Since January, three people have been shot and killed at the intersection of Derbigny and Mandeville streets in St. Roch, and in the past two weeks, two men have been mugged and beaten nearby, including local artist Christopher Brumfield and Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association (FSRIA) Vice President Bill Murphy. There was a crime march in the neighborhood July 30, with a flurry of news cameras, New Orleans City Councilman Jared Brossett and a fleet of police officers, including New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Ronal Serpas, on the scene.
With neighborhood shootings a regular occurrence in St. Roch, some of the march attendees wondered if it takes the mugging of two white men to get the community's attention.
That's the question "T," who did not want to be identified, said he asked himself when he learned about the march. "I got a friend who got shot, and nobody was asking to interview me," he said.
FSRIA secretary Rosie Lacy says the march originally was scheduled for last month but was rained out. "We actually did come out and march anyway, but the NOPD was not with us," she said. "So this is a reschedule of that meeting."
FSRIA President Derrick Floyd pointed out that Murphy "advocates for everyone. This can't be a black and white issue," he said. "We have to do it together. We all are living here in a great and vibrant neighborhood." Floyd said the march would help to show that the neighborhood will not stand for murders, robberies and rape, and called on the NOPD to do more bike patrolling and meetings with residents.
The McDonogh 35 percussion unit led about 50 people around St. Roch. Serpas shook hands with residents along the route of the march, climbing onto front porches and patting kids on the back. That's the kind of thing Floyd said he would like to see more. "Get back to that old-fashioned 'Officer Friendly' policing," he said. "I would like our policemen, when they're patrolling, to slow down a little bit when they're patrolling. Say 'Hi, how are you?'"