By holding a forum between law enforcement and 40 residents with serious criminal histories yesterday, the city took a first step toward addressing the root causes of New Orleans' murder problem, author and Criminologist David Kennedy said at the Loyola University symposium on lethal violence today. The "call-ins" are a key component of Opeation Ceasefire, which Kennedy first launched in Boston.
Kennedy, author of Don't Shoot about his work in Boston, said the call-ins address two issues that contribute to murder.
The first is identifying those people who are most responsible for this kind of crime, which, Kennedy says research has shown is typically a tiny number.
“This is a problem that is rooted in very small numbers of very small groups of very active offenders," he said. And they are loosely organized into groups.
“It is completely unnecessary to get into the question of whether New Orleans has gangs, and whether those are different than gangs in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.” What matters, he said, is that there are groups. “These groups are responsible for a huge portion of violence in these cities.”
Kennedy said of the highest-risk demographic in high-crime neighborhoods — young men — only about 20 percent are associated in some way with actively criminal groups. Of that number, only about 10 to 20 percent are what he called "impact players."
(More after the jump)
One of the more memorable quotes in Gambit from a local musician came from Pantera lead singer Phil Anselmo (in Alison Fensterstock's cover story about New Orleans' metal scene):
"[New Orleans] sucks you in, man," Anselmo says. "There's no place like it; there never will be. We might be the next Atlantis, but till that time comes, I will sit back in a recliner, and in a couple of years, they can find my skeleton underneath all that water with a Saints shirt on and a fleur de lis tattooed on what's left of my flesh. I'm stayin'."
Anselmo also is one of the founders of the House of Shock haunted house in Jefferson, the first iteration of which was in Jay Gracinette's backyard 20 years ago. For all the occult themes and satanic images, however, the metal rockers behind House of Shock are hardcore fans of the New Orleans Saints. Their pyrotechnics team was very proud to produce the pyrotechnic display at the Saints' 2010 NFC championship game in the Superdome.
House of Shock co-founder Ross Karpelman related to Gambit this week that one of his favorite memories from the house of horrors followed a Saints game. After the team crushed the San Francisco 49ers in the Superdome, Kyle Turley came to the haunted house and mounted the castle precipice above the entrance. He brought with him a 49ers jersey, and they burned it while the crowd below went wild in celebration.
The House of Shock presents free music outside the attraction, and Sunday (Oct. 28) features The Kyle Turley Band. And because no one wants to miss the game against the Denver Broncos, it'll be on a large screen outside the attraction.
Last week, we announced our recommendations in the Orleans Parish School Board races and for the nine proposed constitutional amendments. Following are our recommendations for Congress and the New Orleans City Council, as well as local referenda. A full ballot of recommendations will appear in Gambit's Nov. 6 issue.
CONGRESS: CEDRIC RICHMOND & STEVE SCALISE
No, they’re not running as a team, but they often serve as one for the benefit of southeast Louisiana. Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat, and Scalise, a Jefferson Republican, rarely vote alike on issues of national significance. However, the two men — whose friendship dates to their days in the Louisiana House of Representatives — could teach their colleagues a lot about building bipartisan coalitions.
On at least three recent occasions, Richmond, who represents solidly Democratic District 2, and Scalise, who represents thoroughly Republican District 1, put aside party differences to forge consensus on issues of vital importance to the region. In July 2011, they joined forces to direct $6.8 million to increase dredging in the Mississippi River to keep shipping lanes open. The very next day they added $1 million for coastal restoration, which took it out of the “non-starter” category of federal projects and put it in the pipeline for future allocations.
Perhaps their biggest success was helping pass the RESTORE Act, which they coordinated with U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Senate. The act ultimately will send billions to Louisiana for coastal restoration. “We built a very big coalition,” Scalise says. “It was very important to the five Gulf Coast states, but we were all on very different pages. It took lots of juggling, but at the end of the day, it all worked out for Louisiana. We will get the most money by anybody’s estimate.”
There was a time when such cross-party coordination was routine in the Louisiana delegation — and at the highest levels of Congress. Sadly, such bipartisanship is rare these days. In fact, both parties seem to punish members who reach across the aisle. Fortunately, Louisiana has two members of Congress who get the notion that bipartisanship moves the region — and the country — forward. We recommend both men be re-elected.
Below the cut: Recommendations in City Council races and local referenda.
"Ever felt the urge to ‘Whac-A-Hipster?’" asks multi-billion dollar international car company Toyota, which invites music fans at Voodoo to "live our their hipster-whacking fantasies" at the Prius Family Playground.
I don't know about you, but when I've rounded up the wife and kids and need a quick break from the daily grind, nothing cools me down like a refreshing round of bloody-knuckled fisticuffs with a fashionable teen.
Me and my fellow meat-headed family men slap on our sleeveless tees, yellow sunglasses and get to work on burying our hands into the faces of quirky kids in cardigan sweaters. Thanks, Toyota, for sharing the family-style approach to beating the shit out of people I don't like.
Now that you've got my attention, what else can we check out at this year's Toyota Prius Family Playground?
Loyola University is hosting an all-day symposium today focusing on "community-based" solutions to murder and violence, in particular in New Orleans, which, as we're all well aware, has the country's highest murder rate.
First up today was New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who made no attempt to glaze over the problem. As of this morning, Serpas said, there have been 160 murders in the city this year.
“We’ll be around 199, 200 by the end of the year, same as last year," he said, or a rate of more than 50 murders per 100,000 population, again, same as last year. Beyond the numbers, however, the city is fairly typical.
“One of the things we’ve put a lot of work into recently is recognizing that, in fact, the way murder transacts in New Orleans is not unusual … but for the numbers,” Serpas said.
(More after the jump)
The latest Louisiana public school performance scores, released Friday (Oct. 26), show continued — and dramatic — improvements in local public schools. Those improvements have occurred in schools run by the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) as well as the Recovery School District (RSD). That’s significant for a lot of reasons.
Institutionally, it means that the RSD and the OPSB are doing their jobs. Overall, the OPSB scores are significantly higher, but there’s a reason for that. After Hurricane Katrina, the RSD took over the worst public schools in the state — more than 100 of them — and left the OPSB with only the best schools in town (about a dozen now).
To its credit, the current OPSB took the city’s best schools and made them even better. OPSB schools now rank second highest in the state. Their overall letter grade is an “A” and their 2012 district performance score of 133.8 is less than one point behind the tiny (and relatively wealthy) Zachary Community School District, which scored a 134.7.
But off the festival grounds, there are some Halloween cover shows, in which local bands perform as some of your favorite bands and artists.
Habitat (as Nirvana), Sun Hotel (as The Ramones), The Tontons (as... The Tontons) and Caddywhompus (as Patsy effin' Cline) perform at One Eyed Jacks at 10 p.m. Saturday. Download Habitat's self-titled 2012 EP here, and download Sun Hotel's Gifts here.
Punk supergroup We Are 138 performs more than 30 Danzig-era Misfits tracks at a free show at Check Point Charlie at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Tonight at 8 p.m., there's a Halloween cover show at AllWays Lounge. Local punk bands mix up for short sets covering Weezer, Thin Lizzy, Circle Jerks, Dead Boys, Nirvana, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Replacements, Black Flag and others. Admission is $5 and proceeds benefit the New Orleans Community Printshop.
It may not be the first movie people think of when Halloween comes around. But Alfred Hitchcock's early masterpiece Shadow of a Doubt provides just the kind of true-to-life psychological fright that puts most modern horror movies to shame. Co-written by Thornton Wilder — the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Our Town — Shadow of a Doubt serves up a slice of small-town American family life interrupted by the arrival of an eccentric uncle who may be the "Merry Widow Murderer" hunted by police. It's no surprise that Hitchcock was quoted more than once describing Shadow of a Doubt as his "favorite" among the 50+ feature films he directed.
The Prytania will show Shadow of a Doubt at 10 a.m. this Sunday, Oct. 28, and again at 10 a.m. on Halloween, Wednesday, Oct. 31.
(route details below the jump!)
The New Orleans Saints were back at it Thursday working on third down situations and it was an area of emphasis for a very big reason.
“To be quite honest with everybody, since we've been here in 2006, this is one of the first football teams where they do have some decided advantages on third down,” said assistant head coach Joe Vitt after practice. “They’re going to create schematically, defensively and offensively, some real challenges for us.”
Converting on third downs in the fourth quarter could be a reason the Broncos have outscored their opponents 79-6 in the final frame. “I think for the first time in John’s career he truly has a quarterback that can put points up on the board,” Vitt added. “So, the margin of error is just a little bit better for the defense and they’re letting it go and they’re letting it flow.”
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