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Anti-Violence March to City Hall
by Matt Olson Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 at 4:48 PM

Over 1,000 people marched to New Orleans City hall to demand safe neighborhoods.

Anti-Violence March ...
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Four coordinated marches united against recent violent crime, consisting of more than a thousand outraged New Orleanian residents and supporters, converged on the City Hall steps around noon today. The crowd overflowed into the lawns, street and park surrounding the building. Several speakers, each from different neighborhoods in the city, spoke candidly about what actions police, politicians, communities and each of us need to take for the city to combat a decades-old issue resulting from New Orleans’ entrenched poverty, lack of quality education and drug culture.

As one speaker said, “shame” is, and has been, on all of us, especially city leaders who have concentrated power, for the recent murders, which are spread across many neighborhoods. Only ten days into 2007, nine murders occurred—six in a twenty-four hour span.

For some, with the passing of sadness and grief comes anger toward the failure of the police and politicians to apprehend perpetrators, protect witnesses and prosecute successfully. Five specific demands were announced by a march organizer: gun safety and responsibility through tracing of guns in violent crimes and personal safeguarding if you have guns; community policing, citing more cops are needed to bike in biking neighborhoods and walk in pedestrian ones rather than in cars in order to build trust and accountability between citizens and police; increase compensation and benefits for the police force in accordance with the responsibilities they must take on within the communities they serve; no crime victim goes unnamed either by the media or the government (unless the victim’s family chooses) to preserve each victim’s humanity; create an open, updated and user-friendly process for the public to access information on all types of crime, which would be supported by neighborhood information gathering; and lastly, to address the root causes of crime by producing opportunities for quality education, extracurricular activities, and technical job training in which youth value life.

In addition, with Mayor Ray Nagin and many city council members present, the demands were supplemented with practical and clear ways in which politicians and the police can proceed to fulfill them. The lasting impact of the march in the hours and days afterward will be this—the most serious and necessary To-Do List this city has seen and has the ability, if not the will, to achieve locally.

There were powerful speeches, such as those by Pastor Rafael and musician Glen David Andrews, and emotional testimonies from friends and loved ones of those recently killed, including a remarkable moment of forgiveness as Nikita Shavers prayed for mercy for her brother’s killer.

Away from the official speakers’ podium, two white men holding signs saying "We Want a Green Zone!" explained that they wanted a Baghdad-style military lockdown in New Orleans. An older white couple holding the same signs were less certain about solutions to the violence they feel is escalating in the city. A group of four African-American men standing together with matching shirts reading "ENOUGH" pointed squarely to social factors that predate Katrina but have become disastrously worse since the hurricane. One said, "We need jobs. Our youth need things to do, places to go. The Boys' and Girls' Clubs are all closed. You can't even get a job in a restaurant now if you've been to jail; they do background checks. People are coming home and they don't have housing."

This violence comes just two weeks after Police Chief Warren Riley attempted to downplay the 161 murders in 2006 at a year-end press conference. Despite the spin, even the Times-Picayune has consistently included the statistic that even with the overestimate of 230,000 residents, the city would far exceed their average murder rate of 56 per 100,000 over the last several years with a record high of more than 70.

Reported by Matt Olson with additional reporting by Zeph Fishlyn

Photos courtesy of (follow link for more)

Rally Speaches

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by Matt Olson Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 at 4:48 PM

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Glen David Andrews
by Matt Olson Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 at 4:48 PM

Glen David Andrews...
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by Matt Olson Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 at 4:48 PM

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
ZDOyyKYNozEI Caroliine Monday, May. 28, 2012 at 3:02 PM
Government Brutality Deserves Execution of Officials Kurt Brown -- Saint Ram Bone Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007 at 2:03 PM
We're Not Gonna Take It! Charles London Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007 at 1:23 AM
help with source on police figure matt Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007 at 6:22 AM
high murder rate... but how many police? Bardamu Friday, Jan. 12, 2007 at 5:21 PM

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