Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dead Young Black Men

Last week every news outlet in town devoted significant coverage of a police shooting of a Lakeview Doctors dog. There was a lot of video of the dead dog.

The police were responding to a false burglar alarm.

I may be in the insensitive minority but I wonder about the news media devoting so much time to the killing of a black dog owned by white doctor when so many young black men are killed in our streets that no one bothers to keep track of the number any more.

According to the AP
There were 54 murders in the first quarter of this year, compared to 59 last year, Riley said. Of those, 60 percent have been solved and 30 people arrested. The national average for clearing homicide cases is 55 percent, Riley said. Of the remaining open 2008 cases, nearly 90 percent have possible suspects and are close to being solved, he said.
The chief cites the reduction from 59 to 55 as progress, doesn't seem like it to me. The Time Picayune says there were only 42 murders in the first quarter. I wonder where the difference comes from. It's not an insignificant discrepancy. Thanks to M. D Filter for pointing that out to me.

We also have the trial of the accused killer of Dinerral Shavers. David Bonds was exonerated by a jury of his peers.

That trial was, it seems to me, a perfect illustration of everything wrong with New Orleans criminal justice.

A witness recanted under apparent pressure from her family and possible intimidation from the accused.

The police apparently failed to find witnesses necessary for the prosecution.

The public defender seems to have been given latitude to suggest all sort of things without any proffer of proof.

Reports say the jury voted 11-1 to convict.

Every component of the criminal justice seems to have failed.

A seriously and deeply divide citizenry with no confidence in a police department with a history of incompetent leadership, brutality and corruption.

A prosecutors office historically more concerned with its own reputation than protecting the community it serves.

An elected judiciary that fails to impose discipline on an out of control system.

Guy McEwan a witness in the trial was murdered not much later. Many have called it revenge, I'm not so sure. McEwan had drug charges pending so his killing might have been over something else.

It seems a murdered black dog is more likely to get justice than a murdered young black man.


Pistolette said...

Hehe. I'm sure my opinion is even less popular. The black men have (as ALL people have) a choice as to how to live their lives. That dog did not. The majority of people that die by gunshot in Nola are usually not sitting behind their home fence, minding their own business, now are they?

Plus, from a news business perspective, if a black man did NOT get shot in Nola eight times then THAT would be news. News ratings thrive on the unique, and a helpless post-surgery DOG getting shot eight times by the police is a story whether we like it or not. It's perfect because it plays on FEAR - something the newsmedia loves. Most people who live in Nola have adjusted to our fear of getting shot. We accept it as a possibility and therefore don't fear it that much so the news stories about murders just blur together. But our PETS?! We thought they were safe! Oh no, new FEAR! Quick, roll tape of crying doctor!

Michael Homan said...

You bring up a good point. I can't imagine what it would be like to have one of my children gunned down. I do feel terrible for the violence in the city which is killing so many people, especially African Americans. But, I do also feel bad for the dog and its owner. I even feel bad for the other dog who lost his/her buddy. But, I even feel bad for the cop who shot the dog, and certainly I feel bad for the youths pulling the trigger. How do you change a culture of violence?

bayoustjohndavid said...

Like I said in the comments at Michael Homan's, you're talking apples and oranges. I suppose it's somewhat pertinent when it comes to media coverage; with four local news stations, you'd think one would try not to mirror the other three -- maybe scrap the "fish game report" or obligatory nightly local color story in favor of more in depth crime reporting. I'd watch that channel, at least if it weren't FOX8 or WDSU.

But this is disturbing for a lot of reasons. Maybe I'm crazy to bring up Nicola Cotton, but I think it's relevant to ask why he used his gun instead of pepper spray. If it's because his gun was already drawn, why are officers are still going into situations that are dangerous enough to enter with guns drawn without waiting for backup? If the Central City shooting has them so worried about being shot with their own guns, that they've taken to entering situations with their guns drawn, that's really worrisome. It seems to me that there was either no department-wide reaction to the Nicola Cotton shooting, i.e. wait for backup when possible, or, some officers have had a personal reaction, i.e. drawing their guns more readily. I'm totally aware that the above may well sound like the uninformed musings of an ignorant layman.

However, if the dog really was crippled and backing away, I have trouble understanding your reaction. That's down right scary; it's entirely appropriate to wonder about the police officer who did the shooting and whether sadism or nerves were involved. If it was nerves, that could have been a person. I'd hate to think it was sadism. Since the NOPD has had trouble meeting recruitment goals for years, it's entirely appropriate to wonder about its screening process.