Called the Cops

I called the popo on a neighbor last night. Hated to do it, but he was apparently intoxicated, enraged, and going after his brother with a damn shovel, yelling that he intended to kill him. Three cop cars showed up. Fortunately I don’t think anyone was hurt or arrested.

There is data indicating that “violence against women spikes after the home pro football team suffers an upset.” I don’t think the Packers victory was an upset, and the target here was not a woman, but still I have to wonder whether this would have happened if the Saints had won.

No Thanks but Lemme Ask My Roommate

I was alarmed to see this report because the location is not far from our house, but the details are kind of interesting.

Armed Robbery, 3900 Block of Banks Street

On February 21, 2011 at approximately 10:15 AM, First District Officers responded to an armed robbery in the 3900 Block of Banks Street. The victim reported an unknown black female wearing a purple shirt and blue jeans knocked on the back door to the residence and asked the subject if he wanted to have sex for money. The subject told her no but stated he would ask his roommate who was asleep.

The subject woke the victim and went back into the kitchen. The witness stated when he came back into the room, the black female had a small black revolver in her hand and the victim’s wallet. The subject stated the female left the residence with the wallet.

A spanish speaking officer arrived on scene and spoke with the victim. The victim relayed the same information received from the subject # 1 including his wallet had been sitting on a small table near the door at the time the female grabbed it.

A neighbor stated the female left in a blue minivan, possibly a Dodge. Both the witness and victim stated they had not seen this female before. The victim stated he had approximately $600 in his wallet.

Sent by Officer Melody Young -1st District NOPD.

As I read this a second time, I kind’ve gotta wonder if the subject #1 or the victim can be trusted in this case. It kind of reminds me of an incident at our old homestead.

A Few Photos of Habans Post-K

Yesterday the verdicts came down in the Henry Glover case. According to the morning paper:

Federal prosecutors won the first convictions in their sprawling probe of police misconduct in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as a jury Thursday found three New Orleans police officers guilty in a high-stakes case accusing them of killing Henry Glover, burning his body and fashioning an elaborate cover-up that kept the truth hidden for four years.

The jury of five men and seven women, however, acquitted two officers completely. The jury also cleared two defendants of charges that they beat two men who tried to help Glover after he was shot by former officer David Warren behind an Algiers strip mall.

I don’t have much to add to that. Certainly I don’t have any deep insights. I have to admit I have not been following the case as closely as I probably should have been. But I know this is a historic case and an important moment for the city, and I want to remember it.

There is one aspect of the case that stirs personal memories. Some of the action went down at Habans Elementary, the school where Xy was teaching right until Katrina hit.

I visited the school on October 12, 2005, a rough day for me, and I saw for myself that the building was still being used as a SWAT headquarters.

Later, I found myself visiting Habans again and again, hauling supplies to Xy’s new school, Eisenhower Elementary. What a bizarre time that was. Habans was still functioning as a police camp. Here are some photos I took there in December.

School Boats


Police Occupation

Old Chalk

The final big haul took place in January, 2006, and we got an assist from some of the cops.



That’s Capt. Jeff Winn in the tan cap. I’ve run into him a few times over the years. Some of the SWAT types hanging out at Habans frankly scared me, but Capt. Winn always struck me as a good guy. That’s a comment on his interpersonal skills; obviously I’m in no way qualified to comment on his conduct as an officer.

He testified in the Glover case but wasn’t charged with anything. According to an earlier report in the TP:

At the end of his closing argument, DeSalvo switched his attention to McRae’s commander during the storm, Capt. Jeff Winn, who led the NOPD’s Special Operations Division. Winn testified that he told McRae to move the car, but knew nothing about the fact that the officer had set fire to the vehicle.

Winn also testified that after the storm, he didn’t see the top chiefs of the Police Department, at one point saying he essentially ran the department in that first week, coordinating rescues and anti-looting patrols.

“Capt. Winn, here, is the true hero of the storm,” DeSalvo said. “Ask yourself what would have happened to this city but for Jeff Winn. Ask what would have happened to this city but for Greg McRae.”

Yesterday, McRae was convicted of burning Henry Glover’s body. Winn was never charged with anything.

I wonder what might have become of the Keenon McCann case? McCann filed a lawsuit against NOPD for shooting him on September 1, 2005. Specifically it was Winn and Dwayne Scheuermann who shot him.

Scheuermann was one of the cops indicted in the Glover case. He was charged with beating Glover’s brother, as well as destroying evidence and obstructing the investigation. He was found not guilty on all counts.

As for McCann, he was lured outside his home and murdered in August 2008, a case that remains unsolved.

I wonder if the feds are investigating that too.

Close Encounter

I had just dropped Xy & Persephone off at the house of some friends and run a few errands. I stopped back at the house to take care of a few things. I was surprised to find a cop car parked in the middle of the street and an officer standing nearby.

I parked my car, a little further from the house than usual because the cop was blocking the way. As I walked past, I asked, “You looking for someone?” He replied in the affirmative and waved me on.

I went inside and checked my e-mail. Read a few, sent a few. I was feeling like lying down in bed and having a good cry, finding the revelations of the past few days somewhat overwhelming, but first I decided to go out back and take care of a chore, namely bagging up some old screen frames with peeling paint.

I opened the back door and started to step outside when I saw something that made me freeze in my tracks.

It was somebody’s shoulder, in a black tee shirt.

That was all I saw, but it was enough. I retreated into the house and locked the door and went back upstairs. By the time I got to the front of the house to confirm the cops were no longer there (they weren’t) I had already dialed 911.

Soon the cops were back. I was sitting on the front steps. The cops had their guns drawn. I told them where the guy was. Peeking around the corner I could see he was still there. He must have either jumped our gate or climbed over the neighbor’s fence.

Our gate was locked, with the key inside the house. I explained that to one of the cops, and he asked, “Could you expedite that, please?” So I got the key and unlocked the gate and the cops went through.

Next thing they’ve got the guy with his hands in the air, and then in cuffs.

I kept my distance, not particularly interested in letting this guy see me, but that meant I couldn’t see him too well either. He was a black male with a fauxhawk haircut, wearing a black tee shirt that said “Bienville” on the back. When I described him to Debra later she said, “Oh yeah, he’s one of the guys who hangs around on the corner, meaning Bienville and Gayoso, I think.

When I asked one of the cops what it was all about, I was told, “He beat somebody up.” And since he trespassed on my property, would I be interested in pressing charges? I said I didn’t think so.

After that I went over to our friends’ house and had a good stiff drink.

Perhaps it is time to move.

Block Party

Our girl had her best sleep in a long while last night, but we sure didn’t. A bunch of guys decided to have a party in front of the abandoned house across the street, starting around 1:00 AM. They were drinking beer, listening to corridos, and generally laughing and hollering and carrying on. They were quite loud, and the music was louder. Somehow I slept through a couple hours of this. Or rather, I was half asleep, vaguely aware of the noise but still more or less zonked. Xy on the other had was suffering through a migraine and unable to sleep. Debra came out and asked the guys to quiet down, but they just laughed at her. Around 3:00 AM I woke up fully to make Persephone a bottle and took stock of the situation. Even with our windows closed (a shame on such a nice night) the noise level in our bedroom was way too high.

So I called the cops. Just as I did so, the party seemed to break up, so I told them to forget about it. Yet over the next hour the party reformed and broke up and reformed yet again. What the hell was happening out there? It was less loud now, but still enough to keep me awake. And then the final insult: the sound of breaking glass, as beer bottles were chucked against the steps of the abandoned house. How incredibly disrespectful. We’ve got more kids playing in our neighborhood than ever — and you’re busting bottles?

Broken Bottle [detail]

Thus I ended up calling the cops again, around 4:00 AM. I told them if a cruiser were just to pass by and flash its lights, that would probably be sufficient to break the party up for good. I don’t know if they actually came or not. I was too busy getting back to sleep.

One thing I want to make clear. I don’t relish calling NOPD on my neighbors. (I’m assuming these guys live nearby.) In fact, I hate it. I’d rather deal with people directly. But let’s be real. Even if I had the balls to go out in the middle of the night and confront a group of drunken guys on the street, the fact remains that we don’t even speak the same language, so I don’t really think we’d have a meeting of the minds.

If I could directly address these guys, here’s what I would have said: “As much as I hate calling the cops, you should hate it even more, because you never know what you’re going to get. The situation could get very ugly and out of hand, and people could get seriously hurt. But as far as I’m concerned you’re leaving me no other option, except suffering in silence, and that’s something I won’t do. I don’t mind people drinking beer on the street in the middle of the night. I really don’t — so long as you’re not bothering me. But if you are going to be so blatantly disrespectful to the neighborhood, then you’ve sacrificed any such tolerance on the altar of your own stupidity, and frankly I no longer care if you get chewed up by the prison-industrial complex. So how about you pipe the fuck down or go home?”

We love our little corner of Mid-City. We were just remarking yesterday afternoon how seeing black and white and Latino kids playing together was very sweet. But still, my only regret is not calling the cops earlier.

Strangely enough I’m feeling chipper today despite the lack of a good night’s rest. I think I’m on the upswing from whatever virus I was battling. Xy on the other hand went to school puking, and came home early. I hope she feels better soon.

So How Was Your Break?

Plenty of people are getting back to work and asking each other, “So how was your break?”

One of Xy’s fellow teachers answered thusly:

He was taking a shower in his house in Algiers when the police kicked in his door and sent in a K-9 unit. The dog rampaged through the house, somehow got up into the attic, and then fell through the ceiling on top of the guy as he emerged from the shower. The dog then attacked the guy, biting his leg. The guy had a grip on the dog’s jaws when the police entered and told him to leave the dog alone. They were searching for a young man with dreadlocks. This teacher is middle-aged and bald.

He wanted to sue but his lawyer told him to forget it, there are so many people waiting in line to get a settlement from the police department.

I don’t know what to make of this tale. It seems so fantastic. But Xy heard it directly from the guy’s mouth. And he was walking with a cane.

So how was your break?

Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)

Police sirens drew me out of my house Saturday around midnight, and I was surprised to see a hundred young people in the street. I live behind Warren Easton High School. Their dress made it clear the school was having a dance. The police were commanding the crowd to disperse.

This morning I talked about it with my neighbor Charles. Word on the street is that some W.E. students ran into some students from John Mac at the nearby McDonald’s and there was some straight-up old school beefing. I don’t know whether it came to blows or if a weapon was discharged but something obviously went bad or the dance wouldn’t have broken up that way.

Dangerously Cheesy

Here’s an excerpt from the 1st District Crime Activity Report for August 2nd-8th, 2008, reproduced verbatim and without editorial comment:

Location: 400 Blk. N. Johnson St.

Date/Time: Aug. 2,2008

Type: Auto Burglary

Gist: The victim parked and secured her vehicle on 8-02-08 at 7;00pm, only to return at 12;30pm on 8-03-08 and discover the rear window of her Black Dodge Caliber broken and ransacked. Upon takin a brief inventory of the vehicle, the victim could only find missing was a bag of Cheetoos.

Description: No witnesses were found, the incident is being investigated

Shots Verified

OK, so those were gunshots I heard Thursday morning. I got the direction wrong, though. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the 1st District Crime Activity Report for June 26, 2008, reproduced verbatim and without editorial comment:

Type: Automobile Burglary

Location: 3200 block of Bienville

Gist: At 2:225am, the victim was awakened by loud noises outside the residence. Upon looking out, he observed two unknown black males near his vehicle and the vehicle’s trunk was open and one of the subject was searching the interior and the other held a handgun. The victim armed his self and relocated outside and fired his weapon and the subjects fled but had taken the speaker’s out of the vehicle and left them on the ground. The victim then fired several more rounds at the subjects. The victim was advised that it was illegal to discharge a firearm when his life was not in immediate danger and was issued a summons

Someone Crapped in Our Yard!

Yesterday morning, between the hours of 9:00 AM and noon, someone came into our backyard and took a crap.

Yup. The mysterious intruder moved a plank of wood and a cat dish into strategic position and took a big old dump. Then, apparently, he or she wiped his or her ass with some torn up sheet music.


click if you dare

I figure someone had to go really bad and didn’t have access to a toilet. There’s a whole crew of guys working on Gwen’s house (her property abuts ours) whom I now regard with extreme suspicion.

I’ve taken steps to secure the perimeter.

Brace yourself for the most bizarre detail of all: When I called NOPD to report this incident, the person on the other end of the line was actually polite and seemed competent. I was more shocked by that than the discovery of human feces in our back yard.

There’s a Naked Woman on My Porch

From an anonymous Mid-City neighbor:

At a Night out against crime gathering tonight an NOPD officer was asked by a neighbor… Why didn’t the police come out when I called after being woken up by a house alarm at 3am? The officer’s reply… “Call and say there is a naked woman on your porch.” He proceeded to go into greater detail about this scenario. He seemed pretty amused with himself. He agreed at some point that the neighbor should get a gun which underscores the fact that we are on our own.

So as far as I can tell from our night out against crime… we are willing to come together as a neighborhood, however the NOPD would rather respond to a report of a peep show than do their damn job and make an appearance at our outing because they have to. He promised 250 officers would show up if someone calling the police claimed there was a naked woman on the porch. He even boasted what he claimed to be a true scenario where this happened, and hell he told my neighbors that police even showed up on horseback for a call like that!

Not only was this an inappropriate scenario which amused the officer for quite a few minutes, there were children and elderly neighbors at this gathering along with the worried neighbor who could not get the NOPD to respond to their calls just a few nights ago — it clearly explains why crime is so high in this city. I had hoped that this was an isolated incident, but after a night out against crime, I feel less convinced that we are safe in our neighborhoods.

Murder Map

I’ve been fiddling around with the new crime-mapping feature. It’s pretty interesting stuff. You can put in an address and see all the crime reports for the vicinity. You can specify the radius and the time frame and filter by different types of crime.

So, for example, I was able to learn that so far this year there have been ten or eleven murders committed within one mile of our house — walking distance, more or less.


click map to enlarge

The site says eleven, but I think it’s ten, because Anthony Placide’s murder seems to be listed twice.

There have also been 51 assaults, 114 auto thefts, 217 burglaries, 46 robberies and 259 thefts — for a grand total of 698 incidents so far this year.

Mind you, these are only the incidents for which NOPD has actually filed a report. The actual numbers are undoubtedly higher.

For an excellent, thoughtful analysis of what NOPD’s new crime mapping means, please read Brian Denzer’s new essay on Digital Democracy.

Update: Strangely enough, when I checked the map again today (Aug. 20) there are now only nine murders listed in this radius from the beginning of the year.

Another Failed Prosecution

Remember that retired teacher who got beat up on Bourbon Street shortly after Katrina? Sure you do, it was on television all over the world, a blatant example of police brutality and a huge embarrassment to the city of New Orleans.

Well, the latest news is that the accused officer was acquitted.

Some will say that Judge Frank Marullo has a pro-police bias. But I note the following from a Crouere’s Corner:

In the past, Marullo had legendary conflicts with former District Attorney Harry Connick and some believed that he was one of the more liberal judges on the criminal court bench.

And I’m sure some will say Marullo is dirty — nothing would surprise me.

But I am left to wonder about the prosecutor. This seems like such an easy case. It seems like another example of a botched prosecution.

We already know that District Attorney’s office can’t handle the job. Some of Eddie Jordan’s defenders have stuck by him out of a false hope that he’s going to clean up the police department. Unfortunately, he can’t, and this acquittal is further evidence of that. He’ll blow the Danziger case too. Mark my words.

Anyway you slice it, this is an ugly case. The other officer involved, who was also being prosecuted, killed himself last month.

And as for Stewart Smith, the third cop, who tried to stop the Associated Press from videotaping the incident? Charges against him were dismissed because the D.A. missed the deadline.

Sky Watch

So I’m down in the Quarter Friday afternoon to get a haircut, and I see this strange contraption on Bourbon Street.

NOPD Tower at Rest

What on earth is this thing? I wondered. Imagine my surprise when it unfolded rose up to a height of about two stories.

NOPD Tower

Given that it’s on Bourbon, you might expect this is some new way to get tourists drunk, but no. It’s a mobile surveillance tower for the New Orleans Police Department.

NOPD Sky Watch Booth

Apparently it’s called “Sky Watch.” (Thanks to boxchain who took a picture of it back in January where you can see the name.) Apparently NYPD has one.

I’m extremely skeptical. Granted, it is bizarre, and I’m a big fan of bizarre. But it also seems obnoxious, intrusive and ugly. I don’t see how it will really help much. It seems more like a shiny new toy that probably cost a bundle.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Front page of the paper this morning: Warren Riley’s mug and the headline, “Officials say city making headway against crime.” Apparently the superintendent and the mayor had a press conference on Friday to “reassure” us. I don’t feel reassured, and here’s why.

From the article:

At the news conference, evidence and numbers detailing any success resulting from the new initiatives were scant, except in the area of vehicle checkpoints.

Police are conducting traffic stops every night, Riley said. So far, the effort has produced more than 1,600 citations, 24 narcotics arrests and 35 arrests on outstanding warrants.

To date, 15 people have been murdered in the city this year. One of those homicides, the slaying of Jealina Brown, 22, has resulted in an arrest.

I’m not sure if that murder count includes the shooting of a Marrero man that took last night a few blocks from our home. But that’s not the number that got my attention. I noticed the 1,600 citations and the 35 arrests. I also noticed the numbers that aren’t there. There’s no breakdown on what those citations were for. There’s no breakdown on the nature of those arrests.

Anecdotally, I’m hearing about citations being issued at these checkpoints for minor violations like tinted windows, or even completely invented stuff. A friend of mine was issued a citation for an “open container” which he didn’t have. I suspect a good number of those 35 arrests are for things like outstanding traffic tickets. Pardon my skepticism, but I’ve learned that’s how we do things in Orleans Parish. Killers go free, but if you have an unpaid ticket you’ll go to prison.

Turning to the op-ed page, a letter to the editor from Steven Lindsley bears out the worst of my fears:

About a week after attending a rally at City Hall to protest violent crime in New Orleans, I was stopped by a patrol officer for having a suspended license. In spite of my explanation that this charge had been resolved by my attorney in November in Jefferson Parish, and that I was 64 years old and very tired from working 10 hours that day, I was ordered into a police car and taken to Central Lockup to be “fast-tracked” for a new court date.

I was searched and then put in a cage with over 50 other accused criminals. This holding pen had four wooden benches, a urinal and no place to sit for the 30-plus latecomers. Fifteen people had to lie on the concrete floor and the rest of us had to stand.

At 3 a.m., I was finally able to contact my wife to come bail me out, but it was not until 7:30 a.m. that I was released…

Is this an example of Police Chief Warren Riley’s program to crack down on crime in Orleans Parish?

If so, I will soon be putting my recently renovated home on the market and joining the long line of disaffected New Orleanians who have tired of the ineptitude, stupidity, rudeness, mismanagement and lack of effective leadership in the city.

Until I see numbers to the contrary, I continue to believe that checkpoints and traffic stops are an ineffective approach that only serves to alienate law-abiding citizens.

Daisy’s Story

My friend Daisy told me the following Katrina story. It’s a simple tale, but kind of chilling. I wanted to record it before I forget.

Daisy and her husband stayed through Katrina, and their Garden District apartment was relatively unscathed. They lost power, of course, and they heard about the looting at Wal-Mart but they weren’t too concerned.

Then Daisy went for a drive on some errand, and she saw a dead body. I think the man may have jumped or fallen from an overpass. The police were on the scene. It was disturbing, but Daisy still didn’t understand the chaos into which the city was descending.

A short time later, as she returned from her errand, she passed by the same spot. The body was still there. The police were gone.

An hour later, she and her husband evacuated the city.