Monday, September 27, 2010

A Death in Central City

Posted By on Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas and leaders from Mardi Gras Indian organizations and Social Aid and Pleasure Club (SA&PC) communities held a press conference this afternoon at City Hall to address the death of Jeremy Galmon, the 2-year-old who died after being caught in a fusillade of gunfire at First and Dryades streets in Central City on Sunday afternoon. Galmon was in a car near an intersection where a second-line parade had passed several minutes before, and his death was once again misreported by some media outlets as having some connection with the second line culture.

Calling it a “tragic day in the history of the city of New Orleans,” Landrieu made a plea to the public to find Galmon's killers: “We know there were people on the street who know who did this, and it is not acceptable now not to come forward. You have to trust enough in the police and the community to come forward.” Serpas made a direct appeal to "the parents of the shooters to turn them in.” Pastor C.S. Gordon of New Zion Baptist Church addressed the murderers directly, asking them to come forward. “I believe you have a heart. I believe you recognize what has happened,” he said, adding, “None of us is beyond the grace and the love of God.”

click to enlarge presser presser

Pastor C.S. Gordon of New Zion Baptist Church, flanked by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD chief Ronal Serpas, urged the shooters of 2-year-old Jeremy Galmon to turn themselves in to police.

More under the jump, including the reaction from Mardi Gras Indian and Social Aid and Pleasure Club leaders....

Darlene Cusanza of Crimestoppers said the group was doubling its usual reward to $5000, and had already been receiving tips.

The shooting took place during a week when representatives from the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) were in New Orleans to help the NOPD, the DA's office and the mayor's office to design a strategy to reduce the city's murder rate. DOJ officers were among the 30 or so people who surrounded the mayor, a group that also included City Councilmembers Arnie Fielkow and Jackie Clarkson and Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao.

Galmon had been in a car at an intersection with his grandmother and two other young children when a driver sprayed the area with bullets. He was shot in the face. Emergency responders took Galmon to Touro and University hospitals, but he was unable to be revived and died at the hospital.

The proximity of the shooting to the second line — which was a celebration of the 126th anniversary of the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association — had been shorthanded in some media outlets as “another murder at a second line,” a reference to the shooting of a woman in the Seventh Ward Sept. 5 near Sidney's Saloon after the Black Men of Labor second line had passed. After the press conference was over, members of the Mardi Gras Indian and second-line communities expressed their frustration to Gambit: “It's always the outsiders,” said Gerard Dollis, Big Chief of the Wild Magnolias, who had been at the scene with his elderly father when shots rang out.

“Our traditions do not emanate from the streets. We promote peace,” said Shereece Harrison-Nelson, a third-generation Indian who said she and her tribe work with children in schools and community centers to teach songs, history and the intricate beadwork that goes into the Indian costumes. “We are strong men and strong women with diverse talents, and we go into schools because we want to be proactive.”

The conflation of violence and second lines “has irritated me for years,” said Herreaste J. Harrison, the widow of Donald Harrison Sr., Big Chief of the Guardians of the Flame. Harrison said the Mardi Gras Indians were no strangers to skirmishes and squabbles, just like “frat boys” and sports fans, but that violence and murder were antithetical to the tradition. “You going to spend a year building a beautiful suit and then go out to mess it up? No.”

A burial fund has been established for the Galmon family. Contributions can be made at any Liberty Bank branch, or by phone at 504-240-5288.

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