Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Witnessed a Shooting - Called It In To 911- And the Police Never Showed Up

The New Orleans Police Department has been asking the community to help in it's policing efforts to help stop violent guns crimes.

Calling in shots fired is part of how we help.

Today whilst standing on my porch, I witnessed gunfire from a black SUV, young men running away from the truck and the shots being fired at them, and here's the kicker -- the SUV got stuck in the mud.

I called in the shots fired at 4:05 p.m., and told them that the SUV was stuck in the mud. I was told a squad car would be out.

I called back at 4:11 p.m. as the SUV was STILL STUCK IN THE MUD - I was told again a squad car would be sent out.

By 4:25 p.m. when I called again, the SUV and the men in it WERE GONE! And not a police car in sight.

Come'on Mayor Landrieu, Chief Serpass - what is going on???

The Police could have caught these guys with the gun in their truck, freshly fired as they were stuck in the mud.

Instead, they got away.

And I feel even less safe knowing that.
When I called again at 4:25 p.m. and told the officer that every one was gone, I was told a squad car would still be sent out - it's 4:31p.m. and still no car...

4:39 p.m. - Just saw a squad car patrol by.

An Ethical and Moral Quandary:

This situation brought to the fore not only the problems associated with responding to violent crime in a city where the crime rate is so high, but with with my own, and for many other residents in crime ridden areas, problems with being able to be as honest as possible with the police to help them do their job.

Later in the day, a Detective came and responded to the 911 call. He asked to speak with me and was very concerned and conscientious about his work. When I walked into the street to meet him, I asked him if I could sit in his car, as I realized my being seen in the street speaking with the police would mark me as a target with those with violence in their spirit and guns in their pockets. When we were finished speaking, he drove me back to my house down the street, and two people were walking down the street in the cover of the dark. I asked him, out of fear, to take me to the back door, so that I would not be seen and mostlikely, gossiped about. In that moment, I saw with perfect clarity, how afraid I was, and how powerless I am. When we were sitting by the back of my house the officer began asking more questions about who I saw, and in that moment I was forced with an ethical and moral quandary that 50 years of experience on this planet, had not prepared me to face...

I realized as he was asking me, that I could describe more of who was involved in the shooting I witnessed, and to do so, would put me in danger as 3 of the youths involved lived in the area. When we first moved into this neighborhood, a youth was just getting out of jail for shooting his cousin in the back. The message I processed was that with minor gun violations, it may lead to jail time, and then, the offender is back on the street with his longtime friends. I am an outsider. And yet even if I grew up here, I would face the same dilemma, as those with the guns are often your neighbors; young, often with an attitude of nonchalance when it comes to using their weapons.

I have never had to face this moral/ethical dilemma, and this morning I am riddled with guilt for not saying more, and breathing a sigh of relief that I did not say more, as I would be in danger.

I am still living in an environment of danger. Being near shootings is not uncommon in the neighborhoods I have lived/worked in since coming here post-Katrina. I used to be able to process the shock by writing poetry. As it comes closer and closer to my home, I find no solace in writing, just a heaviness in my spirit, at my powerlessness, and a greater compassion for the police who are faced with the possibility of violent reality, every moment they are on the job, and their own moments of feeling powerless.

with a heavy planetary heart...

One Love

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