Scoot Blog: Shooting and Swing Dancing on Frenchman
What a beautiful Sunday afternoon it was for Mother’s Day!
I was in the French Quarter with plans to go to Frenchman yesterday afternoon when I received the text alert from WWL.com that numerous people had been shot during the Mother’s Day Second Line Parade on Frenchman. I was close to the shooting but at that moment I was living in an entirely different world.
As a native of New Orleans, it hurt me to hear the news of the shooting because of the innocent people out having fun on a splendid Sunday afternoon who became part of a gang-related or retaliation shooting during such an iconic New Orleans tradition as a Second Line parade. I also realized how the story of this shooting would instantly spread to the mainstream media.
Many believe that New Orleans is plagued with a culture of violence and is not a safe destination for tourists or families. The Mother’s Day Second Line parade shooting supports that belief. This city does have a culture of violence and it is unfortunate when the criminal element injures innocent people when committing their acts of violence, but New Orleans IS a safe destination for visitors and families.
There is no excuse for the brazen attitude of shooting into a crowd on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with numerous police officers present, but that attitude does reveal that criminals feel protected in certain communities because too many people who know who is involved in crimes simply will not turn over key information to police.
Today, at a press conference, NOPD Chief Serpas said that people know who did this and NOPD is depending on those people coming forward with information. As long as criminals feel as if they ‘own’ their neighborhoods, their crimes will continue and so will their brazen attitudes. The mayor and the police can only do so much in the war on crime in New Orleans. Citizens need to step up and do their job by exposing the criminals that threaten their families in their neighborhoods.
The challenge is to make New Orleans as safe for the good people in crime-intensive neighborhoods as it is for our guests. It was interesting to receive the news of the shootings just minutes before I was headed to Frenchman St. On Sunday afternoons on Frenchman, there are a couple of clubs that offer small bands and swing dancing. Blocks away from the horrible shooting scene, I enjoyed a flashback in time to an era I had only heard or read about. It was fascinating to see young people, many with tattoos and others that would be described as ‘hipsters’, swing dancing in an area of New Orleans that was host to that scene many years ago.
We have all been reminded that life is never guaranteed. The Boston bombings injured and killed people innocently attending the Boston Marathon – a traditional America event. But we can’t stop going to public events. The tragic shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut don’t prove that schools are unsafe. Anyone is much more likely to be injured or killed while driving a child to school or getting in the car to drive to a public event, yet we still do those things.
The very nature of media forces it to focus on things that are sensational. A shooting at a Mother’s Day Second Line parade in New Orleans is a sensational story that reverberates across the country. New Orleans is a ‘celebrity city’ and like celebrities, anything negative will attract even more attention. If a celebrity is pulled over for speeding, because that person is high-profile, there will be more scrutiny. With all of the major events that put our city in the national spotlight and because New Orleans has such an identifiable and unique image, any negative event here will instantly attract national attention.
That’s not to say that this type of senseless shooting would not have deserved and received national attention, but when it happens to a person or a city that is so well-known, the impact seems greater. There may also be increased reaction to the negative things that happen here because New Orleans is viewed as such a fun-loving and hospitable city. Anything defying that image will be major news.
As a victim of an attack by four men on the streets of New Orleans recently, I will not stop enjoying this city and I would hope that we can all rally to support the idea that this is OUR city and we have a right and responsibility to do what we can to expose the ignorant criminal element that thrives on fear.