Thursday, October 08, 2009

Not a pretty picture

When the NYTimes holds up a mirror.

Great article but not fun to read.


Anonymous said...

New reporter, same New York Times. Without the photos, would the reader know the victims in almost all these cases were black and the cops, bouncers, or doctors were white? Would they know that these are major concerns in the black community, with daily heated discussions on black radio. Yet the only sources he quotes in his "much ado about nothing" are white. Since when does Peter Scharf have any idea what the black community thinks of the racist atrocities carried out under the banner of law? Doesn't take long for New York Times correspondents to get assimilated into the local white media

E said...

I must take it for granted that people aren't aware of the racial component. On second reading, I see that the Times did call the various probes "civil rights investigations." I think the point should have been made more explicitly. The article also says that "the impact — on the city’s race relations... could be profound," instead of examining the profound impact these incidents have already had on race relations.

However given that the New York Times hasn't really given any space at all to the investigations swirling around the NOPD or how these fresh investigations from the Katrina narrative connect to today's problems on the force, I thought this article laid out a pretty damn harsh indictment of our criminal justice system, harsher than anything I can remember reading in the T-P. I mean, there is a ton of stuff in this roundup, stuff that hasn't really been weaved together for any major national publications, at least not in a very long time.

Anonymous said...

My main point is that this is the "white narrative"--that no one is upset with these crimes, which you know is a lie and the reporter, elsewhere claims to be a listener of WBOK, so he deliberately is omitting the black anger around these issues. Yes, it's better than the Times Picayune but the Times-Picayune is the official publication of record of white New Orleans, so that's not saying much. True, is you search the article with a magnifying glass you can figure out the code "racially charged brawl" means white cops beating up black people and then covering it up. "Civil rights" investigation means the victims are black. Why the code? Why blame this on the NOPD alone when the white doctors at memorial killed more blacks in three hours than all the cops combined? The headline for this story should be "Local Whites not Concerned with Racist Actions and Murders and in the Aftermath of Katrina."

Trust me, if these ever go to jury no white juror is going to hold the white defendants accountable. In their minds, blacks went wild and they share a collective guilt for the actions of a few, so the innocent ones deserve no sympathy.

ethan said...

I'm extraordinarily pleased to see these investigations happen and I find the resistance to such investigations similar to the resistance to investigate torture at the federal level. The 'let's move on' attitude isn't going to cut it--we need justice.

In light of Anon's comments, I think it's worth adding that there are many whites--including myself--who are pleased to see these investigations happen because I think that the NOPD is now at a Len Davis level of corruption and that the corruption ties into many huge problems, from the high murder rate to the behavior of cops seen in '05.

E said...

I think the trouble in discussing this issue, and I keep putting off a longer post on it, is that there are two things that need to be addressed, both potentially very difficult.

One is what we should do in terms of prosecuting individuals for incidents that occurred during the aftermath of Katrina. I, for one, want justice. But because of the chaotic nature of those times, I sometimes feel as though "justice" is as ridiculous a thing to set as a policy goal as would be something like "healing." So I think there should be a conversation as to whether pursuit of the truth in some post-Katrina incidents should occur only in the criminal courts or perhaps in some sort of civil truth commission. I definitely think there needs to be a system through which families of victims can obtain some sort of pain and suffering compensation. I don't know. Maybe I'm making it more complex than it has to be. Maybe the path of least resistance is to simply let the courts handle it as they may.

The NOPD is a somewhat separate matter in that the whole institution needs to be totally renovated. While I am supportive of the investigations into NOPD brutality during Katrina as a matter of principle, I have a separate enthusiasm for these investigations because of my hopes that they will force a total reinvention of the police force - something that would be totally necessary regardless of whether or not the officers involved in the Algiers or Danziger bridge incidents are ever brought to justice. The police incidents after the storm are part of a much longer narrative of police abuse and corruption.

I don't mean to totally separate the two issues but in terms of moving forward, there's something of a venn diagram in my mind. On one side you have incidents that occurred during the storm for which justice must be served. On the other you have NOPD corruption, abuse, and incompetence. In the middle you have examples of bad NOPD behavior manifested during the chaos of the aftermath of the levee failure.

I may be officially rambling at this point but I think that just mashing the venn diagram together obscures the diagnosis and makes it harder to move forward with remedies.

Just throwing it out there - is there any reason the next Mayor shouldn't request a federal receivership of the police department through the DOJ Civil Rights Division?

mcbrid35 said...

The "chaos" of post-Katrina New Orleans is BS.

If the U.S. military can hold courts-martial during a time of war, as they have done for hundreds of years, then surely the bringing the full force of the US. Justice Department to determine facts during a possibly ten day period can be done. Tell me, how "chaotic" was the unflooded west bank as opposed to an actual field of battle?

Anonymous said...

I agree wit McBrid,
So the family of Emmett Everett, the black man killed by Doctors at Memorial hospital, only deserves an apology while the white cop who torched a black man deserves prison? The family of the black woman who died at the convention center because homeland security blocked ambulances deserves an apology while the police at Danzinger deserve jail?

This is moral relativism at its worse. If you killed someone under the color of law or in an official capacity as a medical care provider, you should pay the price.

We developed the Nurenberg acccords and International Court precisely to prevent people from using "special circumstances" as an excuse for murderous behavior.
Every human has an individual conscience and the history of human progress our of the ranks of primitive primates has been to get them to use it when mob mentality takes hold.

In the meantime, why don't you give some attention to the "truth" of these stories. I see noting in this blog on the Memorial mass killings or even the St. Bernard racist moves to exclude blacks. When you ignore cover stories on the New York Times about mass killing during Katrina by white doctors, it gives the impression you want to avoid confronting your reader's support for these actions.

E said...

The only readers I have that "support" unjustifiable post-Katrina murders must be here by accident.

I think that there is a bit more gray area in terms of what people think the best way to pursue justice is now that we are where we are.

I don't think I have a fear about confronting other people about this. I think it is more accurate to say that I want to avoid confronting myself - these issues are really really really depressing and difficult - I've had several false starts.

That's a poor excuse though, and I will push myself to deliver a proper thread about all of this as soon as I can.

Anonymous said...

There will be no justice in New Orleans anymore than the white Birmingham population ever came to terms with what they did to blacks.

White jurors are not going to lock up a white doctor, bouncer, or cop for killing black people during Katina. We already know that because the local D.A. wont even take most of these cases. This means the only justice will be telling the truth about racism, which is your responsibility if you regard yourself as a progressive. It's not your job to figure out what constitutes justice for the black families who tragically lost loved ones. It's the height of white arrogance to tell these families that you have not "worked out" in your own mind what justice means for them--that they may just get an apology.

If you spent more time telling the truth about rampant racism in the white community manifested as indifference to these injustices, rather than avoiding the topic, perhaps these families will receive justice.

G Bitch said...

Because x, y, and z are happening now and have happened in the past doesn't mean they will or should always happen forever into infinity. Too often, these conversations revolve around absolute statements and "facts." NO has racial strife because the divisions benefit the powers-that-be. And because we have a segregated school system[s], housing patterns, pay scales, etc. and the lingering, deepening effects of white flight. The biggest threat to all of this is seeing each other, across all lines, as humans.