NOPD knows full well could await them. Is this a matter of keeping statistics in line, or merely so acceptable that we don't deserve to know about it? 
Certainly, since other crimes that happened AFTERWORDS, are reported in the attached column, there must have been news of this available. 

  In October of 2006, I personally stood before Troy Carter & NOPD officials at a community meeting on Frenchman St., and reported door to door crime in the Marigny, asking, no, begging for attention before someone was killed in these attempts. 
Months later, my neighbor, Helen Hill was shot in the face & killed, merely for answering her door. Her husband was shot several times in the back, protecting their 2 year old son from that same crazed shooter. I will NEVER forget waking up to those shots. 
For what it's worth, that shooter has never been caught. 

  Years later, many of us petitioned the 5th District to take action when a couple of neighborhood youths began a series of violent attacks, including throwing bricks at passersby, and knocking over bicyclists as they rode past. No reports were offered to the Crime Report then, either. 
Two weeks later, my friend, Wendy Byrne, was shot & killed by some of the same youths. 

 Last December, many of us in the Marigny/Bywater listened in horror as we heard stories of a young man who kidnapped, raped and tortured his robbery victims. Two of these victims, Taylor, and his girlfriend at the time, were also friends and colleagues. 
Then, too, no listing was made in the New Orleans Crime Report, and so, our stories were met with disbelief. Surely there would some kind of report, people said. 

That time, too, I personally called the 5th District to ask  about this crime. 
There is no easy way to put this; 
They laughed at me. 
They joked about it. 
They asked me "Do you THINK you safe?" followed by more laughter. 
Needless to say, nothing was done, until over a week later, when three people were dead. Again, one of them was an acquaintance, John Flea. 

This is how Cedrick Berryhill started. Beatings and kidnapping & rape & robbery. 
So, here we are again. 
How long until one of this crowd gets a gun? 
Or all of them do? 
Why have we not heard about these other incidents? 
Will this one be reported? 
I am hereby making my concerns known, and insist that citizens be warned. 
In Berryhill's case, there was no press or serious investigation until three people had been killed. Please, I implore you, don't let that happen again. 
It could be you, your family member, or someone you love who takes that bullet. 

Please report this incident, and those that follow, openly, in the New Orleans Crime Report and Email blasts. We don't all have time to go to Non-Pac meetings and ask what's been happening. Nor should we have to. I would think that a police department capable of reporting the entire crime history of murder victims could get out the news that there are gangs of dangerous thugs, beating people almost to death, on the New Improved St Claude Avenue. 
I certainly hope so. 

Commander Goodley; 
Sir, you are new to the 5th District, and I hold high hopes that things will be different under your tenure. Please, make this announcement before I have to attend the funeral of another friend. All of the previous deaths were predictable. I know, because I predicted them, myself, even to the authorities. 
They may have been preventable, as well. 
I'm hoping that you can prove that true, by preventing what can only be a bad outcome from this latest string of violence. 

Very best regards; 
Lord David 
New Orleans  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Art, The Neighborhood & Gentrification

This is a combination of two spontaneous posts I made on Facebook today. Since they seem to be making the rounds, I thought I might as well post them here, too.
Shopping with convenience, ya hurd?

I am frequently asked why I spend so much time ranting against inevitable gentrification, in favor a of relatively small slice of society, The Artists Community.
I could say it is because I place a high value on the Freedom of Expression, and I am, as such, a Patriot, or that I am consistently blinded by the dazzling array of talent that surrounds me, but those would be only the tip of the iceberg. In searching myself for reasons, I find them far too many to list here. Instead, I find that this search raises another question; Why are you not?
I've lived in the Marigny/Bywater for 18 years. I'm still kind of the 'new guy' to some of those who live here.
18 years ago, this neighborhood was like Deadwood. It was dangerous as all hell, with few working street lights, bad power connections, leaking roofs & slumlords, never mind the Clouet Street Crips, selling guns & crack in broad daylight.
Still, many local artists, poor, but working in the French Quarter service industry, moved here, largely because we couldn't afford to live anywhere else, or to take cabs, so we found places within bicycle distance of work, and held on.

Out of this rose a burgeoning art community. It wasn't easy & it wasn't cheap. Many of my friends (over a dozen) have been killed in the process, paying for their pioneer spirit with their lives. My friend & neighbor, Helen Hill, was shot in the face for answering her door, and her husband took five bullets in the back, protecting their 2 year old son from a crazed shooter that has never been caught. I will never, ever, forget waking up to those gunshots.
    Post K, these same poor and struggling artists, poets, musicians and their creed, are the people who came back. We rebuilt a community, and the houses in it, with our own money, sweat & sheer perseverance. We built an art community, complete with home galleries, that has attracted attention globally. The City of New Orleans refused us help, funding, street lights, police presence or any manner of assistance.

   Now that we have made this community safer & heralded as The New Bohemia, an up & coming destination location in the United States, City Hall has arrived with it's permit laws & trucks full of inspectors, ticketing bicyclists, shutting down legal galleries, raiding thrift & garage sales as "Illegal Businesses", beating, tasing & macing paraders, and creating new laws to make it nearly impossible to live here.
Corporate interests are buying up homes at ridiculous prices, and evicting tenants to move their own out of state cronies in. The City of New Orleans makes it extremely difficult for small local businesses to open and/or operate, choosing instead to concentrate on Tourism & the NFL dollars that make their eyes light up. There was even a recent attempt to create a 'Hospitality Zone' where a board of appointed (unelected with no term limits) business (read tourism businesses) people could tax these specific areas, and apply the money to their own advertising campaigns.
    In the meantime, I'm told I need a $400 permit to draw in my living room, and possibly a zoning ordinance to DRAW IN MY LIVING ROOM.
    In short, we are under attack. But as it plays out in the press, it becomes "well, wouldn't a nice corporate coffee shop be swell."

Except that people who actually live in this neighborhood have spent tens of thousands of dollars rebuilding & getting permits & fighting City Hall to open amazing coffee shops, already.
   But when the NFL or Starbucks, or whoever else has the Big Cash, flashes some money at City Hall, they roll over like an old hooker and sell out their constituents like Benedict Arnold.

    So understand when I see someone saying things that appear as though they think we are just too bored or lazy or apathetic to build communities and stand up against crime, I go ballistic.

    The biggest anti-violence organization in the city, Silence is Violence, formed in the wake of Helen's murder, is in the Marigny, where it was conceived & created. I know crime, & especially murder statistics, look bad. But that's because we have half bright clerk for a Police Chief, and a marketing director for Mayor.

   Please understand that these murder figures bother me as much as they do you. But there's a difference. To me, these are not numbers, or even fellow New Orleanians.
They are my friends, and they are dead.
  They are not statistics, but Keith who formed Noise fest, Wendye, who tended bar for us all, Helen, who walked her son & pet pig across the street and made wonderful cartoon films. I won't go on. I can't. I hate to admit it, but I'm tearing up thinking about so many dear, dear friends, shot down, senselessly, in their prime.
But they were doing something bigger than any of us. They were building a future.
   Now that future is for sale to any asshole with a platinum card & a BMW. And they will never know the wonderful people who gave everything to make that happen, in fact, those of us who are left are seen as, and treated like, a pariah, a nuisance, bad rubbish to be gotten rid of.
   They think, as (someone) said that we "could use a bit of gentrification."

I'm hoping you see things a little differently now.
I really am.
As for me, gentrification?
Not on your life.
Or any of the ones that were already lost.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Its Not Always What You Think It Is.

I got the New Orleans Art Survey via Email.
It seemed like a choice of cookie cutter crap.
Everything was laid out in neat order:

'Dance or Music or Theater or...'

 What about Alien Music Dance Puppet Shows?
The straight world just don't get it.
All they care about are tourists & dollars.
ART is not spelled NFL.
Open yer mind.