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May 28th Weekly Update!
Tue, May. 29, 2007
May 28, 2007
From now on, we will be writing our weekly letters at the beginning of
the week rather than the end. This shift is partly to accommodate the
new schedule for the SilenceIsViolence City Walks, which henceforth
will take place on Thursdays, in response to your requests. This
Thursday, May 31, we will gather at 6pm at Dominic's in the CBD (219
Carondelet St.), where Shamar Allen and members of the Hot 8 Brass
Band will entertain us and send us off. We will walk to the New Hope
Baptist Church in Central City (1807 LaSalle St.), where Pastor John
Raphael will lead us in a closing prayer. Our regular City Walks
transportation guru, Mr. Melvyn, will then bring anyone who needs a
ride back to Dominic's. The full route for the May 31 City Walk is
available on our website, www.silenceisviolence.org.
The other reason for writing to you all earlier in the week was sadly
reinforced this past weekend: much violent crime occurs over the
weekend, and our best opportunities for citizen response arise during
the work week.
When we marched to City Hall on January 11, Mayor Nagin responded by
pledging his total, undiluted attention to the problem of violent
crime in New Orleans. He agreed with what many of us voiced on that
day: Without security on our streets, the societal foundation for
rebuilding New Orleans is shaky at best. Yet we have just come
through a particularly bloody weekend, with five murders over just a
few days, and the Mayor has not responded publicly, has not appeared
before us to condemn this latest round of killing, has not sent the
message we need that the violence is not acceptable and that he in
undertaking specific actions as our leader to deal with these murders.
This Wednesday, May 30, Mayor Nagin will present his first State of
the City address since Hurricane Katrina and the flood. The Mayor's
office has particularly invited all of you, as supporters of
SilenceIsViolence, to participate. The address will begin at 6:30pm
at the National D-Day Museum.
We will be listening to the Mayor's speech for a focused message on
violent crime. The dramatic escalation in violence at the end of 2006
was succeeded by a leveling off, and by some accounts a slight
decrease, in violence during the months since the march to City Hall.
Yet crime statistics released at 7pm last Friday, May 18 revealed a
dramatic increase in violence during the first quarter of 2007 as
compared to the first quarter of 2006. Neither the NOPD nor the
Mayor's office offered comment on these statistics when they were
released. The current situation in our neighborhoods is unacceptable,
and on Wednesday evening we will be listening for the Mayor's response
to the crime statistics from the first quarter of 2007 and for his
specific methods for addressing them.
Police Superintendant Warren Riley has told us that joint training
sessions between the District Attorney's office and NOPD supervisors,
aimed at cooperation and mutual understanding in building cases and
particularly in crafting the most productive possible police reports,
will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, May 29. These joint training sessions
were one promise Chief Riley and DA Eddie Jordan made to the public
during policy announcements made in March, so we are glad to see them
finally taking place. We will expect to see more increased efficiency
in the movements of violent cases through the criminal justice system,
and a further decrease in pre-trial releases of defendents, as a
It is no coincidence that the stemming of the late-2006 escalation in
violent crime coincided with the heightened citizen-lead pressure on
the system and our leaders, pressure symbolized by, but certainly not
limited to, the January 11 March to City Hall. We, the citizens of
New Orleans, have managed in recent months to express a message that
our leaders had been frustratungly evading: that violent streets and
neighborhoods are not a satisfactory status quo; that rebuilding our
city is impossible without security; that the life of each neighbor
and loved one in our city is precious, and each death an immeasurable
tragedy that we will not tolerate quietly.
We must sustain our outcry, and the pressure it is evidently bringing
to bear on both the city leadership and the criminals in our midst. A
society that condones violence with silence should not be surprised
when that violence escalates. Our voices have helped to slow the
escalation; we must continue working to turn it back in the other
direction, and we must continue to demand that our leaders do the
Please attend Mayor Nagin's State of the City address this Wednesday,
and let him know that we are watching, listening, and waiting for him
to speak more forcefully on the issue of violence in our city.
Ken Foster and Baty Landis