Sun, May. 16, 2010
This past Sunday, brass band musician and music educator Brandon Franklin was murdered in an episode tragically reminiscent of the origins of SilenceIsViolence. Like Dinerral Shavers, Brandon was a founding member of a local brass band, a young man with a spirit full of energy, and a gifted musician with a special touch for sharing this gift with other young people.
Also like Dinerral, whose December 2006 murder spurred the SilenceIsViolence movement, Brandon lost his life to the petty concerns and disproportionate violence of our New Orleans streets.
The coincidence is shocking, but not surprising. This year has been a terribly violent one in New Orleans, including brazen shootings along the French Quarter portion of Canal Street and continued high levels of domestic violence, which too often ends in loss of life.
What can the community do in the face of this crisis? In the three years since 5,000 New Orleanians marched to City Hall together and implored city leaders—futilely, as it turned out—to guide us toward equitable public safety, SilenceIsViolence has been examining and acting upon this question. One program that tries to sustain the community solidarity of our original march is the City Walks/Peace Walks program. In partnership with the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, the SilenceIsViolence Peace Walks take us through a different neighborhood each month, in an attempt to spread a message of peace and to persistently claim our streets for the cause of anti-violence.
Next Wednesday, May 19, SilenceIsViolence will join the V.I.P. Ladies and Kids and New Orleans Bayou Steppers social aid and pleasure clubs to walk in Brandon’s memory, through the Hollygrove district where he was killed. We will send details as the walk takes shape. We hope that many of you—and particularly our new city leaders—will join us in this memorial Peace Walk.
Over the next few weeks, the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force will remember and honor both Brandon and Dinerral in a series of fifth-anniversary events. The SAPC Task Force came to the forefront of social justice efforts shortly after Katrina. It summons the collective power of hundreds of local culture-bearers to recruit and recognize the potential of cultural practices and cultural respect to impact societal health, including our safety. Next Saturday, May 22, the Task Force will host its annual Resource Picnic at Riverview Park, from 11am to 6pm. This annual event brings together resource providers from around the city, including those who offer health care, safety, education, and housing for families and citizens in need. The following Sunday, May 30, a second-line parade will celebrate five years of Task Force advocacy efforts and community-based activities.
We will post details about all of these events on the SilenceIsViolence site as they become available. Meanwhile, our hearts and prayers go out to the family, band members, and O. Perry Walker students of Brandon Franklin, whose loss leaves a scar on the entire cultural community, and on the conscience of New Orleans.