There were 9 murders in the first 8 days of 2007 here in New Orleans. The violence and crime is everywhere, not just a few neighborhoods like in Boston. On Sunday a stolen car thief
screeched around my corner, 30 yards from my house, slammed into two cars, got out and brandishing a gun starting running down the street. He started taking his clothes off (will there be a "baggy jeans running" event in future Olympics?) until he was naked, as it started to rain. He wasn't caught, and the dogs lost his scent in the rain.
Welcome to New Orleans.
Murdered last week was the Hot 8 drummer, shot in the back of the head while he was in his car.
Also murdered was Helen Hill, the murder that really put this city over the edge. Helen and her husband met at Harvard. Lived in Nova Scotia, the South and here. Her husband was a doctor, she a filmmaker. They were great friends with friends I've made down here, a group I call my "anarchistic doctors", who set up a free medical clinic after the storm because the government wasn't getting anything done. This group of people are the most warm, wonderful group of people who are all about peace, loving the creativity and vibrancy of New Orleans, of all races and nations. We spent the Fourth of July playing with the kids in someones front yard, eating watermelon, and shooting fireworks off in the Neutral Ground. They had started a Food not Bombs group that collected donations at Whole Foods and distributed it to the needy.
Helen didn't want to return to New Orleans, with her husband and 2 year old. But he was insistent that the City needed people like them. So they returned to help. Last week an intruder broke into their home, murdered her, shot her husband 3 times and left, not to be caught.
The two murders have galvanized the City. There will be 3 marches converging on City Hall today, ending up there demanding accountability by their politicians. It has been reported on NPR this morning, with a soulful yearning message written by a friend and attorney.
The murder rate here is approximately 4 times greater than Boston on a per capita basis.
Please try and help anyway you can. Insist that your congressman release funds for FBI and other law enforcement help. People are really reaching the end of their rope here, and everyone is concerned, rich and poor, black and white, young and old. Hopefully those controlling the purse strings will hear.