When a shooter in a foreign land targets patrons of a cafe, or a car bomb goes off at an American marathon, we call it terrorism. When a young man shoots indiscriminately into a crowd of people for no political or religious purpose, we just call that life in New Orleans. Once again, we say it has to change, yet once again it happens — as it did last week when a gunman opened fire on hundreds of people celebrating Mother's Day at a second line in the 7th Ward (see Alex Woodward's story, p. 7).
The news shocked even violence-weary New Orleanians and made headlines worldwide. Nineteen people were wounded by the gunfire — including Gambit correspondent Deborah "Big Red" Cotton (see story, p. 9) — and a 20th person was injured in the melee. As a writer, Cotton has chronicled and championed second lines, brass bands, social aid and pleasure clubs and Mardi Gras Indians. She also has been a forceful voice against violence, challenging us all to examine its root causes if we intend to fix it. Most recently, she launched a website called NewOrleansGoodGood.com, dedicated to shining a light on some of the underreported "good good" things about our city.
In that spirit, let's take a look at some of the "good good" that's happened since last Sunday:
• As of press time, no one injured in the attack had died. That's a miracle in itself.
• Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Chief Ronal Serpas and other law enforcement agencies moved quickly to find the alleged shooter and possible accomplices.
• On Tuesday, two days after the shooting, NOPD identified 19-year-old suspect Akein Scott, who was apprehended Wednesday night in eastern New Orleans. On Thursday, Serpas announced the arrest of Scott's brother, 24-year-old Shawn Scott, and four others who allegedly hid or otherwise abetted Akein after the shootings.
The Scott brothers were booked with 20 counts each of attempted second-degree murder. Magistrate Gerald Hansen set a $10 million bail for the younger Scott ($500,000 for each count), but another judge ordered him held on no bail for at least several days on an unrelated charge. For a citizenry fed up with inexplicably low bail amounts, this news was as important as the arrests themselves.
• Citizens did their part. NOPD officials praised the community for tips that cops received from the public and through Crimestoppers, saying they helped locate the alleged shooter.
• Those in the parade demonstrated what it means when New Orleans says "Won't bow — don't know how." The TBC Brass Band (which lost its instruments in the melee) was back performing in the 7th Ward three nights later. And the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club, which has staged its Mother's Day parade for years, announced a "re-do" on June 1. The club also will collect funds for the victims, but it's not the only organization helping out.
• The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic will hold a blood drive in response to the shootings this Wednesday (May 22) from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Frenchmen Street Art Market (617 Frenchmen St.). There will be live music and many of the businesses on the street will be open. If you want to help, please email the clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, address, phone number and preferred donation time.
• On Thursday (May 23) at 7 p.m., Gambit's nonprofit arm, the Foundation for Entertainment, Development and Education, will team with the Tipitina's Foundation for a benefit concert at Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave.). Co-chairing the event are musicians Fats Domino and Donald Harrison Jr. and actor Wendell Pierce, and the lineup of performers includes the Hot 8 Brass Band, Bonerama, the Stooges Brass Band, the Revivalists, the New Orleans Suspects and Donald Harrison and the Congo Square Nation.
All concert proceeds will go to "The 19 Fund," which will benefit the victims of the shootings and future victims in metro New Orleans. The United Way of Southeast Louisiana will be the fiscal agent for The 19 Fund, and Silence is Violence will be the fund's administrator. Tickets to the benefit cost $40 and are available at www.tipitinas.com. You also can help by texting a donation to United Way. Details are available on Gambit's website, www.bestofneworleans.com.
• A fund has been set up to aid Deborah Cotton (http://www.gofundme.com/2xmcaw). Register for updates on her condition and ways you can help at www.neworleansgoodgood.com — and keep her, as well as everything else that is "good good" about New Orleans, in your minds and in your hearts.