August 26th: Diary of a Day

Vieux Carré Commission Architectural Committee: Habana Café

The preservation and NIMBY clubs are on the march today. No gladiatorial contests on at the arena, so I went along to City Hall to see some blood sport. First was Habana Outpost. VCPORA has generally seemed sort of played out recently, mumbling the same platitudes to decreasing audiences, appearing increasingly cranky and out of touch. But they played a major role in scuppering the last attempt to replace a rat’s nest with a nice restaurant at Esplanade and North Rampart, so they should be baying for the chase for the second round. Get ready for the full menu of VCPORA stuff – fake facts, non sequitur and Tout Ensemble until your eyes glaze over, with some possible menace from their chief counsel and crypto-boss, if he manages to stay out of the parish clink.

In a small, crowded room, not enough seating for all the attendees, many waiting for the case set for last. Maybe like me, some were not familiar with the procedures of the Architectural Commission, not knowing when it might come up, there much too early. Some print reporters and video crew were in early as well.

Lary Hesdorffer, Director of the VCC, sits on the committee, in the position that looks like the head of the table, but the Committee’s session is run from the center of the long side of the table by Nicholas Musso, a stocky, bearded architect with a strong voice, decisive manner and huge credentials. On top of the briefs and drawings before they are projected on the screen, Mr Musso knows everything and has little patience for waffle.

The first thing I learned was that architecture is complicated and these guys know a lot. The staff sit in a row of three behind Director Hesdorffer and each case is introduced by a well-written summary with relevant detail by staffer Sarah Ripple, while plans and photos of the relevant property are projected onto a screen.

Some of the cases were fun to watch, and interesting. A highlight was an appeal for 35 more street level antennae for mobile phones. Mr Musso did not mind the design of the antennae, but did we need so many of them? There were already about 24. Couldn’t they be combined? No, said the technicians. To handle the traffic, it was this or towers. The discussion went to all the stuff that is in the street. Isn’t the space just filling up, with traffic and parking signs, street lamps, bike parking, horse head posts, gallery columns – vertical stuff everywhere. In the end, they gave the plan conditional approval, with a great summation from Nicholas Musso: “First you said you needed 12, then you came back to double that, now you want 35 more, and the streets are filling up. My advice: give it a few years before you come back again. I might not be here, so you might have a chance.”

Another was probably the fastest case. Represented by Justin Schmidt, the land use lawyer who got most of the T-shirt shops through the VCPORA sniper fire. Schmidt took his seat at the table opposite Musso, Sarah stood and described the case clearly, finishing with the staff’s recommendation that the file was well prepared, they had no objections and suggested approval. Mr Musso made a motion for approval, someone seconded, everybody said “Aye.” Done, but it didn’t feel quite finished. Too easy. So Musso turned to Justin Schmidt. “Any comments.” Schmidt gave it a beat for tension. “Thank you.” Picked up his briefcase and off. Perfect. A play in under a minute.

Finally, Habana Outpost, now branded Habana Cafe, is up. That’s what the cameras and the newspapers are here for. The Commission called for a brief recess, more news crews show up, they get their microphones on the table and lenses adjusted. Sarah tells the room that the session is public and interested parties may comment, remarks should be limited to two minutes, please don’t blurt out, interrupt or start fights. She also reminded us that the Commission’s purview is architecture and design not land use.

Sean Meenan, CEO of the Habana restaurant group, took the applicant’s place with a pair of colleagues. Sarah read the case with her usual clarity of voice and description, and rounded off with the staff’s very clear recommendation for approval.

The slide show had some great shots of the old gas station at Esplanade and N. Rampart, said to have been built circa 1925. The best one had mid-50s cars – tail fins and one of those Fords with the metal convertible top. What was not emphasized was the current state of the corner, now that the gas station and commercial building have been abandoned to decay for about 40 years.

I guess you will not be surprised that the first public comment was Ms Meg Lousteau. She had been there through the session, mostly plotting and planning with a laptop and co-conspirators in the outer room. (I don’t really know that Meg was engaged in Byzantine scheming, but it is a better image than thinking she was just checking her Facebook, and given VCPORA’s flexible way with facts, I’m sure they won’t object to a little imagination,)
I was a bit surprised at her comments, though, which were not strident objection, but rather resigned, possibly affected by the unambiguous positive statement of the VCC team. Meg said they had not had a chance to review the most recent plans, only the ones on the internet. VCPORA’s newsletter of just a few days ago said she had reviewed the plans, and the internet views did not look to me different from the renderings on the screen except perhaps with less detail. The relevance was also not obvious. It was clear that the staff and the Architectural Commissioners work at a professional level. Amateur fussing from VCPORA was unlikely to shake their determinations.

She questioned combining three parcels into one entity because the quaint character and all that. I don’t think this argument holds any water; many commercial properties in the FQ, including ones just a few yards away on Esplanade, are larger than the Habana Cafe will be. One of the longer cases earlier concerned conversion of the former Maison Hospitalière into apartments. It is made up of several different properties, even fronting on to different streets. I don’t know whether decision is a matter for the Architectural Committee in any case. She expressed concern about a brick wall which was low, so people might step over it. (I am still wondering what difference that could make to anyone except the restaurant itself.) She mentioned the tout ensemble, VCPORA’s bumper sticker, for some reason. I guess she thinks a nice restaurant is less in keeping with the “historic gem” than a rat trap of an old gas station, empty and abandoned for 40 years. She expressed concern about the number of people that could be seated or, God forbid, stand, which in the objectors’ view, is potentially greater than the population of New Orleans.

And that was pretty much it. What’s going on here? Is our Meg not feeling well? Where’s the old fire and brimstone? I have been standing in a hot, crowded room for almost two hours to see blood on the table, and if nobody stood up for the restaurant after a parade of pious objectors trying to destroy the proposal, I was going to stride forward and with oratory worthy of Cicero . . . well, I would think of something. Probably question whether the ghost of tout ensemble past would prefer the crumbling old relic to a fun restaurant.

Another objector who said he was speaking on behalf of the immediate neighbors expressed concern about the sound that would come from the refrigeration, probably including the air conditioning. He tried to rouse some passion with a description of the Brooklyn Habana Outpost, but I suspect the audience reaction was if anything the opposite of what he hoped for. It is of course irrelevant anyway. What is relevant is what is under review today, not another site in New York.

And that, my friends, was it. It was so clear that the plan was going to pass the Architecture Committee that if others had planned to object or support, they just let it go. Motion, second, unanimous Ayes, and it was time for Sean Meenan to be interviewed for TV.

He is good at that. He said he intends his restaurants to be good for New Orleans, that living here here now with his family, he knows the city better, and that everybody is entitled to their opinion. VCPORA is entitled to their opinion. But Habana Cafe will be good for us.

Well done.

PostScript
Afterward, preservation and residents’ groups said they were “stunned” by the decision. That’s a bunch of groups coming up with the same word. It is also not true. VCC had passed the Habana restaurant before, in a more challenging design. And besides, I watched them. They weren’t stunned. They knew it was coming. Their protestations presumed conditional approval, and the chance that a few amateurs would change the staff’s and Musso’s recommendation were less than slim. I’ll even venture a speculation: the “stunned” quotes in their PR stuff were scripted in advance.

“What we continue to fail to understand,” said René Fransen, a spokesman for the “preservation” lobby (I would say, almost everything) is why Meenan wants to build a restaurant like this instead of a little one, which would suit Fransen better. It is simple, of course, and everybody else understands it. Habana has a business model, and people like it. That is why they go to them. That is why the overwhelming majority want the restaurant, not a crumbling rat’s nest.

They said chain restaurants are illegal in the French Quarter. I had asked Lary Hesdorffer about that a few months ago. He said it was not true. Urban legend. FQ has rules against take-away and paper plate restaurants, not against companies. McDonalds could open a restaurant if they agreed to all the rules – sit-down, ceramic plates, conforming signage, etc.

The anti-groups were also “stunned” that the Architectural Committee gave “only cursory review” to the new drawings. Where do they get that from? The Committee’s staff are pros that do this all the time. They know this is a contested issue; they prepared and presented their report. Nicholas Musso designs restaurants professionally in his architecture practice, as well as teaching the subject in universities. He can see more in an architectural rendering in a few seconds than amateurs in whole table-banging meetings.

They went on being stunned about things irrelevant – zoning and points of land law. Those were not in the brief of the Architecture Committee, as Sarah Ripple had carefully explained. If you see these comments from those of the Hoodie Persuasion, just file them under B for Blowing Smoke. The VCC made no comment on those points. Concept Approval is stage one, not the whole story.

 

The Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance

Then down the elevator to the first Q&A in the series on the CZO. Like Habana Outpost, not as lively as expected. I guess council hall was about a quarter full. I am going to speculate that many people have things to say about this massive nightmare of a bad idea, but it just feels hopeless. The CPC and a lot of Kool-Aid lovers believe in this stuff like the islanders believe in the Cargo To Come, just as fervently, just as fictionally.

It might also be they have decided to reserve their ardor for the second session, or a grand set piece for the third. Several whose names were called said the would prefer to change to next time, so maybe this was just a warmup round.

The first critics were young men (they happened to be men) involved in microbrewing. They made a very sound point. Trends and activities not imagined in the CZO would be blocked, banned and sent to Metairie by this misconceived sorting plan that presumes to know the future. Or worse. So they put their finger right on the poison sac: the CZO and Master Plan are there to stop history and fill in the chocolate box to fit the vision of the current haute bourgeoisie and general Babbittry, yeah unto the seventh generation and for all eternity.

A very refreshing woman took the stand to argue for the 75 instead of 50 foot height limit in Bywater, because there are no views of the river. One of the sillier things occasionally heard in zoning is that high buildings block views of the river. But the Mississippi levees are higher than the houses, so there are no views of the river until you get on top of the levee. She said the only high building in Bywater is the Rice Mill. We need more 75 foot buildings, with bars and cafes on top, so people can sit back with a glass of wine and watch the traffic on the river. Sounds good to me.

Then came a series of height-phobics. I don’t get this in preservationist-afflicted America. What is so bad about building height? What is so wrong about diversity and an interesting skyline?What is so great about uniformity of height in residential areas? Why do they have to be just residential districts, which is a backward and boring idea anyway, as design and planning trend toward mixed use? Some of them call it “walkable.” Huh? Where do people walk the most, possibly a reason why their obesity quotient seems a little lower? New York.

Height phobia has held back the Perez project for Holy Cross, which would do a lot to help that neighborhood. I suspect the good burghers of the Neighborhood Association, who moved there to indulge Historic fantasies, are the animators of the obstruction, with assistance from neo-preservationists like Louisiana Landmarks.

There was a fine appearance by the mayor’s sister Shelley, professional administrator of Garden District Association, who had some plan to link up neighborhood associations including Garden District and Lafayette Square, I think. Sounds like a Republican conspiracy to me, suspicious for a family of professional Democrats. But here in NOLA, we have Republican Democrats as well as the regular kind. Ms Landrieu objected to a proposed reduced lot size. The property value junkies never like that, Smaller lots mean smaller houses which might mean . . . . People Not Like US! We can’t have that. No, no. The purpose of the CZO is rising house prices forever. Don’t forget who the Master Plan is written for: aspiring Masters. At least Ms Landrieu is relatively transparent and honest about what she wants for Garden and the others – us not them. Not an admirable objective, but the clarity is refreshing.

I have just seen a legal study showing that Tipitina’s would be illegal under the new CZO. So would BJ’s and Vaughan’s in Bywater, and probably J&J’s sport bar as well.

In fact, much of what makes New Orleans worth living in would be illegal. The CZO and the Master’s Plan are for designing a city for Corporate Man with commutable servants’ quarters.

The spirit that made New Orleans what it is will move on, to Austin or Portland or Berlin, and the Gentrification Mardi Gras will move to the time of a metronome between barriers supervised by QoL cops with sound meters. We will stay in the house, pay higher air con bills, and give up on street life. The Street will live on in the Servants Quarters, but Quality of Life will mean arrest for playing a violin or having a conversation in a public right of way downtown or on Magazine. Goodbye, New Orleans. It was nice knowing you.

Not really much speaking going on this afternoon. The MC called Meg Lousteau’s name several times, but she wasn’t there. What? Our tour guide of the land of No! had gone home. The last time an audience member called out, “How many cards did she put in”? “Four.” Funny.

The height phobia victims were thanking the fine folk of the CPC for their great good work. Feelgood time at the podium. What good would it do for me to stand up and say: “This document is a burp out of the gaseous guts of hell. Push “Delete,” and sue the consultants to get the money back they charged you for a mess of Kool Aid.”

And let us see in handcuffs the one who wrote in several places:

” . . . maintain a desirable character of such development.”

Name and shame.

Don’t they even see themselves clearly enough to want to conceal the classism? Desirable to whom? To CM Head or Meg Lousteau, Commissars of the Preservationist fantasy? To Mr Motwani, or to Louisiana Landmarks, or perhaps to a committee of three guys in the Orleans Parish hoosegow who can’t make bail on a charge by the Smokeys for some useless minor drug bust on an unwarranted car search? They must really want to make sure that development in the Historic Marigny is desirable.

 

Preservationism is generally shorthand for Historical Preservationism. Dropping the first word might be indicative, because the preservationism I see in City Hall today generally seems to be un-historical, or more accurately, anti-historical

History means: what happened? Why and how?

VCPORA Preservationism is meant to stop things from happening. They take the red blood out of history. I laugh at them a lot, and they richly deserve it for their distorting approach to facts, re-molding truth to fit their little vision. But I am not mocking real preservationism. At some level, I am probably more preservationist than they are. History includes the clash and clatter and clutter of real life. Life is a million movies, not an old snapshot.

Cautioning about Habana Cafe, Meg brought up their tout ensemble.

Well, she would, wouldn’t she!

Come on, don’t laugh! Tout ensemble is the VCPORA trade mark. The space you can make it all up in. The tout ensemble is a multi functional loophole. Without a judicial interpretation by Justice Roberts on the afternoons he is allowed out, we can tell what the people that put it in meant. Not only should a building or its architectural details meet the standards of historicity, but it should “fit” the neighborhood. So when you decide something doesn’t fit the way you like the neighborhood to be, you send it back up the pipe the wrong way, and you prove by preservation algebra that it must be unhistoric.

These fantasies and the weird height fetish might soon be responsible for some of the most boring cityscapes real urban folk could ever hope to fall asleep in.

The tout ensemble has a time dimension as well.

Did they mean the tout ensemble in 1936, when. The expression was written in the law? Or maybe 1968 – that was a fine year. Or the 90s, when the FQ was supposed to be a pretty lively place. More fun than now, that the gentrification started back in the 1920s has gelled into quite the lace doily neighborhood. Or is the tout ensemble as it is right now the definitive one? This is what Adrien de Pauger had in mind the whole time, so now it must not change.

Fortunately for Habana Outpost, Nicholas Musso and the Architectural Committee have a much more robust idea of what historical really means than VCPORA does. But it still has to survive zoning and maybe the Council. We have been expecting this council to be less goofy than the last one, but you can’t always tell.

 

 

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Great Police Article

I just read an article in Counterpunch on militarized and intimidation policing so good, I am just going to re-print it.

I am going to become an old nag on the subject of the quality of police work and especially their interaction with people and communities. It should be a concern especially now, while NOPD numbers are down, the administration is pushing questionable solutions and so many people concerned about security and recruitment, they are turning a blind eye to what bad police work can do to us. They look at Ferguson, but don’t think it is relevant to us. It is.

We have seen security panic lead to the erosion of civil rights and liberties at the national level, leading to a securitization of the economy, attaks against civil liberties internally and increased aggression internationally. Some of it stirs up more violent reprisal – think of ISIS. And now think about what the internal analogue can look like. We just saw a sample of it, in Ferguson MO.

 

AUGUST 27, 2014
A Warning
The Latin Americanization of U.S. Police Forces
by COSME CAAL
Guatemala City.

From Guatemala City I have been keeping up with the events in Ferguson, Missouri and my heart goes out to those United States citizens who are actively resisting a brutal local police state. I sit awake at night and contemplate how one of the greatest nations in the world has become militarized and despotic. Impunity is now normalized in most police departments across the United States and in the minds of many Americans. I did not know I would live to see this phenomenon, yet, the more I peruse online news feeds, the more evident it is to me that Americans, especially minorities, are in great danger of militarized suppression as a matter of state policy.

From our experience in half a century in Latin America I can tell you that, once the human rights of a minority are compromised, it is only a matter of time before they are compromised for an entire nation. From that same experience I can tell you it will take decades before they can be regained. Militarized police forces take on a life of their down, at the expense of the society’s well-being. The social contract that gives the state the duty to organize police forces itself becomes obsolete, almost a joke. Citizens begin to obey agents of the state not out of respect or cooperation, but out of fear of those sworn to protect them. Eventually, the militarized power of the police reaches such magnitude that political leaders lose all ability to rein them in. We experienced this USA-backed militarized transformation of the police in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, and Colombia. What the U.S. helped do to Latin America, it is now doing to itself.

Even when there will officers who want to adhere to the law, militarized policing organizations become an unstoppable and despotic force. The very ideologies that give them life become obsolete, as do all existing laws that protect citizens. Central American dictatorships backed and armed by the United States government in the 1970’s built police forces, outfitted them with military gear, and allowed them to brutalize and kill with impunity. The murder or incarceration of progressive democratic leaders who resisted this transformation was sanctioned by United States intelligence agencies.

I call out to white United States citizens, and those police officers that believe in democracy and the rule of law, to unite with racial minorities who are now being suppressed, and to resist the catastrophic militarization of police forces across the United States. For white Americans to think that their race makes them immune to police brutality is a mistake that cannot be afforded. Central American urban mestizo masses ignored the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples. They saw these massacres as not their problem. Today we all suffer militarized suppression. Racial division was our greatest weakness.

We must not shy away from the reality of a racialized United States of America. We must face our racial diversity, embrace its beauty, and unite as one democratic and leading nation. We are not divided at heart or by nature. Media pundits play with our emotions by telling divisive stories of racial conflict. Recently they have trained many white Americans to fear Central Americans who have courageously made it to our borders, escaping undeclared and unstoppable internal conflicts. These are murderous conflicts born out of the very militarization of Central American nation-states by the United States. In Guatemala alone more than 800,000 citizens have been murdered since the peace accords were signed in 1996, after a thirty-six year internal militarized conflict.

But militarized police are not the only problem. Since the 1980’s, government, from Washington D.C. to the states and cities, has been poisoned with inept and cynical politicians who play a racist card to keep Americans divided. And this is a necessary part of a militarized state equation. In fact, 21st century United States politics follows a developing path in place in much of Latin America for half a century. I call it the Latinamericanization of the United States. This path includes politicians selling society to the highest bidder, eradicating laws that protect civilians against poverty, disease, job insecurity, and police brutality.

In Guatemala, for example, politicians have no economic or politics training, or educational experience to hold powerful and influential government office. Social breakdown is such that the average citizen is in danger of death by warring gangs, extortion mafias, or the police. Politicians have carved out the legislative and executive branches in such a way that the military and the police state serves their safety, and that of their families and friends. The police also guard the great fortunes and economic interests. Everyone else must suffer insecurity, poverty, prison, and sometimes, random death. Protests are now officially terrorist acts. Meanwhile the United States continues to provide weapons and military training to these Guatemalan elites.

We can no longer argue that the United States is a country where civil liberties and human rights are protected. While an elite class remains immune to political and police corruption and militarization, this does not hold truth for the majority.

Part of my family escaped to the United States in the 1980’s. We escaped Guatemala’s poverty, racism, and a raging internal conflict, in hopes of a better life. Our story is not new; it is the same story told millions of times over in the last two centuries by earlier migrants. We ended up in Los Angeles, California. I was blessed with my mother’s support to educate myself while she toiled away in underpaid jobs. That did not matter to her. It did not matter to me. We Mayans have been toiling at staying alive for the last five centuries. We are the continuation of that struggle for survival.

I was taught to love the United States by my teachers, and to work hard to contribute to a nation that held so much promise. I did. With great effort and dedication I became a sociologist and historian. I wanted to understand the social fabric that sustains us as Americans and sustains me as a survivor of genocide.

Although pockmarked with racism, my experience in graduate school was one of support by white professors, fellow graduate students, and my beloved students. I learned to have hope in the white American society. I strove to teach my students to understand and take advantage of their privilege to help us make of the United States a better racial democracy.

But living in South Los Angeles in the last decade also revealed to me the parallels of militarized Latin America to many pockets of the United States, and it gave me front row seat to observe the fast militarization of police departments in the United States. African Americans and Latin@s are on lock down in that part of Los Angeles. LAPD will kill anyone in South LA with impunity. Their impunity is now part of the Californian political structure, just as in Latin America. No overseeing agency, citizen watchdog or Californian political coalition can realistically reform the LAPD. For decades people have been suffering. The LA riots of 1992 were an example of that suffering.

In the Rampart scandal police officers sworn to crack down on gangs became a murderous gang themselves. This is a familiar pattern seen across Latin America, where police forces were encouraged to take on tougher tactics to combat the products of mass poverty and severe inequality. Extortion mafias now have Guatemala and El Salvador societies on their knees. Their militarized police forces are riddled with corruption, ineptitude, and seemingly ubiquitous violence. Violence is everywhere. America seems to be heading this way.

Let us not think we will not experience this in the United States. The footage from Ferguson shows the frightening militarization of police officers, playing war against civil society. They will not stop. The governor of Missouri will not stop them. Perhaps he can’t.

I call out to all white Americans, to unite with suppressed minorities who are incarcerated daily, killed in the streets, and who hold little political power against these militarized police forces. It is in their utmost interest to understand that, just as in Latin America, when the white peoples, the mestizos of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, stood aside as indigenous peoples were massacred, subjugation for all is certain once militarized monsters awaken, learn to walk, and find their own developmental path.

 

 

Cosme Caal is a community activist and scholar from the Americas. His interests include political mobilization of Mayans in Guatemala and Los Angeles, and the Pachakutik indigenous political organization in the Andean region.

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Laws of shame, and more police

 

The ankle biters that are sucking the life out of this city, trying to gentrify us into a lace doily suburb, are out of their cage again. I understand this little respectability nightmare is up in City Council tomorrow.

http://cityofno.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&event_id=450&meta_id=251838

NOLAscape says: oppose this thing. Civilly disobey it if it passes. We can do better than regulations as disgracefully classist, as needless and intrusive in the life of a city as this. It has the whiff of death about it.

What is wrong with people, that they need to regulate and control and organize people just walking around, living their lives? And empower selling stuff, but under control, of course, under supervision of the fools who support this; while proscribing music and basketball. Why is junk for sale better than a game or music?

New Orleans is not an army base, for gods sake. It’s supposed to be a live city!

Regulation of sign writing. Who is going to enforce this stupidity? The police we don’t have can take some time off from riding around in cars, not meeting their constituents, and from heavy handed stops to threaten and bully people, so they can measure some signs and check the colors of the chalk. Or do you want Munster’s Safety and Permits to do it, so we can have another eight month chalkboard trial in 20 years?

Somebody has lost the plot.

This ordinance is a disgrace that we should all be ashamed of. Who proposed it? The usual busybodies, or the Ferguson police?

Let’s block this horror.

Jaywalking
I just got a message: somebody wants us to have a jaywalking law as well.

A jaywalking law!

Like Savannah, Georgia. Like Los Angeles. Like Ferrguson MO, where jaywalking has been a capital crime.

Let’s be more like Ferguson, MO. That’s a great direction for the city.

In another article, I might try to show how backward and counterproductive an inner-city jaywalking law is – a result of experience our wide-eyed city planners, so full of their pompous selves, might not grasp for a decade or two.

Intimidation policing

I was going to give humiliation policing a break for a few weeks. It struck me as a major, serious topic a few weeks ago, after Shammar Allen was stopped and pushed around and dropped by the Staties in Holy Cross a few weeks ago. One serious enough to undermine the character of NOLA scape, because it is hard to be funny about. But then came Ferguson and Michael Brown, and the full horror of intimidation policing on our screens every day, and the cops’ Fallujah-style response. Show ’em who’s boss! Protest, my ass! We can kill people who are big and don’t listen to us if we want. That’s a capital crime, jaywalking plus not kissing a cop’s ass in the acceptable way. At the same time. Double felony.

And they haven’t given it up yet:

http://youtu.be/3AFia3Uo0TQ

I see a report that this guy, still threatening to kill people today has been relieved; but if a cop could do that after all these days of protest and national and international opprobrium, it shows there are diseased minds out there in law enforcement. Were these the kids who got bullied in the schoolyard at lunch time?

I was going to give it a break, because the news is so full of it, with graphic horror every day, showing the shame of this deeply stupid town, that we surely would not want to look like.

But I spent a chunk of this hot afternoon on a porch with a friend, and his friend. On a porch in the heat, in the tradition. And I learned some stuff. Or at least learned how real some of it was.

He said of Shammar’s bust, “Shammar backed away. He backed away! You never back away. They are going to put you down if you do that.”

What?!? I am getting a look into the survival skills of a black male on the streets of New Orleans. Like the cops are predators. A hunter in the savannah or the jungle had to know the habits of lions and tigers to survive. A black guy in NO needs cop skills to keep from being beaten or shot.

My friend is mid-40s, respectable enough. Not a criminal, not a drug dealer. We would have been drinking better beer if he was.

“Has it happened to you?”

“More times than I could even remember. Like every black guy who grew up in New Orleans. It happens to you and you see it. Police stopping people, stopping you, for nothing, bullying, threatening.”

“Do they physically push you around?”

“Yeah. All the time. Usually over the hood of a car. Last time I got stopped, I got hit in the mouth with a flashlight.”

“Where was that?”

“Right here – just over there,” indicating a bit away from his house, the porch we were sitting on.

I said, “Until this crap stops, there is never going to be any trust or social integration, and the conditions for violence and crime just endlessly reproduces itself.”

He said, “It’s worse than that. The cops out in Central and Mid City, they just ride around in police cars. The don’t meet people except in confrontation, with threats and their hand on a gun.”

I said, “So it goes on – the people see shooting, crime, but won’t say because they don’t trust the police because of the heavy handed stuff.”

“It’s more than that.”

Looks like I am a naive cynic.

“Those women sitting on the porches, they see everything. Including having seen the cops driving around the neighborhoods in their own cars – BMWs and Mercedes. They know what police salaries were. Where do they get that money? So they are not about to inform on some drug guy because they don’t trust the cop not to be working for him. They don’t know where that money comes from, but they know it don’t come from police pay. Then the cop will go home to a warm house, and who can say what intimidation the family of that woman on the porch will be subjected to if they say anything, between the arrest and the trial, and after.”

To all my friends who think we just need more police: we need a lot more than just more recruits.

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More T-Shirt Twitchery – a NOLAscape Quickie

 

We and others are having our honesty indirectly challenged. By VCPORA, of all people. Talk about pots and kettles!

In my experience, VCPORA has never acknowledged or retracted an inaccurate statement or apologized for misleading.

Our policy is the opposite: we acknowledge any factual error or disproved conclusion immediately.

I have just heard the third bit of feedback since Monday that the high-table VCPORAns are denying that VCPORA provided lists of T-shirt shops to S&P. Now, that is an attempted kick in the credibility of NOLAscape, among others.

So let’s deal with this.

The soft news is that VCPORAns told me they did. The conversation was months ago, not recorded, and finding witnesses who would go public about remembering would hover between unrealistically time consuming and impossible, so just put that down to my saying so, uncorroborated.

The hard news is on video. Housing and Human Needs Committee session, 16 September 2013:  http://cityofno.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=162

At time 1:27 on the slider, Meg Lousteau’s presentation about “illegal” T-shirt shops begins, including photos, charts and lists. It could be said that this is a presentation for council, not providing information directly to Safety and Permits so let’s tighten it up.

Fast forward with the slider to 1:44:30, when Jared Munster, director of S&P takes the mic and tells the room and the camera about his reviews of the lists provided by VCPORA.

In the BZA hearings, Carol Allen, President of VCPORA, took the podium at one point to deny that VCPORA has been acting as the T-Shirt police. BZA sessions are not recorded, so I cannot check the actual words.

Essentially, VCPORA/FQC are just nice, friendly, well-meaning folks. S&P are the prosecutors.

But Michael Martin, effectively acting as prosecutor, said every time he took the mic, “Michael Martin . . . for VCPORA/French Quarter Citizens.”

Not for S&P. For VCPORA/French Quarter Citizens.”

I don’t know – after the 20th or 30th time, I kind of take that as a clue. Don’t you?

Safety & Permits, a city department, was the formal accuser that charged the T-Shirt shops with illegal activity, but beyond that, they hardly said a word. The arguments were all Michael Martin for VCPORA/FQC, a private club, with some occasional backstopping by Meg.

I don’t know what is going on in the watchzombie imagination. We hear they are livid about losing, saying in effect they “got screwed” (may not be their words).

No, they didn’t. The Grandfather Clause or Acquisitive Prescription is quite clear. If a shop conducts a non-conforming business for ten years without a break of six months, it becomes a legal non-conforming use. Legal – the operative word. So if a shop starts being a “T-shirt shop” in 1985 without a break of six months, in 1995 it is legal.

Martin tried to make the case that if any business document used a form of words different than the name of the non-conforming use, the legal status lapsed, despite the unvarying business model and merchandise. It was always a stretcher, never accurate. Martin frequently referred to a state law that he said supported his idea, but never mentioned that that law passed in 2007 specifically says it cannot be applied retroactively.

So the argument that if your tax form said dress shop, you had cancelled your own legal status was a good college try; but tax forms don’t change land use. It was never right and the BZA rightly didn’t buy it.

A NOLAscape legal analogy, which you can take to the bank: If Internal Revenue gets your address wrong on a form, or you get it wrong, would the deed to your house thereby become invalid?

QED. (Maybe.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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T-Shirt Day at the BZA

 

The T-shirt wars are great fun.

Not because of some essential civic importance. Had the watchdoggies’ assault succeeded, there would be a few more empty shops in the French Quarter, a few hundred more unemployed. Some of the empty shops would become bars or daiquiri shops. A few might re-open under various categories, transmute over time into T-shirt shops. and things would settle back to normal. Some might stay empty a while, and some might become what the attackers might want to see: dry cleaners, cheese shops, handicrafts, boutiques. If any really opened, they would almost certainly go quickly broke because of high rents and gentrification and other changes having reduced the resident population, and the remaining tranche tending toward Wholefoods and Rouses.

T-shirt wars are fun because they are part of our local version of the Clash of Civilizations. The New and the Old, the Idealists and the Realists. Who is good, who is bad, or are there good and bad in all the camps?

The Board of Zoning Adjustments made some right decisions today on the T-shirt shop cases that have been ricocheting around since VCPORA launched the latest T-shirt witch hunt, a recurring New Orleans phenomenon, on that fateful day, September 16th, 2013. New Orleans does love a good T-shirt witch hunt. And of course, given the Preservationists’ sometimes comical relationship to unintended consequences, it is not always clear who is the fox and who the hounds.

You can watch the opening ceremony in living color: http://cityofno.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=1627.

Don’t be misled by Meg’s presentation, though. VCPORA is not responsible. President Carol Allen clarified that this afternoon, standing up before the BZA, so we should all be aware: VCPORA is NOT the T-shirt police! Just NOT, and stop thinking that! Meg’s T-shirt presentation was just a response to a request from the old council, the Clarkson circus – remember them? – to check things out.

Do NOT be misled by Meg’s presentation on September 16th, in which Stacy Head (still President of Council; I better be careful here), Kristin Palmer and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell got a bit over-excited, ganged up on poor old Jared Munster, PhD. “Off with their heads! I mean their electricity!” snarled CM Cynthia. Stacy tried to keep silent, but that Harvard law degree, you know – hard to keep it in the drawer. Due process, she admitted, must be observed. A temporary reprieve for beleaguered Safety and Permits.

The fact that leading VCPORAns identified the target shops for Council and then for S&P, and that the lawyer acting as prosecutor, Michael Martin, represents VCPORA/FQC – do not be misled by these apparent facts. These are just details. They do not, they just do not place Meg on the lead horse dressed in her Joan of Arc suit. It is all a misunderstanding, and we, my friends, are the misunderstanders.

I think the way this plays is, if it goes well for them, the neighborhood clubs take the credit; when it cocks up, poor Jared, PhD, carries the can.

People that have kept a beady eye on VCPORA for years say it is a standard MO. They start things, stir the pot, stoke the flames, but responsibility – oh no, not us. We are just good natured folks, benignly watchdogging.

The centerpiece stores of these recent Salem sessions have been the Khan family business shops on Bourbon and Decatur. The cases were quite interesting. Not really for inherent interest in the shops – they are generally utilitarian souvenir and T-shirt shops, part of the tourist economy, well managed, compliant with VCC requirements. Decent commercial citizens. I hope they do great business and offer employment to lots of people. I know the Khan family is proud that they serve as incubators to help new immigrants get into New Orleans life and business.

The dramatic interest has mostly been the tactical play of the lawyers, Justin Schmidt for the Khan shops, Michael Martin for for the clubs.

The cases started in January. Mr Schmidt must have thought his advantage lay in delay, and he worked out a Good Trick. It all hinges on the grandfather clause, formally Acquisitive Prescription, under which if you have been doing a business which does not conform to zoning for ten years without getting shut down, you have the right to continue. The business must be continuous. If you break for six months, Grandad’s gone.

Schmidt said he needed documents in the City’s possession to prove his case, that the Khan stores had been selling the merchandise which is now characterized as a T-shirt shop since 1984 at some of the addresses. But the City could not produce the documents. Katrina and all that. In boxes in storage, too expensive to search. So Mr Schmidt was exhausting the enemy with records requests and extensions when they were not forthcoming, in January, February and onward . . . and here we finally are.

While that went on, Mr Martin cited recent documents. Shop X is clearly a T-shirt shop, but on its IRS form, it says “women’s clothing” and on the occupational license form they wrote “car parts” or “crystal meth dealer.” Kidding about the last one, but you get the picture. Documentary inconsistency. Since the form said something other than T-shirt, that meant the shop had broken its continuity, and was now an illegal T-shirt shop instead of a legal one.

Martin justified this by a novel theory. I wonder if he thought it up himself. VCPORA’s official attorney is normally SmithStag. Martin’s theory has the whiff of brimstone we sometimes associate with SmithStag switchbacks and plausible non-sequitur. And Meg Lousteau is pretty crafty and usually ready to bend logic to the cracking point. Maybe all three. Double, double, toil and trouble . . . .

It seemed to say, if I got it right, that even if a shop had been a T-shirt shop since 1984, if it entered “women’s clothing” or “general merchandise” on any of the many forms businesses regularly have to send to various offices of government, some of which come with the category already filled in, and the departments do not all use the same category designations, that meant acquisitive prescription had been broken and “legal non-conforming” use was abrogated, despite the fact that the business had never changed.

Meg Lousteau got into legal philosophy today, saying to the BZA, it is like a driving license. The burden is on the individual to give the right information. If I put the wrong name on my application, it is up to me to put it right, or I am in violation. If a clerical mixup puts my description as a 200 lb. male, it is up to me to have that corrected.

Mr Schmidt might have said, no, that does not hold water, because even if the form says Meg is a 300 lb Maori Sumo wrestler, it is just the form that is wrong. Meg is still Meg, who fights on a different mat, and the Sumo wrestler . . . well, we don’t know what happened to him in the end.

In an interesting interlude, Jared Munster, panjandrum of S&P, who declines to talk to us or answer questions, said he resents being characterized as a lackey of VCPORA. He is a high official acting in pursuit of his sacred duties, and the fact that pretty much all of his T-shirt shop decisions, which corresponded only coincidentally to VCPORA’s wishes, have been overturned should not be misinterpreted to mean . . . anything at all, really.

S&P seemed at last to be getting the hang of the set of uneasily reconcilable T-shirt laws they are supposed to be enforcing. Back when they were bugging Ed Azemas with some Kafka-esque lunacy, they had come up with the notion of “illegal merchandise.” They did not mean crack or stolen jewelry. They meant T-shirts which had the words “New Orleans” printed on them. One of the BZA members asked Munster some pointed questions: what if the shirt has a collar. Is it a T-shirt? What if it is a dress? The determining factor would be whether it said “New Orleans,” replies the director. What if it was made in New Orleans? What if it has a picture of New Orleans? Mr Munster, PhD, said, it depends on how much of the inventory consists of items saying New Orleans. The BZA asked, What percentage exactly is that? Well, says Dr M., it is not stated, but we generally think around 50%. Have you counted all the items and determined exactly what percentage you could call souvenirs? Is it based on number of items or retail value? Well, says the good Doctor, it is more whether the main attraction of the shop is items saying New Orleans. That is why Walgreens, who sell thousands of them, has not been cited.

So T-shirts really means souvenirs, and it is not the merchandise it is the shop, and the city of New Orleans in its Vieux Carre incarnation does not want people to sell things that say New Orleans, or Mardi Gras, or the Saints, or lots of other things that are the reasons people come here. Unless the shops who sell them were there before some new owners want to open competing shops, or are at least 600 feet apart, which just happens to be the approximate distance between a lot of the shops of the company who had T-shirt shops before that law was passed. Purely coincidence, I am sure. So the law is . . . . you know.

Let’s get back to the case before it is too late. That is more or less what Mr Schmidt did say. If the shop was a T-shirt shop since 1984, and was still in the same business, then that is what it is, regardless of other departments’ forms, and Grandad is 30. I suspect that since he had started with a tactical play on documents, he might have had to go the long way around the simplest play, the juicy quicksand of which I tried to get the BZA and the lawyers to step into, but they sidled away.

Martin and Meg were referring to a state law that says the Grandfather countdown begins when the city is officially informed of the non-conforming use. That is not the original intention of the zoning enforcement limitation, which was that if a business is non-conforming but continues a certain amount of time while the city has not enforced the restriction, it may continue. It is like a statute of limitations. Personally, I think the law might fall over given a reasonable challenge, because it is a bit like saying the statute of limitations on a burglary starts its countdown only after the burglar signs a confession. It lets the government off of every hook. On the other hand, that’s what government folk keep doing, letting themselves off hooks, so maybe it will stick.

What they consistently avoided saying is that the new law passed in the summer of 2007, and specifically says it may not be applied retroactively. Therefore, ipso facto, cogito ergo sum, it applies only to businesses started after the law was passed, not before.

These cases are about land use, and as Mr Schmidt pointed out, land use stays with the land; it does not move with the owner, so when a business is sold, the use, conforming or non-conforming is still there.

Therefore (I am mentally raising my forefinger now to make the telling point) documentary fiddling cannot affect the land use status of a business started and operating continuously since 1984, or 1990, or the first half of 2004, at least until the questionable adjustment of 2007. If other forms for other agencies contain inaccurate descriptions, that must be the concern of the agency involved, like Meg’s Sumo license, but it does not change the land use, which is the BZA’s area of judgment.

Justin Schmidt seems pretty sharp. I suspect he may have avoided this simplification because having based seven months of continuance on the importance of documents, suddenly saying they have nothing to do with it might annoy the BZA. He probably enjoyed annoying Meg Lousteau, Michael Martin and Carol Allen, but would prefer the good will of the BZA.

But today was the day.

The T-shirt shops won, as they should under the law. The witch hunt ended with witches undunked, bonfires barely smoking, stakes unburnt, and a nice lunch. VCPORA goes home to consult Torquemada on Retail Management in preparation for the next round.

So there you have another faux-preservationist contribution to the tout ensemble, a merry chase around the mulberry bush, from September 16th, 2013 to August 11th, 2014.

8/12/14

(c) 2014 Nolascape.org

 

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Shamarr Allen meets the Bear: No Excuses, 1.

 

What’s going on with how people are reacting to State Police rousting Shamarr Allen two weeks ago? That is: hardly at all. Don’t you – we – care? Is there some fear or reluctance to discuss police issues, beyond saying there are not enough of them and they should be paid more? Would that be going outside the lines of the coloring book?

Maybe we are supposed to be afraid of them, if we say things they might not like. They are armed and have political clout.

Well, I never got the hang of the quiet thing, so I am going to weigh in. How about a little bit of clamor and uproar from the cheap seats out there?

Shamarr Allen’s event highlighted a serious problem. He has exhibited sound courage and caring in going public with it, and that deserves some support.

Or opposition. If you are in favor of abusive policing and humiliation without charge, and not ashamed to admit to it, let’s hear from you.

I have been traveling, missing the feedback that comes from the vibe in the coffee shops and bars, but I have been able to listen to the Tommy Tucker podcasts, see some news reports, watch the video, get some emails. And Google tells me the public silence is embarrassing for the city of New Orleans.

After I watched the video and read Colonel Edmonson’s enlightening remarks, that feeling of inner jaw-drop produced a vision of Lewis Black, fingers waggling wildly, a fractured yawp: “Are you fucking kidding me!

Tommy Tucker says he understands both sides. The cops are working long shifts, they are looking for an escaped prisoner who might be armed. So Tommy gets it, he says.

Repeat Lewis Black, louder.

Tommy Tucker says he understands Shamarr Allen: successful guy, caught in some kind of dragnet, feels bitter, resents the whole thing.

Cue Lewis Black again. Could Tommy Tucker understand resentment against intentional humiliation by guys with guns if the victim were not successful and well known? What if the victim were not a successful musician? How about an unsuccessful musician? Suppose he is an unemployed toilet attendant? Where do you need to be on the employment scale for intimidation and humiliation to be okay? Come on, Mr Tucker. You can do better than that.

Truck drivers are not allowed to work double shifts, because if they get tired, unresponsive or irritable at the wheel of a big trailer truck, mayhem could ensue.  Are Tommy Tucker and others excusing abusive policing including gun threats due to tiredness and tension? Come on, guys – you can’t excuse allowing aggressive, tired people with a badge of authority out on the streets with loaded guns.

Colonel Edmonson says he reviewed the video carefully, second by second, and it is all okay. By the book.

Re-run Lewis Black louder: “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!”

The Colonel says pointing guns in a citizen’s face, handcuffing, forcing backward over a car hood and then to stay down on the ground are okay, if the officer is not recorded saying anything impolite. Audio on the dashcam video is very low, and the Colonel does not appear to wish to have the audio enhanced. And the Colonel is an Honorable Man.

Tommy Tucker’s attempt to turn the encounter of the hunting pack and potential prey into a softball game sounds good, but it’s no good. The police’s responsibility to respect the dignity of people – us – must not depend on your bank account or how well known you are, or whether the officers are tired or feeling stressed.

It has been pointed out that if the policemen are following the manual, then you can’t blame the individual policemen. I think we can agree on that, but it only escalates the problem. It means the problem is in the system. The system, the manual and the Colonel, and by implication the Governor who appointed him, say that pulling people out of cars with force on flimsy pretexts, pointing weapons at unarmed civilians, threatening, intimidating and humiliating, are okay.

No. They are not.

The fact that the victim of this particular act of brutality and ugly egotism was a well-known guy who never did anything wrong got the incident on your Big Brother screen and into your eye line. Thanks to Mr Allen for following it through. And now from what I am seeing in public follow-through, we should all be embarrassed.

NOTE: Colonel Edmonson said that Shamarr Allen’s version was not accurate. I don’t know about that, but I am basing my opinion on the video and Colonel Edmonson’s statements, with some modifications. In one quote the Colonel said the police did not pull guns, for instance. The video clearly shows two of them with drawn guns approaching the car, one pointing threateningly at Mr Allen who was seated in it.

There is no way a society seriously trying to pretend it lives in a free nation can say that it is not okay for the state police to come into New Orleans and do this to Shamarr Allen, but it is okay to do it to the next unknown black guy, or white guy in the less likely event, who does not have any profile or access to our content-hungry, indecisive, sponsor-pleasing media. Abusive policing is either bad, or it is not. I say bad. If you think it not, you are the problem. Get out of the way of the solution, or prove us wrong.

Did you hear the caller on the Tommy show, Big Shirley, if I got his name right? He said they prepare black kids with a survival strategy for dealing with cops: hands on the dashboard, no eye contact. Yassuh, Massa.

What decent human being wants this ugly old stuff to survive in the society they call themselves a member of?

Some people will lay it on the leader of the cop mob in the video, whom you can see in this video that a friend sent me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv5q1-32N1Q

Shamarr Allen said the cops threatened all sorts of stuff and barked the usual intimidation/disorientation stuff you can pick up in torture movies. The Colonel says they didn’t. The Colonel is an honorable man. Watch the silent, face-disguised video and make up your own mind. http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/08/state_police_releases_dashcam.html

I see a guy kept on the ground, subjected to degradation, humiliation.

Does it matter what the officer said? When a uniformed guy showing every sign of adrenalin jag has a gun pointed at your face and his finger on the trigger, does the threat need verbal reinforcement? Does judgment of a guy showing physical signs that he might kill you hinge on whether his words were vicious?

The raw nerve of it is: it is not okay.

What Colonel Edmonson said is by the book is not okay, and those of us, those of you, who accept it are accepting security state methods instead of the crime prevention you think you are paying for.

Stop accepting it. You are empowering the end of freedom and of pride in citizenship in a free society aspiring to moral behavior. You will ultimately have the freedom to look like what the police think looks right, or to be a victim.

If you favor abusive policing, take your Judge Dredd fantasies to the privacy of a locked bathroom and snarl in the mirror alone and quietly, like a decent nut case. And don’t forget, Dredd was usually polite in a hard, snarly way; then he killed you.

Here is a quote from a book that came before Jindal’s and Edmonson’s:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

That is the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

By what acceptable book do you approach a person with no specific suspicion, no probable cause greater than driving the other way, trying to avoid encountering a clump of police cars with lights spinning, with a lethal weapon drawn and pointed at his head, to threaten, intimidate and humiliate?

“By the book” to drag people from vehicles, throw them across the hoods of cars, force them to the ground, with guns used to threaten, intimidate, humiliate?

“By the book” to browbeat, shout at, intimidate and humiliate because the victim did not know or follow in these conditions the accepted state cop way to put your hands up, or whatever they were on about? Some of those tactics were judged criminal in Abu Ghraib. What are they in a public street in this city?

“By the book” to keep a guy they knew was not their escapee on the ground, in a public street, for long minutes, while they fiddled with documents, stretching procedure, extending humiliation? While illegally searching a cell phone, as well.

“By the book” to warn a citizen that he cannot return to Holy Cross? By what book does a street cop or traffic cop get the right to tell a person where he can go in his city? To threaten him with what they will do to him if they see him there again?

What has become of the American people, that they allow their public servants to operate by such a stupid, brutal book?

Feeling in danger from the escaped prisoner, Tommy Tucker said, tired and in fear. I don’t buy it. What you see in the video is the adrenalin of the chase. Six or more  well-armed hardcore cops hunting one guy escaping. Ever seen a hound pack when they hit a fox? The fox has maybe three seconds to live. Tell me the dogs were afraid of the fox they just ran down over five miles of field.

Is it “by the book” for a commanding officer to cover for his guys, at the cost of showing contempt for the public his job is to serve? Maybe it is. Change that book. If the policeman’s job is to serve the state above the people, change that book. And the commanding officer should consider his position.

He should consider where to find the moral courage to say: We didn’t do this right. Sorry.

Did some lawyer tell him: admit nothing. You might be sued.

The “crime” in these videos is pretty obvious: insufficient subservience to the police. That is the nub and core of what is going on here. Have you tugged the forelock? Shown that you washed your hands? Have you been careful to look down? Don’t eyeball me, you – – – – (fill in whatever the Bear thinks you are that day). Defective cowering skills.

No policeman should be allowed to use a service weapon to threaten, intimidate or humiliate a person stopped for checking without probable cause that the person stopped has a deadly weapon and intends to use it. Never, not ever, not even once. In a sensible police force, an officer would be on immediate suspension and inquiry for drawing a weapon against an unarmed civilian. Service guns are for defense or subduing armed suspects. That means clear and present danger, or probable cause. If Edmonson thinks any different, and instructs his men any different, get him and them out of our city. And either re-train the gun-happy loose wheel who pulled pistols on Shamarr Allen and the St John Parish Attorney, or get him off of any force you support. Not because one is Shamarr Allen and the other a county employee, but because using guns to threaten, intimidate and humiliate people is neither crime prevention nor detection. It is subjugation. Unless you are a supine masochist who wants your own taxes to be used to intimidate, threaten and humiliate you or your family.

Colonel Edmonson has degrees in police work and I don’t, so how can my opinion count? For longer than the Colonel has been a cop, I have been a civilian, probably in more law enforcement environments than he has. Their special education is within a frame of reference. There are other frames of reference. As a regular civilian, I am part of one of the major variables in the police equation. My opinion counts. So does yours, but I am not hearing it.

If we really can’t imagine a better way to run a civil society, what are we?

What do I know about being on the wrong side of a pointed gun? A bit north of nothing. Pretty Mickey Mouse compared to the aggression Shamarr Allen was subjected to in Holy Cross, and much less than thousands of young black men grow up to expect. But enough to know that it is not a lot of fun, and that police of any stamp subjecting their own fellow people to it cannot be even remotely justified by right-thinking people.

Fact is, my fellow free citizens, it is not just the American Black men and women that are the victims of police brutality, skewed as the numbers are against them. It is all of us, if we allow ourselves too live in a mental and cultural state where what should be called brutality is okay. We don’t even know we are there. We don’t even protest or fight back. See if you can see that in yourself, in your friends.

New Orleans and especially French Quarter and downtown people wanted more police for crime prevention. “Boots on the ground,” the security fans called it. The patrols would show the police were there.

Can you associate the South African style police assault on Shamarr Allen with crime prevention?

Crime provocation is the right name for it. These incidents whether they go public or stay in the shadows do not prevent crime. They incite it. They stoke a seething layer of resentment under the surface of daily life that adds in to whatever poisons motivate spree shooting, and to the mental state represented by the quote from St Roch – if accurate – Let’s get a white boy on a bike and beat him up, take his stuff.

A friend who knows security really well says the Staties are traffic cops, often from rural Louisiana, who don’t understand New Orleans or urban policing.

Do you let it go at that? What about pulling the 50 of them into a room and saying: This is New Orleans. Brutality stinks everywhere, but here it don’t wash. Be civil. Civility is not weakness. Do not flash weapons to intimidate or provoke. Do not humiliate. Violation will be addressed by disciplinary action or dismissal. Think it through, learn it fast, we don’t have time to frack around.

Links:

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/08/state_police_releases_dashcam.html

http://audio.wwl.com/a/95304418/8-6-8-10am-tommy-controversial-police-stop.htm?q=shamarr

http://audio.wwl.com/a/95304804/8-6-9-10am-tommy-controversial-police-stop.htm?q=edmonson

Cops Pull Guns On Innocent Man; Aren’t Charging Him ‘As a Courtesy’ [VIDEO]

 

 

 

 

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