Silence is Violence

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Strike Against Crime

Date: Fri, Jan. 06, 2012 Public outrage is mounting at the deeply destructive demonizing of victims taking place in our city. Apparently at a loss to stem the violence gripping our city, the NOPD has adopted a policy of blaming victims for their own suffering, posting arrest records--whether or not relevant to the crime at hand, decades in the past, or verified in a court of law--often before the victim's name is even acknowledged. Families are re-traumatized and antagonized in this process: hardly a constructive means of building trust and collaboration with the community.
See http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/01/nopd_release_of_murder_victims.html, http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2012/01/to_new_orleans_police_innocent.html, and http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2012/01/new_orleans_police_superintend_7.html for recent TImes-Picayune coverage and commentary on this topic.

It is the position of SilenceIsViolence that respect for victims of violence and their families is essential on both human and strategic grounds. Why would a family whose loved one, recently murdered, is painted as a criminal deserving of his fate want to work with police? Instead, we call for a policy of engagement, compassion, and respect for victim families, for everyone's sake.

Respect for victims is one of the topics we will embrace during this year's Strike Against Crime, January 23-28. The brainchild of SilenceIsViolence founder and Board President Ken Foster, the Strike Against Crime calls upon every citizen to take time out from his or her regular routine to address the crisis of violence in New Orleans.

During Strike Against Crime week, individuals may offer support to a neighbor who has been victimized; businesses may make a contribution to youth-diversion programs or other public-safety efforts; groups can join one of the walks, forums, or memorials we will host during the week (see www.silenceisviolence.org for evolving details). And public officials can join us throughout the week, to demonstrate and actualize engagement with residents where we are, and to follow the community's lead on making the city safer.

When violence strikes any resident of our city, the impact on families is severe, and the ripple effect throughout the city is tangible. It should be. Leading up to Strike Against Crime week, we will share stories of local victims, our clients via the Victim Allies Project. We hope that these stories and experiences will counter some of the damaging rhetoric being levied by the NOPD, and will help to re-unite the city's energies on behalf of each and every family.

TROY TILLMAN
Troy Tillman, age 9, was shot on December 18, 2011 in the 6900 block of Salem in New Orleans East. He was playing outside with friends when two men drove by in a car and shot at another man. Troy was caught in the crossfire and sustained three gunshot wounds to the arm and back. He survived and was discharged from University Hospital on December 19. There were several witnesses to the incident.

No contact was made from the NOPD to Troy's family until December 28, following numerous requests from our organization. It is unclear what investigation of the crime scene took place. Crime Commissioner James Carter accompanied our organization to the family's home on one occasion; no other contact has been made to the family by city officials. At the present time, we are pleased to report that the family is in active communication with NOPD detectives.

Troy is a cheerful, friendly boy who likes to play outdoors. When our organization first visited his home following the incident, neighborhood children and other friends kept stopping by with stuffed animals and cards for Troy, wishing him a quick recovery. He is a student at Reed Elementary--yet incredibly, the first contact the family received from the school was a visit to the house requesting that Troy not discuss the incident while at Reed! No counseling or other emotional support has been extended to Troy or his family from any entity other than SilenceIsViolence and the family's neighbors. At this time, the family feels afraid and confused by the lack of official city contact, and is not sure sure what to do next to protect the safety of their children.

Troy's story and status will be included, along with the stories of several other victims, in our upcoming Victim Allies Project annual report, to be released during Strike Against Crime week.

For more information, please call SilenceIsViolence Executive Director Tamara Jackson, (504) 453-1155.

www.silenceisviolence.org