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"Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public."
April 25, 2011 2:56 AM   Subscribe

A federal justice report on policing in New Orleans since 2009 presents damning evidence of brutality, cop misconduct and systemic abuse of black citizens post-Katrina. The city’s jails are not far behind. No limits to the law in NoLa
posted by fearfulsymmetry (111 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Reminds me of this jaw-dropping story from a former New Orleans resident shared here last year.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


i imagine that the NOLA police dept is an isolated really bad police dept. in the good ole' united states,, i stopped reading after just two incidents, just too pain-full to continue on.
posted by taxpayer at 3:37 AM on April 25, 2011


When I see you systematically abuse black people I feel that those actions might be able to be characterised as racist. Not that I'm calling you a racist - that's a conversation I don't want to have, because I don't want to shut down a potentially life-changing dialogue that causes you to see the errors of your ways and suddenly stop being such a racist, you fucking racist.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:43 AM on April 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:05 AM on April 25, 2011


And people laugh at me when I say, repeatedly, that we already live in a police state. They think I'm loony, a black helicopter extremist.

This is what a police state looks like. This is it exactly.
posted by Malor at 5:14 AM on April 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is what a police state looks like. This is it exactly.

Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Get your News about America from MSM somewhere else.
posted by adamvasco at 5:20 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Arrested or not, it makes little difference for the dead citizens.
posted by ryanrs at 5:22 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was waiting in a lobby to take a placement test for college, because I hadn't been in school or had any test scores to show for the last five years. This is the first placement test I'd ever taken for college. While there, I overheard a man who was in the police academy, also there for a placement test, talk about how hard it was. How difficult. How many times he failed the reading, writing and math (that's all it really is!)

Now, this started making me a little bit nervous about the test. I went in, took it, got my test scores back instantly. I passed everything, easily.


The soon-to-be police officer failed. Again.


This is who we are employing to 'keep the peace' and 'protect and serve'. People who cannot even pass very basic reading, writing and mathematics tests.
posted by Malice at 5:24 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our culture glorifies police violence (often in the name of fighting "drugs" and "terrorism," which it turns out means we're all criminals if we have anything at all to "hide").

NWA where are you?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Arrested or not, it makes little difference for the dead citizens.

I'm not saying things can't get bad in America, just that the ability to report on how bad it can be and the ability to bring people to justice is a few steps away from a police state.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:36 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is who we are employing to 'keep the peace' and 'protect and serve'. People who cannot even pass very basic reading, writing and mathematics tests.

Actually, in some places, we're selecting for that:

Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:40 AM on April 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm not saying things can't get bad in America, just that the ability to report on how bad it can be and the ability to bring people to justice is a few steps away from a police state.

Except that one citizen had a hit put on him because he reported police misconduct through official channels. Sure, the guy was held accountable for the murder years later – but someone still got killed for reporting police misconduct.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:47 AM on April 25, 2011 [9 favorites]



Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores



...wut.

My brain just exploded. There's goo everywhere. Maybe now I can be a pooleece offiser.
posted by Malice at 5:51 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?

Will actual changes in policy and training come about because of these arrests? One can hope. But a significant portion of New Orleans' population lived under what was in practice a police state for decades. And this isn't the first time the NOPD has come under investigation, with officers arrested and charged. How much more corruption, conspiracy, and deliberate violation of citizens' rights is necessary to make it a "real" police state?
posted by rtha at 6:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is who we are employing to 'keep the peace' and 'protect and serve'. People who cannot even pass very basic reading, writing and mathematics tests.

Law Enforcement policies are not determined at the national level, so unless by "we" you meant the denizens of whatever city/county you live in, this is a gross generalization. Clearly every region has it's unique challenges, some greater than others. However, there are tens of thousands of law enforcement professionals that are highly competent, morally upstanding and trying to make a positive difference in communities across the nation. Dismissing all police officers because you overheard a conversation once does a real disservice to folks who regularly put their lives on the line for the public good.
posted by fatbobsmith at 6:20 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I grew up in New Orleans. This is nothing new.
posted by Legomancer at 6:22 AM on April 25, 2011


This is not "isolated;" it is systemic.

The correct phrase is "a few bad apples spoil the barrel." It means that institutions are easily corrupted in their entirety. Nowadays, the phrase is turned on its head to mean the opposite.
posted by warbaby at 6:41 AM on April 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


i was a police officer , and i can tell you that common sense is much more important than brain power daily!
posted by taxpayer at 6:41 AM on April 25, 2011


This is what a police state looks like. This is it exactly.

New Orleans isn't a police state. A police state is organized, orderly, and operates under the rule of law. New Orleans exists in a perpetual state of corruption, incompetence, and disorganization. The NOPD is merely the most successful of the street gangs profiting off of the city's chaos and disrepair, not especially in control of anything. Philadelphia or New York or Los Angeles are far more like police states than New Orleans (to the small extent that any of these places are like police states) because their police actually enforce laws.
posted by RogerB at 6:54 AM on April 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


This is who we are employing to 'keep the peace' and 'protect and serve'. People who cannot even pass very basic reading, writing and mathematics tests.

Maybe that guy just gets really nervous during tests?

"Can't do well at tests" does not mean stupid.

I've known people whose spelling and maths skills were terrible. A lot of them work in a role that requires constant use of maths and where spelling, grammar and whatnot would be very useful. That doesn't mean that these people are unable to do their jobs.

Maybe that guy in the academy will have the shittiest quality written reports in his precinct and maybe one day he'll save someone's life or make their day by returning their property. Maybe he'll be able to tell someone that their loved one died and be understanding and supportive in a way that maybe you or I couldn't. Who's to say?

I don't disregard the effects that someone will have on the world around them because they fucked up at a test and I would hope in real life that nobody else would either. If that same kid in the academy beats a black suspect up or shoots or tases someone then fucking go at him all you like but otherwise all you did here was tell us that you rate smarts highly in your first impressions.
posted by longbaugh at 6:57 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


So apparently Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans was a documentary.

That terrifies me.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:59 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


This ignores that NOLA was rife with corruption and abuse before Katrina. It was like this because like many 2nd tier American cites, it can't survive on its own without government and state aid. And where there is aid, there is corruption.

I am stunned that people wanted to move back there after Katrina destroyed homes, neighborhoods and communities. A city is not a country. There are no borders. A NOLA resident evacuated to Houston is not a refugee. Your home city is not who you are.

Look at this report. This is not what happens when law and order breaks down. This is what happens when there is no law and order. This is what happens when New Orleans meets The Road. Pack your things, get/rent/steal a car, and leave and never look back.

It's not your job to rebuild. It's not your job to bear the burden of the city's future on your back. The ocean wants it, let the ocean have it. Get thee to greener pastures.

The best thing that could have happened to New Orleans is for none of the evacuees to return. Abandon it, and leave it to the geographers and the archeologists.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pastabagel: the article doesn't "ignore" pre-Katrina corruption at all. Here's a quote:

Howell adds: "Going into Katrina, our police department was a train wreck - in terms of the police, in terms of the jail, in terms of what was going on in the courts. It was just a deeply dysfunctional system. Katrina didn't cause the dysfunction in the system, it just exposed it."

Much of the article talks about pre-Katrina abuses and the long-standing history of corruption.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:06 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This ignores that NOLA was rife with corruption and abuse before Katrina.

No, it says that right up front.
posted by mhoye at 7:06 AM on April 25, 2011


God knows what archaeologists would make of all the beads.
posted by longbaugh at 7:06 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The best thing that could have happened to New Orleans is for none of the evacuees to return. Abandon it

Clearly you've never been to New Orleans, but I think you should visit before condemning us all to the water. We've got a lot more to offer than bad news stories.
posted by Hoenikker at 7:07 AM on April 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


In the two years since I've moved back I've found that reading the Times-Picayune headlines every day is the fastest way to get numb to the bullshit that goes on here. The first couple of months it's depressing to read six days out of seven that someone got shot, and a few of those got dead. The stories of incompetence in the administration have slowed but by no means stopped since Nagin and Riley left office. Watching the Henry Glover trials move through the news was almost too excruciating.

I couldn't have been happier when Landrieu got elected and I saw the headline, "Mayor Mitch Landrieu seeks federal intervention for NOPD" - maybe we're starting down the right path.

Maybe.

[minor nitpick: it's NOLA, not NoLa. New Orleans, LA. All those letters are capitalized. Thank you. (not you, fearfulsymmetry, but James Fox)]
posted by komara at 7:08 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


New Orleans meets The Road

Yeah! They could have done a hellacious shot of the I-10 bridge, an endless paved dystopian journey to... more and worse on the Southern end of it all.
posted by buzzman at 7:11 AM on April 25, 2011


It was like this because like many 2nd tier American cites, it can't survive on its own without government and state aid. And where there is aid, there is corruption.

I don't even know what this means. All cities require and receive government and state aid.
posted by rtha at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus fucking Christ. I had never heard of camp greyhound. That is some serious apocalyptic theocratic thug-state bullshit right there. It's like the beginning to that thermals album.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:19 AM on April 25, 2011


> Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?

Sure, an American city is as corrupt as a third-world shithole, but how dare you tell me I am not free!
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:25 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am stunned that people wanted to move back there after Katrina destroyed homes, neighborhoods and communities.

You're stunned because you don't know anything about New Orleans or southeast Louisiana? You're stunned because there is nothing unique or special about your neighborhood and community, and you can't relate?

New Orleans is the most unique city in the US, and the most culturally significant. There is more here than just the birthplace of jazz, and the home of mardi gras, the Cajuns and Creoles, the French Spanish Caribbean African and American influences, the worlds busiest port, the food and the drinks; there's a lot more to New Orleans and it's sad that you're unconcerned about it's destruction.

The ocean wants it, let the ocean have it.

That is in bad taste. If you ever bother to visit New Orleans then I'd suggest you lay off the water comments.
posted by Hoenikker at 7:34 AM on April 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


"The police department, is like a crew, that does whatever they want to do." I never guessed growing up that those dudes rapping to me were actually telling the truth and not just exaggerating for effect. Increasingly when things happen, I hear some part of a verse replaying in my head, that has been telling me for decades some truth that is only starting to get the proper attention.
posted by cashman at 7:37 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?

Ah, I see, police state only exists when all means of free speech are shut down. Gotcha.

How about Government Sponsored Abuse, Murder, Torture, Abduction and Imprisonment State?

Whew! Good thing it's not all bad!
posted by yeloson at 7:41 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?

Sure, an American city is as corrupt as a third-world shithole, but how dare you tell me I am not free!


Not what I wrote or meant at all. My original comment was in response to Malor's comment which stated we, meaning Americans, live in a police state. I disagree with his characterization, while fully acknowledging there is some truly bad shit that happens in America.

Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?

Ah, I see, police state only exists when all means of free speech are shut down. Gotcha.


I encourage you to read the comment I wrote, which you quoted above, which also mentions bad cops being arrested and tried, which doesn't happen under a police state.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:45 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's weird that the New Orleans exceptionalism in this thread is mostly confined to the defensive "birthplace of jazz" booster bullshit and is absent from the "police state" argument. People from the rest of America and/or the first world who want to have the "police state" fight should consider the possibility that, while the NOPD is indisputably a complete nightmare, it is not really representative enough to be a good stalking horse for broader concerns. The US Department of Justice found NOPD's problems unprecedented, rather than representative:
While other departments generally have problems in specific areas, like the use of excessive force, “New Orleans has every issue that has existed in our practice to date, and a few that we hadn’t encountered,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
posted by RogerB at 7:50 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember reading once that, from 1999 to 2009, more Americans were killed by police than terrorists.

Sorry I have no source for this stat...
posted by mmrtnt at 7:51 AM on April 25, 2011


i was a police officer , and i can tell you that common sense is much more important than brain power daily!

Even more important than the common sense is the capacity to be something more than a band of pig-ignorant racist murderers. Unfortunately, many PDs are failing to set their hiring standards high enough to reinforce that.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:09 AM on April 25, 2011



Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores

I was absolutely certain this would take me to an Onion article.

Wrong again.
posted by notreally at 8:10 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It was like this because like many 2nd tier American cites, it can't survive on its own without government and state aid.

I think I'd like to see a bit more information about which cities receive what aid, what causes a city to be in which tier, and stuff like that before I'm going to accept this statement at face value. It smacks of something that for now I'll just call "mistaken blanket assumption".
posted by hippybear at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2011


On 17 March this year, the federal department of justice (DoJ) decided that enough was enough and it has made moves to have the New Orleans police department (NOPD) placed under the supervision of a federal judge.

That really says it all. I've visited NOLA twice and loved it, but reading the article made me appalled and sad.
posted by storybored at 8:22 AM on April 25, 2011


I remember reading once that, from 1999 to 2009, more Americans were killed by police than terrorists.

That wouldn't be very hard to achieve, I'm sure. 9/11 resulted in, what? under 5K deaths, even if you take into account people who died later of medical causes. How many more people were killed by terrorists since then? I don't know the number off the top of my head.

There are many MANY things which have killed more Americans over the past decade than terrorists. That one of those factors could be police doesn't surprise me at all.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 AM on April 25, 2011


New Orleans is the most unique city in the US, and the most culturally significant.

NYC. San Francisco. Miami. Chicago. Atlanta.

Let's not do "We're number one!" stuff. It's insulting to everyone else.
posted by Marty Marx at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Marty Marx, those are all great American cities, while New Orleans is something different.
posted by Hoenikker at 8:32 AM on April 25, 2011


Let's not do "We're number one!" stuff. It's insulting to everyone else.

But delusional thinking about the city's cultural preeminence is just as important to the New Orleans experience as corrupt policing! Next you'll be telling me that an American city should have functional infrastructure, or that there are other kinds of food besides fried shrimp po-boys!
posted by RogerB at 8:35 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hoenikker said: "New Orleans is [...] the worlds busiest port."

You're right about New Orleans being a wonderful city, but it's not even close to being the world's biggest port, as this table will demonstrate. The stats for 2009 show South Louisiana way back in 14th place with just 203,000 tons of cargo against Singapore's 515,000 tons and Shanghai's 508,000. America's biggest port, maybe, but even that depends on which measure you use.
posted by Paul Slade at 8:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is possible to express disappointment and despair at a city's corrupt police force without condemning the city to the bottom of the ocean.
posted by gordie at 8:43 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The ocean wants it, let the ocean have it.

The ocean wants and will have most, if not all, of the coastal cities in the U.S. (and lots of other places in the world). I guess we should just say "fuck it" for all of them, right?

And the argument about whether NOLA is first or tenth on the list of Culturally Significant Places in North America is pointless - it has value because people value it. People who moved there or moved back after Katrina aren't idiots who get whatever they deserve: they are people who found a home and want to live there. To those who claim to not understand this very basic human impulse, well, I'm sorry you've never felt that way about anywhere you've lived.
posted by rtha at 8:47 AM on April 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Paul Slade, sorry, you are correct. I should have specified that the Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana together makeup the largest port system in the world by bulk tonnage.
posted by Hoenikker at 8:47 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who moved there or moved back after Katrina aren't idiots who get whatever they deserve: they are people who found a home and want to live there. To those who claim to not understand this very basic human impulse, well, I'm sorry you've never felt that way about anywhere you've lived.

Thanks rtha, you said that better than I could.
posted by Hoenikker at 8:48 AM on April 25, 2011


i was a police officer , and i can tell you that common sense is much more important than brain power daily!

There is no such thing as common sense. Any sense at all is decidedly uncommon, and is usually the result of education, of one form or another.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:49 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Atlanta's cultural significance comes nowhere close to matching New Orleans'. Not even remotely close. not even a week's drive close. Atlanta's civil rights-era history is of great import, but New Orleans isn't lacking in that department either. You could start with the SCLC, or Plessy v. Ferguson and the organizing around that.

It's possible to clean up a force, meanwhile, IF f the federal government doesn't botch the effort. It happened with New York, as I've been reading in The Savage City. But even now, I hear people going on about metafilter about NYC is a police state or whatever. It's not even an eighth as bad as it used to be, though. I hope the FBI gets something to work and stick here.
posted by raysmj at 8:54 AM on April 25, 2011


Pastabagel: "I am stunned that people wanted to move back there after Katrina destroyed homes, neighborhoods and communities. A city is not a country. There are no borders. A NOLA resident evacuated to Houston is not a refugee. Your home city is not who you are. "

My emotional ties to New Orleans are much, much stronger than they are to the United States as a whole. I feel sorry for you if you've never lived in a place you've cared about.
posted by brundlefly at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Marty Marx, those are all great American cities, while New Orleans is something different.

Each of them is something different, which is why the boosterish claims about NOLA being the greatest and most unique is insulting. Don't be so parochial.

Atlanta's cultural significance comes nowhere close to matching New Orleans'. Not even remotely close. not even a week's drive close.

Well, I think you're wrong about Atlanta, but there's really no way to adjudicate that, is there? And you still haven't done NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, or Miami. Nor should you. We might as well have an argument about the best or most unique flavor of ice cream.
posted by Marty Marx at 9:12 AM on April 25, 2011


hippybear : There are many MANY things which have killed more Americans over the past decade than terrorists. That one of those factors could be police doesn't surprise me at all.

I was going to make pretty much this same point, but the comparison did get me thinking; the amount of money and effort we spend on catching, fighting, and jailing foreigners who might want to harm Americans absolutely dwarfs the amount we spend on pursuing the law enforcement agents who absolutely do hold the general population in disdain and as a means to advance their own corrupt lifestyles.

And on a day to day basis, which is the average American more likely to interact with? Which are the residence of NOLA more likely to be afraid of?

I know that the percentage of corrupt police officers is an bare fraction of the number of quality, respected, honest men and women who wear the badge, but then, the number of radical Muslims we are trying to block from harming us is infinitesimal when compared to the number of followers of Islam, but that hasn't stopped us from taking a hard-line approach.
posted by quin at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Rum raisin. No question. Chocolate, butter pecan, dulce de leche, and cookies & cream are all great flavors, but rum raisin is something different.
posted by Gator at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2011


Henry Glover, a 31-year-old African American, was shot by a police sniper as he picked up goods behind a shopping mall during Katrina. He was taken by his brother, a friend and a passer-by to a nearby school that police were using as a special operations centre. There a Swat team let Glover bleed to death and beat his rescuers. Another policeman took the body in the rescuer's car to the levee and torched it, putting two shots into the body (he later called that "a very bad decision").

It's not often that you burst out laughing in horror.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


(Dons pedantic asshat)

Please stop writing "most unique."

(Doffs pedantic asshat)
posted by thudthwacker at 9:15 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


To be clear, New Orleans doesn't have to the "most" anything to be worth saving.

It's just a coincidence that it's the greatest place on Earth.
posted by brundlefly at 9:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Everything in America is the most, baby, get with the program.

New Orleans!
Detroit City!
Dallas!
Pittsburg P.A!
New York City!
Kansas City!
Atlanta!
Chicago and L.A!
Wooo!

posted by Meatbomb at 9:24 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Marty Marx, okay, so you don't like New Orleans. Whatever. I'd still feel pretty gross if NYC, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, or Atlanta were subjected to a horrific natural disaster, followed by frantic rescue/relief operation ball-dropping, and people just said, "Eh, why can't you just live in Huston?"
posted by Hoenikker at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


This whole "most unique" bullshit is one of the reasons americans are thought of as arrogant uneducated, uncultured hicks when they go abroad.
posted by c13 at 9:31 AM on April 25, 2011 [5 favorites]



Marty Marx, okay, so you don't like New Orleans. Whatever. I'd still feel pretty gross if NYC, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, or Atlanta were subjected to a horrific natural disaster, followed by frantic rescue/relief operation ball-dropping, and people just said, "Eh, why can't you just live in Huston?"


No, I think New Orleans is great. Katrina is a fucking tragedy, and the suggestions that people who love their city should just live somewhere else is insulting (and stupid, given the huge economic cost of abandoning a major port city). We can throw some talk about latent racism involved in those suggestions too, if you like, but that is an even bigger topic.

I have only objected to the "We're number one!" bullshit. Other than that stupid parochialism, I doubt that we disagree about much here.
posted by Marty Marx at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


About a year after Katrina, I shared a dining table on a train with a NOLA evacuee who had been relocated to Lancaster, California. He told me that he had no idea that white people and cops could actually treat him so decently. He loved Lancaster, and he told me he'd never go back. He was really grateful for the new opportunity he was given.

Folks, when you prefer Lancaster over New Orleans, that says something.
posted by Xoebe at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


*are insulting
posted by Marty Marx at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2011


All cities require and receive government and state aid.
All rural areas, too? Net? It's been a long time since Bastiat noticed that everyone tried to use the government to live at the expense of everyone else, but I think it remains mathematically impossible for everyone to succeed...
posted by roystgnr at 9:40 AM on April 25, 2011


people just said, "Eh, why can't you just live in Huston?"

But which one? John is dead, and I'm not sure Angelica would grant permission.
posted by hippybear at 9:42 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Roystgnr, much of the funds that sustain both cities and rural areas come from federal and state taxes. In this way, it is possible for every local government to be dependent upon state and federal governments.
posted by ryanrs at 9:47 AM on April 25, 2011


But which one? John is dead, and I'm not sure Angelica would grant permission.

HEYYYOOOOOOO
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


All rural areas, too?

Uh, yes? I'll dig up the link I've seen that details how rural counties in California (for instance) receive more in state dollars than they collect. Or are you under the impression that rural areas don't collect or use tax dollars for their roads, fire, police, and medical services, schools, libraries, etc.?
posted by rtha at 10:01 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


About a year after Katrina, I shared a dining table on a train with a NOLA evacuee who had been relocated to Lancaster, California. He told me that he had no idea that white people and cops could actually treat him so decently. He loved Lancaster, and he told me he'd never go back. He was really grateful for the new opportunity he was given.

That's cool. About a year after the hurricane, I was on the train going from Michigan to Chicago. There were two Katrina evacuees who were headed West to live with family. They said when the National Guard picked them up and told them they were being taken to Michigan, they were all disappointed.
posted by riruro at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2011


It's not a matter of No. 1 in anything, although the port would not be replaceable except over several decades or a century or more. It's not one port but 90 miles of stuff along the Miss. River. But that's an old and boring "debate" (one that exists only in some peoples' minds). That New Orleans is of more import to American culture than Atlanta is not a debate at all. Even Chicago, which does have more cultural importance, is important more as a commercial center that allowed R&B singers and jazz people (a la Louis Armstrong) to become internationally famous. It was not the breeding ground for all of that, it picked up everything second-hand. Which isn't to put it down. Atlanta is more economic importance to the nation. But I would have picked Memphis before evening mentioning Atlanta as far as cultural impact goes, even if I dig Outkast. Cultural and historical impact is not that hard to judge.

Now, back to police corruption. I'd love to see that discussed, without bringing Katrina into this except in incidental fashion.
posted by raysmj at 10:17 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that having a tiny portion of murderous cops up for trial every few years would be exactly the thing needed to maintain a police state. Just enough to put a shine on it.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:32 AM on April 25, 2011


San Diego does not really have much cultural significance at all.

But goddamn is the weather better than in New Orleans.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:45 AM on April 25, 2011


Oh my god, I came in this thread to talk about this story, and found it full of the "leave it to the water" bullshit I faced all over south Georgia when I evacuated there. This is not only offensive, it's a trigger for a lot of us, and I really don't see how it adds to the conversation.
posted by honeydew at 11:00 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


honeydew: "Oh my god, I came in this thread to talk about this story, and found it full of the "leave it to the water" bullshit I faced all over south Georgia when I evacuated there."

Yeah. When I evacuated to the Bay Area I got nothing but support, but I heard stories like yours from people who went elsewhere. It was hard hearing it second hand, and I'm very disappointed to find it here.
posted by brundlefly at 11:08 AM on April 25, 2011


San Diego does not really have much cultural significance at all.

I will not have you speak that way about Whale's Vagina.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2011


I am shocked and stunned to find the immortal AZ referencing that film. I thought you were above that.

I must now recalibrate my expectation-a-tron.
posted by longbaugh at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2011


One of his sock puppets must have gained control of the main account.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:35 AM on April 25, 2011


Even when the cops are tried and arrested, articles published, is that a police state?

"So far so good! So far so good! So far so good!" said the man who fell from the 25th floor as he passed floors 24, 23, and 22....
posted by lord_wolf at 11:38 AM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


As long as we're talking about corruption and cover-ups, I can't help but wonder which sensitive documents disappeared in today's fire at the coroner's office.
posted by komara at 11:51 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't help but wonder which sensitive documents disappeared in today's fire at the coroner's office.

And that is exactly the problem with systemic corruption; once it has become prevalent enough, there is no reasonable way of discerning evil from accident, and the only prudent course for someone to take is to assume illicit intent is present in anything that has even a whiff of ambiguity.

This lays a foundation of mistrust for all law enforcement, even when it's doing good and operating on the right side of the law.

And this is why I hope the pendulum swings hard the other way soon; and the public stops quietly acquiescing1 and demands that law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard. Sending dirty cops to prison and preventing them from ever holding a position of power again is the only way a lot of people are ever going to be able to trust the police again.

1.) Though at the same time, hopefully avoid getting murdered by a cop-paid contract killer, of course. l
posted by quin at 12:08 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am shocked and stunned to find the immortal AZ referencing that film.

That film is a beautiful masterpiece. Now if you'll excise me, I am going to do something new. It's called jogging. Apparently, you run and ... that's it. You just run. Jogging. Or maybe yogging. I don't know if it's a soft j.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel I'm arguing about angels on the head of a pin, but New Orleans doesn't fit the classical definition of a police state. It's just garden variety endemic police corruption, found all over the world, except in a few lucky places that have instituted real rule of law. The more correct term here is probably failed state.

Even most dictatorships are not police states. The term usually means one in which the police enforce a rigid ideology under direction from the highest levels of government, not one in which the police run amok while the central government dithers.
posted by dhartung at 12:22 PM on April 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, when I think of "police state" I think of a very organized state apparatus that spies on its citizens and uses the media as its mouthpiece and police as an arm of oppression. NOLA sounds more like what you get in a third world junta with officers acting mostly independently to line their own pockets.
posted by quin at 12:29 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is who we are employing to 'keep the peace' and 'protect and serve'. People who cannot even pass very basic reading, writing and mathematics tests.

Thank the Department of Justice for that.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:56 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A city is not a country. There are no borders. A NOLA resident evacuated to Houston is not a refugee. Your home city is not who you are. "

Seriously? I mean, I'm from The Hague1 and while I don't identify more strongly with my city than with my country, there is a very definite identity associated with being from there rather than from Amsterdam. This is a distance that I have cycled.

I get that in the US there is less in the way of regional identity and it maybe isn't as finely grained as in Europe, but to casually dismiss regional and municipal identities as simply non-existent seems as foolish as it is callous. This is not an identikit suburb extruded from Toll Brother's planning computer based on demographic forecasts, it really is one of the most different of the American cities, in a state which likewise has a distinct identity (complete with non-common law derived legal code and language dialects).

Not only that, but why is it exclusively at the level of the nation-state that we are required to nail down our identities? Isn't it much more natural to feel the strongest affiliation with the smallest, most granular groups? We feel the greatest affinity with our families and very close friends, obviously, but why skip over the intermediate stages of city, state, and region and go directly to the national level for our next most important collective identity?

I get that sometimes natural or even economic forces might drive people to migrate within or without their countries, but that is not the same as ignoring the deep ties that bind people to their homes.
I personally live a peripatetic life and I haven't even lived full-time in my own country for more than a decade, but that doesn't destroy the cultural roots.

Yeah. When I evacuated to the Bay Area I got nothing but support, but I heard stories like yours from people who went elsewhere.

Possibly because the Bay Area is simultaneously ridiculously awesome and a death-trap waiting to be sprung on its inhabitants.


(1) Trans-Atlantic fistbump to my below-sea-level peeps in NOLA
posted by atrazine at 2:02 PM on April 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Well, some cities are more conducive to wrapping up one's identity than others. Santa Fe and NOLA are the two which spring immediately to mind, but I'm sure there are a few others.

Some cities have a feel and a culture all their own. Most of them aren't interchangeable, but few of them really mark you deeply and have their own way of life. By all accounts, NOLA does that, and while I haven't ever lived there, I'm guessing that if you haven't ever lived there, you really can't speak authoritatively on what it's like to grow up there and be from there.
posted by hippybear at 2:26 PM on April 25, 2011


(1) Trans-Atlantic fistbump to my below-sea-level peeps in NOLA

Levees REPRESENT yo!
posted by Hoenikker at 2:43 PM on April 25, 2011


(1) Trans-Atlantic fistbump to my below-sea-level peeps in NOLA

Hey now, come on, don't lump us all in the same category. My neighborhood rests at a comfortable 1-2 feet above sea level.

Or maybe you're saying you just don't love me.
posted by komara at 2:58 PM on April 25, 2011


My neighborhood rests at a comfortable 1-2 feet above sea level.

For now... Wait 10 years?
posted by hippybear at 3:04 PM on April 25, 2011


SUBSIDENCE IS A MYTH PREACHED BY ATHEIST SCIENTISTS
posted by komara at 3:05 PM on April 25, 2011


You should leave NOLA for Churchill, Manitoba. Then you can catch 'em on the isostatic rebound.
posted by stet at 3:07 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Subsidence is not happening that quickly in the higher-ground parts of New Orleans, and no scientist with anything but passing familiarity with NOLA would say anything re the below-sea-level-in-10-years thing. Do you have anything to add about police corruption, or do you want to continue this idiotic, baiting "debate?"
posted by raysmj at 3:57 PM on April 25, 2011


raysmj: I'm not sure to whom your comments are actually addressed, but as far as I know hippybear and I are just joking around. I don't actually think my neighborhood is going to sink into a marsh in under ten years.
posted by komara at 4:26 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, did my little joke upset you? Seems like you've been a MeFi member long enough that you should have a thicker skin than that.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on April 25, 2011


Presumably the people who think the police are "a band of pig-ignorant racist murderers" are not going to call them in case of emergency. Who would you call then? Noam Chomsky? The Steppenwolf Theatre Company? PBS Morning Edition? Seeing as you'd presumably be equally opposed to 'vigilante' action does this mean anyone can just pop round and take your car and DVD collection so long as they flash their 'social exclusion' card on the way out of your window?
posted by joannemullen at 5:23 PM on April 25, 2011


obiwanwasabi: When I see you systematically abuse black people I feel that those actions might be able to be characterised as racist. Not that I'm calling you a racist - that's a conversation I don't want to have, because I don't want to shut down a potentially life-changing dialogue that causes you to see the errors of your ways and suddenly stop being such a racist, you fucking racist.

I can't believe this bullshit has stood up for this long without comment. NOPD is, just like the city itself, majority black and has been for a while. Those of you shitting on New Orleans as a third world city in the middle of the US need to think on that a little harder, you may make yourselves sick with the implication.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 5:29 PM on April 25, 2011


Presumably the people who think the police are "a band of pig-ignorant racist murderers" are not going to call them in case of emergency. Who would you call then? Noam Chomsky? The Steppenwolf Theatre Company? PBS Morning Edition? Seeing as you'd presumably be equally opposed to 'vigilante' action does this mean anyone can just pop round and take your car and DVD collection so long as they flash their 'social exclusion' card on the way out of your window?

Do you have an actual point beyond this passive-aggressive bullshit? Do you dispute that the police who committed any of the acts described above merit that epithet? By the way, we're talking about the NOPD. What the hell are you talking about?
posted by invitapriore at 5:33 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


ferdinand.bardamu, I think that might be a reference to this previous thread. Or not.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2011


hippybear: I read scientific journal articles (for research work) in which academics stated with apparent total confidence that the entire city sits 16 feet below sea level. I don't presume that anyone is ever joking about that sort of thing. Post-K, far too much BS was passed around as fact by people who should have known better. Not just occasionally, but untruths passed around as fact don't help anyone or anything.

Meanwhile, it might be helpful to know that the city's newish mayor, Mitch Landrieu, has been extremely cooperative with the FBI. Enough people in the city want reform post-K, but the city lacks a culture of consensus building on issues, to put it lightly. So I would hope that the FBI has more say-so re reform than any city official, including a new-ish independent police monitor, working with the also new-ish NOLA inspector general's office.
posted by raysmj at 7:00 PM on April 25, 2011


FWIW, my comment wasn't a joke about subsidence. It was a joke about global warming and sea level rising.

Sorry to have offended you so greatly. I will leave the thread now. Good day to you.
posted by hippybear at 7:11 PM on April 25, 2011


Morning Edition is on NPR, duh.
posted by Snyder at 12:02 AM on April 26, 2011


ferdinand.bardamu: I can't believe this bullshit has stood up for this long without comment. NOPD is, just like the city itself, majority black and has been for a while. Those of you shitting on New Orleans as a third world city in the middle of the US need to think on that a little harder, you may make yourselves sick with the implication.

It's still racism. A mixed group of government agents systemically targeting black people is following a racist agenda, even if it's membership is mostly black.
Black/brown people of all classes are still fair game for abuses of power in a way that white people aren't, and that's due to traditional American racism.

Experiment, not to take away from my mainpoint: What would the response be if this majority black police force was systemically abusing white people?
posted by TheKM at 5:38 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


because the talk is getting all more-heat-than-light in here, i'll post some of the interviews from the radio station i work for that have discussed the NOPD with community members and the independent police monitor.

Malcolm Suber on the history of the NOPD, and Serpas

Susan Hutson, New Orleans' Indepedent Police Monitor, and Ursula Price, the Executive Director of Community Relations in the IPM office, talk to Matt Olson of WTUL News & Views about their role in changing the culture of the New Orleans Police Department and how the community in essential in making that goal a success.

Wesley Ware of Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, on the treatment of prisoners
posted by eustatic at 6:34 AM on April 26, 2011


i think all of these interviews happened before the federal report, and so these efforts by these people allowed that report to happen. thank god.
posted by eustatic at 6:35 AM on April 26, 2011


joannemullen:

You really need to RTFA before you jump into the thread and blindly defend the police. This article is about wantonly corrupt cops in NOLA. FFS, a cop hired a drug dealer to kill someone over a formal complaint. This is what systemic corruption does, so that's what we're talking about.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2011


Apologies if I missed it, but the actual Department of Justice report does not appear to have been linked in this thread.
posted by dhartung at 9:43 AM on April 26, 2011


Presumably the people who think the police are "a band of pig-ignorant racist murderers" are not going to call them in case of emergency. Who would you call then? Noam Chomsky?
More likely Smith & Wesson or a trusted friend. It's not as if you could actually count on the NOLA police to a) defend you, your family, or your property*, b) investigate, arrest, and and support prosecution of someone who harmed or took you, your family, or your property*, and c) not harm or steal you, your family, or your property*. That's kind of the point of the article. The NOPD may not consist of "pig-ignorant" individuals, but there's no denying it contains a substantial number of racists and murderers and is, on the whole, corrupt as living hell.

* Especially if you are poor and/or a person of color

By the way, what's with the hate-on for Atlanta, raysmj? It may not be NOLA, but it has a distinct culture, charm, and history, and was arguably one of the most important cities throughout the American Civil Rights Movement, as well as being central to much of the hip hop, rap, and R&B music of the last couple of decades.
posted by notashroom at 3:31 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just back from a week in NO for work. Taking the shuttle in to the city, I started getting angry again at the post-Katrina clusterfuck. Talking with residents, I got even angrier. That we have left a city to die or stand on its own is just unconscionable.

It also embarrasses me that staying in Tremé, I knew I was probably safe because I'm white. This is an issue in Baltimore (where I live) and was in Detroit (where I used to live) and probably in other cities. This shouldn't be true, but I'm not above taking advantage of it.
posted by QIbHom at 9:36 AM on May 3, 2011


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