Tag Archives: police

Members of the NOPD search the Lakeview neighborhood for a group of suspected car burglars in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. STAFF PHOTO BY MAX BECHERER

Obvious Disparate Neighborhood Policing Strategies

New Orleans       The headline may have said that Iran sent twenty missiles at two Iraqi bases where US troops and materials were stationed, but the picture in my local paper was equally disturbing.  It showed New Orleans police officers armed to the gills with machine guns, armored vests, and helmets were seen with police dogs swarming around a pink house under a bold headline claiming, “LAKEVIEW LOCKDOWN.”

Please understand that the Lakeview neighborhood is not your typical New Orleans neighborhood in a city that is two-thirds African-American.  It is not the gated and stately uptown of old money, but the largely white, solidly upper-middle class of families and professionals, safely ensconced near Lake Ponchartrain.  Flooded after the levee on the 17th street canal failed during Hurricane Katrina, Lakeview had been the neighborhood that led the recovery because its families had the financial resources, while other areas lagged behind while forced to wait for federal funds and insurance payments, often deliberately slow.

What in the world was happening?  Was Lakeview under assault? Had the Iranians come after Lakeview?  Were serial killers loose on the streets?

No, there was an attempted car break-in.  Really, a car break-in?

No, not really it turns out there were some teens testing car doors to see if they were unlocked close to 9 am in the morning.  A New Orleans plainclothes detective saw a suspicious car they were riding and “opened fire,” claiming the car had backed up towards him.  Got this?  A cop without a uniform opened fire on a suspicious car over some aspiring car burglars. The teens ran for it, and “a radio call saying an officer was in danger sent dozens of police cars speeding into Lakeview, lights flashing, to block off streets and begin a search that went on for hours.”  Despite the breathless coverage of the incident, the reporter couldn’t help allowing the sense of overkill to seep into his reporting that “The massive response to a car burglary, a crime that happens more than a dozen times a day across the city, closed several neighborhood blocks, put four schools on lockdown, left residents confined to their homes and eventually resulted in the arrest of a second suspect…”  Buried in the article was the fact that no weapons were ever found on the suspects nor was there any report of them having fired weapons.

In the Ninth Ward, equally iconic after Hurricane Katrina because of the storm damage and the recovery which is still a long way from being complete, every day the Nextdoor app neighborhood watchers and commenters are reporting car lock jiggles, break-ins, and, let’s be frank, actual car thefts.  Police wouldn’t get out of their cars or bother to stifle a yawn if they got a call reporting teens on the street, much less scramble the troops, and fire away in any of these neighborhoods.  Of course, a big reason is that many would not bother to call, since we also know that the habit of the New Orleans police firing first and investigating later would more likely lead to a body count in the majority black areas of the city.

Rarely are the racially disparate police strategies for neighborhood policing so starkly obvious.  I wish we could believe that there are lessons we are learning from this.

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Please enjoy Think of Me by Neil Young.

Thanks to KABF.

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Good Points Gathered from Random Sources

New Orleans    I find that people are working hard to figure it all out these days. In the way that squirrels gather acorns for the winter, I find myself nodding with interest and often approval at random comments that seem worth picking up as excellent points worth remembering and advice worth taking.

Walking Lucha this morning I noticed a sign in the window of an apartment on the block nearby that fits this description.  It simply said, “Where are the cages for white immigrants?”  Bon point, as my friends in France say.  It is a mistake to assume that all of the undocumented immigrants in the country who have overstayed or are seeking asylum are brown or black, but where do you hear that story?

I have trouble focusing on the full score of candidates in the Democratic listings for president at this point.  No one has voted.  We surely have all learned by now that the so-called “money” primary cannot elect a candidate, as the close scare Clinton had from Sanders in recent memory.  We must know from Trump’s success that the “media” primary of pundits and political talking heads can’t do so either.  Still we are being herded into handicapping winners and losers, those ahead and behind in these early days.  What do we make of shooting stars like Mayor Pete, and what are his real positions, anyway?  Or, the falling star of Beto O’Rourke.  I found a point made by Natalia Salgado, the political director of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, insightful when she was quoted int the Times saying, “Charisma will get you so far, it’s important obviously, that’s the sort of thing that can get you to float above the rest, but what is the thing that brings it home? Ultimately a movement cannot be built on something as fragile as another human being.”  Important question?  Valuable insight!

And, from Daniel Victor, a reporter for the New York Times, we learn something about tactics from the current Hong Kong protestors.  He was asked, “How did the marchers use tech?”  His answer was a door opening to a better understanding of the tactics of the future as he described the Hong Kong demonstrators, saying,

“The demonstrations thus far have been mostly leaderless – there’s no single person or organization deciding what comes next.  Instead, they’re directly voting on what actions to take by participating in online discussion forums….  An individual will post with a suggested course of action, like protesting outside a specific building or at a specific time.  Other participants will upvote or downvote the post, and when a post gets enough attention, they solidify those plans,

Another key difference is in how they have a far more hands-off approach to social media than any comparable effort in the United States would.  Whereas a lot of demonstrations in the United States would be grist for selfies and Instagram-ready signs, protestors here are very concerned the government could identify their faces in photos and later charge them with crimes.  Many hide behind surgical masks and would never post evidence of themselves taking part.  They discourage people, even news photographers, from taking photos where faces are identifiable.  It’s not built for gaining likes, and they trust exposure will come through the larger messaging.”

This is helpful as we read about drones and airplane surveillance by police in Baltimore and face-recognition software being used by security forces domestically and internationally.  It is hard to imagine how organic, and I dare say, democratic, action planning is in Hong Kong if Victor is correct in his observations.  In Hong Kong they are absolutely right to let their actions speak for the movement, not social media, so they may understand this better than others.

Is this the future?  I don’t know, but in this work – and world – we learn something every day.  We better pay attention in class, because the lessons are everywhere, if we are open to learning.

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