Thursday, March 10, 2011

Comments from Various Places re:Eris/NOPD

I have been inundated with comments on my original post, all of which I have posted. There a great number of well articulated and diverse opinions in the comment section of that post that I urge you to read.

There have also been some standouts and some found elsewhere that I think need to be considered. All have been posted here in their entirety.

First from this blog's original post:

Posted Anonymously:
As a former member of NOPD who has worked the FQ during Mardi Gras, I can sadly say that some of the information you give does not surprise me in the least.

Please understand that it is not indicative of all (or even most) NOPD, nor even all 5th district cops. The 5th district is notorious. It's a very large and very hardcore dangerous area to police. However, this should not impact a bunch of drunken revelers in costume.

It would be interesting to find out why they barricaded the street. Did they order come down from on high or did they take initiative. Sounds like a bunch of unsupervised hotshots acting like they just watched too many episodes of COPS.

I worked barricade duty and all we did if someone broke it was go round 'em up and point them in the opposite direction (kinda like herding sheep.) The most dangerous it got was people who insisted that they were special friends of the mayor or some big bigwig demanding to drive their limo through and trying to run us over (seriously.)

If a person gets combative, then proper procedure is used to handle that one person. Back-up is called if it's too hot to handle. Somebody's Sgt. should have been called to the scene if it was that bad.

Sounds like the testosterone was flowing a little to heavily in the PD and alcohol a little to heavily in the crowd. Bad mix all around, but the cops are duty bound to protect the safety of people, not to power trip.

Mouthing off to a cop is not illegal. "Police officers cannot have their peace disturbed," meaning that you can tell a cop to go bleep his momma and he can't legally do anything if you aren't also committing a crime. But, they can only bust you for the crime, not being an ass. As far as I know, marching without a permit is hardly an offense which deserves baton wielding, foot chases and randomly throwing people to the ground.

P.S. NOPD doesn't use "mace." They use military grade pepper spray and that shit is NASTY. I'd rather be maced 20 times than get pepper sprayed. It's not a trivial weapon and should NEVER be used in crowds.

From a article, posted by allferalcats backs up what was reported to me minutes after the altercation:
in fact many of us that organize and participate in this event are new orleans natives, young homeowners, business owners, and avid advocates for quality of life in our neighborhoods. krewe of eris is intended as a positive and accessible convergence. many of us are upset by the careless acts of just a few of the participants in the parade that may have been the cause of citizen complaints that triggered police reaction. there is nothing radical or interesting about middle class white people damaging other middle class white peoples' property, and in this case only served to endanger a joyful and benign group of paraders.
standing in the heart of this parade as the police tore through the crowd i saw people arrested at random, instruments intentionally smashed, hateful unprofessionalism and violence from the police. people were scared, crying, running. with a taser pointed in my face i said " no one is attacking you, please calm down" and was told " son if you beat that drum again im going to beat the fu** out of you."
any disgruntled young white person that at that time tried to turn this into some sort of showdown endangered everyone there. Their own privilege and ignorance to the reality of police brutality afforded them such carelessness. if violence and property damage holds a place in the pursuit of radical change in our society, this was not it. indeed there are young people that visit our city that behave in ways that are detrimental to the quality of life we as a city are battling for. most of us who had anything to do with the staging of this parade couldnt see a thing, as we were playing music and carrying homemade floats as the crowd swelled around us.
and yet the sweeping condemnation, stigmatization, stereotyping, and lack of empathy for people affected by violence that some people in this community are displaying is disheartening. i can only imagine the hatred you seed in your heart for people that resemble you less, be they queer, of color, or in poverty.
blind follower of the state, search yourself.

Then earlier today, this video was sent to me in the original post's comments section. It also backs up the original post's reportage of "I want to see your backs, no faces." The kid my husband saw turning toward the police with a guitar case and his arms out can be seen at the very end of the second clip briefly. My husband said that was the kid who was immediately beat down after doing that. Unfortunately the video doesn't show that part, but thanks to whoever sent me this:


Anonymous said...

Excellent post by allferalcats, which confirms what I had also heard by one who was there, despite those who claim there was no vandalism. The entire incident could have been far worse than it was, and had it taken place in a majority black neighborhood by majority black residents, we all know what escalation would have occurred. That's race in NOLA and it's reality.

The first question is (regarding the kids), what happens to reign them in going forward? We all know basically who they are and where they live. Alot of people have had enough of them and wish them to "travel" away from us. Does it take NOLA actually dealing with blighted housing? Should Eris have had the expectation that some of them were just going to act crazy? Do the train yards need security? Their numbers and what they do to this city have exceeded our patience. My own initial lack of empathy was due to frustration with them and secondly shock that people were taking on NOPD.

The second question regards NOPD. I can't believe I'm saying this, because 5th District is legendary for their criminality and brutality, but not having been there, I can almost cut them some slack, considering. Look at it as a list: There were reports of vandalism they were responding to, paraders didn't disburse, some paraders were apparently kneeling in front of squad cars, others were throwing trash cans to block the squad cars, bricks/etc. were thrown at officers, someone slashed tires in front of officers, some paraders were actually pulling others who had been arrested out of the squad goes on and on. It's terrible that people got hurt, but considering, it's really surprising that it all wasn't worse. Can they ever be really reformed?

We already know how dangerous NOPD can be. It's disgusting and scary, but it's reality. "The kids" have also become a danger and I am amazed that they didn't realize the situation they were creating for the rest of the non-violent peaceful Eris people, much less for neighbors on the route. People could have died. I have to say, though, I am also surprised that Eris paraders didn't stop the vandals, didn't clear out when it started to get ugly, etc.

I can only speak for myself, but think that others feel the same way, in saying that I truly feel for those who just wanted to be creative and have a nice time (our lives are enriched by your creativity when you put on a play, when you play music, when you bike down the street in a charming outfit), and am simultaneously horrified and fed up with both NOPD and the "travelling kids".

Sam said...

I get it. I really do. What concerns me is all the generalization. "All travelers are stinky trouble makers." "All artists are anarchists." "All anarchists are artists."

Read my "Just Kids" post written after the horrific fire. Do we seriously want to lump every single "gutter punk," a term I abhor by the way, in with every other one? Some of these kids were out of control, of that there seems to be no question. Having been said, do we paint everyone with such a broad brush?

Homeowners in the Marigny are all bourgeois gentrifiers. Not true.

All gutter punks are anarchist drunks who don't take showers. Not true.

Everyone in Eris was responsible for the actions of a few who joined in. Not true.

All cops are brutal bastards who see the citizenry as the enemy. Also not true.

Until we stop piecing out labels and start having peaceful conversations we're doomed IMO.

But then. That's me.

andruokun said...

Anonymous said...

As far as the vandals, an Eris parader (my neighbor) who witnessed their behavior referred to them in a general way, which made it sound like they were pretty much the "traveler" kids. Not having been there, of course, I wouldn't think that someone peaceful like my neighbor was responsible for a few troublemakers; however, I can't imagine several hundred people not stopping a few dozen renegades from their behavior. I think it is reasonable to say that both Eris and Iron Rail, for example, do play with radical language a bit, which most get on an intellectual level or perhaps on a few levels, but a few see it as cause for reckless out-of-context action.

Why did the Eris paraders let it continue? What do you think would happen during St. Anne or Red Beans 'n Rice or 'T Rex if a few people started vandalizing? I'm pretty sure the krewes would stop the behavior immediately.

I guess what this also speaks to is size and mob mentality. Eris is likely just too big to parade without a permit. If they've got 50 people, that's one thing, but when you have an eventual 400 or so, you probably just can't control loose cannons. Maybe getting a permit and actually requiring people to chip in a couple bucks goes against their ethos, but the way Eris was portrayed by a few goes against what NOLA is about. And again, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think NOPD is getting a raw deal on this one. I can guarantee, if my house/car was on the parade route and someone started vandalizing either, I would have gone into him quickly and I would have been out for blood (This coming from a pretty peaceful person who probably makes less an hour than most in Eris).

I did read "Just Kids" a month or so back, but I have to say that Jules Bentley's essay is where I'm aligned. Unfortunately generalizations are unfair and unclear (but it does save time not to continually add "only some of the ___" clauses), but we all are getting weary from the worst element of the "traveling" kids. Ultimately, they just aren't from here, so it's like having any tourists for an extended period. At a certain point, you just want to be around people that get it, especially when those that don't get it make everyone's lives more difficult.

Anonymous said...

More about generalizations. It's one thing to make them when posting on a blog (sure, harmful attitudes can be perpetuated), but yet another when in real life out on the street (where they can lead to direct ramifications). Look what happened from the following generalisations:

1st) Everyone with a car is yuppie scum so if I kick it, walk on it, bricks its windows, the owner had it coming. Those people on the sidewalk are all yuppie scum or gentrifiers, so if I am hostile and intimidate them, they have it coming.

2nd) NOPD are all a bunch of racist murderers, so if they try to stop our parade, it is alright for us to throw trash cans in the street, throw objects at cops, provoke them, and basically not disburse. Also, when NOPD officers see someone slash squad car tires, apprehend him, and arrest him, it is alright for several hundred of us to chant, "Let him go" repeatedly, challenge the cops, and throw things at them.

The way I see it, these generalisations by the two elements of Eris led to everything that followed.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone here remember the Krewe Du Poux beatdown of 97/98? Where a group of ignoble clowns were stopped from "parading without a license" with batons and pepper spray, and subsequently won, against city hall, the right to parade without a permit. The Unlicensed Krewes were given a pass after that for many years.
Lately, however the Bywater and St. Roch neighborhood has been asking for increased police presence due to a series of of rapes/robberies/and murders. With increased police protection comes increased police enforcement of all of the other laws, whether you agree with them or not. This does include your illegal storefront, bike collective, bookstore, and living space.
This is not a problem of "crusties", many of which are people that you would label that although they are actually homeowners and long term residents. This is a problem for the residents. What is it that you really want? The illusion of safety with a police presence, or a viable and thriving artist community free from government control?