Thursday, February 5, 2009

in fear of the police

it is enough to be afraid of the drug dealers and freaky psychopaths wandering the new orleans' streets but it is unbearable to also fear the cops. i remember once, before the storm when the very well armed drug dealers were sitting on my porch and the police threatened to arrest me, going so far as to push me into the wall of my house. whose job was it to get armed thugs off my porch, mine or theirs? when i visited the station to report drug activity, the police responded by letting the very ones i called about know that it was me that ratted them out. that was potentially two slugs with my morning cup of coffee. in the post-katrina landscape, we have police officers brandishing guns at schools and roughing up second line brass band members. the police wonder why the community won't cooperate with them. at the very least, they seem lazy and inept to protect us and at the worst, they are the bete noire of the city. now we have a 22 year old man shot 14 times in the back during the early morning hours of new years' eve by a gang of plain clothes cops. the young man had no criminal record and was in possession of a legal gun. i don't know what went on in the dark hours of that night but i do know that if several men in plain clothes were approaching me, i would be very afraid. i do know that getting shot in the chest can spin a person, causing bullets to penetrate the back but 14 of them seems excessive. riley called it a gun battle, saying the man opened fire on the police first. well, i will agree with him that 14 bullets constitutes a gun battle. maybe he fired on them first and maybe he did not. it was new years' eve. perhaps the sound of firecrackers startled the police into thinking he shot at them. maybe the firecrackers made him think he was being shot at and he returned fire. we live in a war zone and the mounting fear makes us all trigger happy. did these plain clothes officers identify themselves as police? could he hear them or did he think he was under siege from a gang of thugs? we may never know what happened that night but the thing i keep going back to is 14 bullets in the back. 14. did they retrieve any bullets from his gun? was there powder residue on his hands? can you prove he fired? it is this type of occurrence that spooks us even further here in little mogadishu. because when they are shooting people in the back in the french quarter, you desperately want to believe that the police are not doing the very same thing in another part of town.

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