Monday’s Times-Picayune carried a story in the Metro section about a young man named Chivas Doyle. He just turned 24 last week. He was attending Delgado Community College. He was a practical joker. Everyone called him Tank because he was 7′ tall.
He was found dead in his FEMA trailer in the Upper Ninth Ward, shot in the back of the head.
The details of the story are heart-breaking, but also frustratingly few. For example, the article states that Tank was a “community activist” but doesn’t elaborate.
E.J. was ticked off about it yesterday. I held out some vague hope that there would be a bigger story about Tank in today’s paper. I was hoping against hope to see something on the front page. But no. Instead, the front page is dominated by this headline: “Disheartened by the disfigured city, many Katrina survivors are turning to plastic surgery as a pick-me-up.”
The coverage of this man’s story is simply inadequate. With all respect due the grieving family, New Orleanians deserve to know more about how he lived and what we’ve lost. Instead, we get face-lifts and tummy tucks.
One of the ideas put forward by the organizers of last week’s march on City Hall was to “Recognize the Tragedy of Each Victim.”
Each violent death is an individual and immeasurably tragic loss. We must treat each victim with the respect due to each valued member of our community, not as a number.
What we can do:
* Put pressure on the press to follow the stories of individual victims, name victims whenever possible, and treat each victim as a valued individual.
What our leaders can do:
* Victims of violent crime (except in cases where the victim wishes to remain unnamed) must be named publicly. We are calling for a public information board at City Hall that lists each murder victim in the city and tracks the progress on their case.
I’m contacting Bob Ussery, the reporter who wrote about Tank, to give him some encouragement that we need to have more coverage of this story. Read the article yourself. Bob’s contact info is at the end of the article, if you should be inclined to give him a call or drop him an e-mail. I realize editors call the shots at a newspaper, so maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. But it’s a start.