Sat, Oct. 02, 2010
Tragedy resonates through our community once again, as we mourn the shooting death of two-year-old Jeremy Galmon two days ago. As citizens and officials cry out, we must work through our shock and sadness to action--action with the substance and sticking power to make a true difference. We are faced with these unbearable moments too frequently. This time will we find the turning point we need as a city?
Our Mayor has called for action by the community, but also to maintain reason in our responses. Thank you, Mayor Landrieu, for asking that we not blame cultural leaders when tragedy strikes the very communities they are trying so hard to heal. The Young Men Olympian have worked for decades to strengthen New Orleans citizens and communities. New Orleans benefits from their dedication and vision, and groups such as the Young Men Olympian are an important component of a culturally and societally respectful city--ultimately, a healthy city.
As we call upon witnesses to take part in a criminal justice process that should bring some measure of accountability and comfort to the family, we should also remember just how broken that system is. And remember that the family's need, and the community's need, do not end when funeral expenses are paid. Earlier today, a father flew in from Texas for the murder trial of his young son, Gervais Nicolas. When his plane landed, he learned--via text message from the ADA trying the case--that tomorrow's trial date has been canceled. This man has lost his son in a senseless murder; he has tried to participate in the criminal justice process from a distance; he has taken time off work and purchased numerous plane tickets---all to learn time and again at the last minute that the trial is not proceeding. One of the witnesses to the murder, Guy McEwan, was himself killed over a year ago. The criminal justice system has come with nothing. And we wonder why witnesses are reluctant to come forward, and why the community is discouraged from taking part in criminal justice?
As the shock of Sunday's tragedy subsides, do not let our resolve as a community subside at the same time. Let's keep our memories longer this time. In memory of two-year-old Jeremy Galmon, and out of respect for his family and all families who lose loved ones in this horrific way, we must look both backward and forward from such an event. What can we do before such a shooting takes place, to prevent it? How can we respond to this shooting with both compassion and responsibility?
SilenceIsViolence will attempt a small start by hosting a series of grief support meetings for families and friends of those lost to violence. The first meeting will take place on Saturday, October 9. With the assistance of a therapist specializing in grief support, we will provide an outlet and a supportive community for families afflicted by the violence. We will also ask for families' input toward community-based responses and solutions. Through this grief support group and the Victim Allies Project, we will continue to serve victims and victim-survivors of violence, to advocate for a responsible criminal justice system, and to seek ways to stop the violence from happening in the first place. Please contact program director Tamara Jackson at (504) 453-1155 for more information.