Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans tests violent ‘street code’
The suspect in the New Orleans Mother's Day shooting appears to fit the profile of those being targeted by the police anti-gang task force in the city's latest crackdown on violence.
(Page 2 of 2)
The murder rate was down slightly in 2012, to 193, and the rate has slowed in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the year before, police say.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures American Gun Culture
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“It’s not that I don’t think the new strategies are working, but it’s just that there’s still people out there, like the people involved in this, who don’t read the paper, they’re not getting the message,” says Harper.
Sunday’s mass shooting suspects fit perfectly the kind of criminals the city authorities have begun to target under the new policy, says a consultant to the project, David Kennedy, a professor at John Jay College in New York.
“As information is coming out about the suspect and the shooting, he is also straight down the middle of what we now know drives this stuff: known to the police, extensive criminal record, and it’s nearly certainly going to turn out that he’s involved with others just like himself in some form of drug crew or gang,” says Mr. Kennedy, who is also director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College.
While the push in New Orleans is to convince criminal gangs “that the game has changed profoundly,” it’s also to assure residents that complaints and testimony will result in convictions.
In that vein, the shootings may test what Kennedy has called a “toxic schism” between police and community, underscored by a “no snitch” rule inspired less by the potential for drug money proceeds and more by a distrust in the ability of police and prosecutors to protect those who speak up.
"We think the violence is about money, and hardly any of it is," Kennedy said at a recent symposium in New Orleans. "It's overwhelmingly about the street code," which he adds is "unquestionably" pervasive in New Orleans.
Despite a history of audacious shootings in the city, some criminologists predict that New Orleans will see a dramatic dip in its murder rate in 2015, but not necessarily just because of the new anti-violence gambit.
The city in 2015 will see its smallest cohort of 14-24-year-olds in recent memory, which will come at a time when New Orleans high schools are also graduating a higher proportion of their students than they have in many years. Those two trends affecting the age and demographic groups most responsible for street violence in the city could help the murder rate drop by as much as 30 percent, experts say.
But while residents marched on Monday in a show of force against the violence, the shootings also became wrapped up with the darker reputations of so-called “second line” marches, where gunfire occasionally happens and which are often known, as Harper said, to have a “thug element” in the vicinity.
In this case, the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club has held a Mother’s Day event since 2001. Sunday’s event, which organizers said was intended "to celebrate the women of America in New Orleans for the hard time that they have taking care of children,” started at about 1 p.m. on Elysian Fields Avenue.
A video released Monday shows a festival crowd exploding in different directions about 45 minutes into the Mother’s Day street party. Celebrants appear to be ducking away from a man in a white t-shirt and dark pants, who then runs out of the frame.
Police on Tuesday were still trying to determine if there was more than one gunman after saying that there may have been as many as three.