Scoot: Echoes of apathy and the culture of killing

July 30, 2018 - 11:15 am

New Orleans is the focus of the national news again; but this time, it is not positive.  At about 8:30 pm Saturday night, ten people were shot - three dead and seven injured - in what police believe may be a targeted gang-related shooting.  NOPD believes that one person in a large crowd was the target.  The target was killed, but two others died and seven others were injured because of the indiscriminate hail of bullets fired into the crowd.

How can we all care if those most affected refuse to change?  Why should we all care if the political leaders continue to ignore the root problems that create a culture of violent crime in New Orleans?

Last week, I talked about the problems of violent crime in New Orleans and the excuses for why some people are so violent vastly outnumbered an appetite for change.  If the community most impacted by violent crime is not willing to face fundamental changes to break the cycle, then what incentive does the entire city have to even care?

So sensitive are the issues that must be addressed that political and community leaders dare not apply an honest approach.  But if the leaders - those who could actually manifest change - refuse to be honest, what hope is there?

This is from a statement issued by the office of newly-elected Mayor Latoya Cantrell:

“There is no place in New Orleans for this kind of violence.  I speak for everyone in our City when I say we are disgusted, we are infuriated, and we have had more than enough.  Three more lives - gone.  It has to end.  This happened near my neighborhood, on the edge of Broadmoor.  It’s unacceptable anywhere.”

Council members Jason Williams and Helena Moreno issued a joint statement following the shooting:

“Brining the suspects to swift justice is imperative, but even more critically, we need an ‘all hands on deck’ approach from the City toward fighting violent crime.  Violence takes lives in a moment, but it is born long before ti erupts and its echos have far-reaching impacts.”

Council member Jay Banks said in a statement:

“Three dead and seven injured is far past heartbreaking, it is disgusting.  Let me be clear, this egregious act of violence has no place in our communities and must stop.”

Banks added that anyone with information should not feel an “obligation to protect” those responsible.

The aforementioned comments would mean something, but they don’t because the same “this must stop” and “enough is enough” has been uttered countless times in the past and there has been no signs of addressing the real issues.

Last summer, June 4, 2017, following a night of violence in New Orleans, then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu made the following statement at a press conference where he was flanked by NOPD Chief Michael Harrison and other district commanders:

“If we continue to create the condition that violence grows in - where there is access to alcohol - access to drugs - individuals that are not taking responsible for themselves - we can chase them all over the place and witnesses that don’t come forward.  So there are deep underlying problems that produce this level of violence in the city of New Orleans - since the beginning of our time until today.”

Mayor Landrieu continued:

“I want to call the people of this city not purpose - no matter what may is standing here - not matter what police chief is standing here - if we don’t get to the root cause of violence of drugs - of all the other things that are causing it - we are going to continue to have the level of violence.”


During that press conference, Mayor Landrieu admitted that the city and the police know who the shooters are.


When is it no longer acceptable for political leaders stand before the community and with dramatic emphasis tell the people of New Orleans that “this must stop?”  When will it no longer be acceptable for political leaders to pretend to protect the citizens of this city and proclaim “we must address the root problems” without ever defining the root problems?

I say this is the time to hold our political leaders accountable, but the citizens of our city must be held accountable, as well.  The root of the problems that create a culture of killing in New Orleans, or any city, start with the simple concept of raising children to be responsible citizens.  The beginning of the crime culture results from sex to fulfill an urge rather than understanding that sex is an act with consequences and one of the consequences is pregnancy.  Too many children are brought into this world as the result of an urge and not the result of two responsible individuals.

This country set up a system to help those who need help, but it has become a system that turns having sex and babies into a career choice.  However, the fact that our system can be abused does not mean that it should be abused. 

Political leaders instinctively point to problems beyond the citizens.  It is considered political suicide to define a citizen - a voter - as the source of the problem.  It is far more tempting for politicians to find excuses that remove blame from the individuals that are directly involved in creating and continuing the cycle of killings.

While the beginning of the problems lie in sex to fulfill a momentary urge, the problems grow from that point.  Education is available, and it is a necessity to the creation of a civilized society.  And yet, for too many young individuals, getting an education is not valued as important.  Too many young people 16 and under are not in school and live in households and communities that does not stress education.  Few young people are born with the intrinsic DNA to find a path from the wilderness of an unstructured community.

Not only is importance of education diminished, but the importance of working and the understanding that no one is entitled to anything do not appear to be prominent. 

Many underprivileged parents are raising responsible youth, but there are enough role models setting an example of entitlement, or even worse, the benefits of a flexible work schedule crime as a career vs. the structure of the workplace is a temptation those without the understanding of personal responsibility cannot resist.

 A civilized society is created, and defined, by a path of life that is colorblind.  Addressing the problems that create the culture of violent crime is not about race even if there are those who try to make that case.  Sadly, members of the community most effected by violent crime that speak to the root problems are dismissed as sellouts; and this is why even addressing the problems is perhaps the biggest problem.

Success in life transcends race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.  Success in life results from specific understandings about the role each individuals plays in the context of a diverse society. Those who succeed, from every community, all followed a few basic principles:  you, not the world, are responsible for your actions, education is important and that includes a trade and not just college, respect for human life, knowing what it feels like to be loved and one of the most important tenets of success is having an undying hope in oneself and the future.

When political leaders selfishly pit one side against another for the sole purpose of getting votes, the masses buy into the “it’s not our fault” mentality.  The truth is - it is our fault.

Also contributing to the culture of violent crime is a criminal justice system that fails to establish real consequences for negative behavior. Going to jail should not be a badge of respect or a family reunion.  Establishing real consequences for criminals is essential, but in theory, the ultimate solution is accepting the responsibility of children.

The political dramas of press conferences and the strong language of statement are meaningless, and it is time for us to recognize that.  It is not enough to act like you care - is it time to show you care.

Attacking the root problems that create a culture of violent crime may be a long-range solution, but it there is, at least, a beginning to solving the problems, society would be more encouraged to pull together and work toward change.

It is no longer acceptable for political leaders to proclaim “enough is enough” and “we must stop this now.”  The first step is for the citizens to say to their elected officials - “enough is enough” and what needs to stop is the failure to address the real problems.

Comments ()