Thursday, March 4, 2010

LJI Guest Columnist: Parnell Herbert on Police Accountability

As I sit in my apartment in Houston TX . I viewed a New Orleans news channel online and thought, "How pathetic. Will times never change?"

They are still using the same old strategies on us and we are still falling for them. "Civil Rights Leaders protest." The police assault on innocent civilians on the Danziger Bridge who were guilty of nothing more then trying to survive is the story I was drawn to.

"When Black people get angry, they call out the Safe Negroes to calm us down."

Several years ago I was in New Orleans after NOPD officers murdered mentally challenged Anthony Hayes on St Charles Ave. I was invited to join a group of "Civil Rights Leaders" to meet with Police Chief Warren Riley and high ranking officers of New Orleans police force.

After two hours of rhetorical discussion we left the meeting and met with the media who were anxiously waiting outside. Basically we said, "We told them not to do it again, and they said OK."

I was home New Years of 2009 when NOPD officers murdered a young man who was sitting in a car in front of his Grandmothers home. I watched the TV news as some of these same "Civil Rights Leaders" emerged from a meeting with Chief Riley and said, "We told them don't do it again, and they said OK."

On the Tuesday evening news, again many of the same "Civil Rights Leaders" held a press conference to denounce the actions of NOPD in the Danziger case.

What do you accomplish by denouncing a case where you have a confession? Where were they in 2005 when it occurred? That may be an unfair question because they were possibly dispersed throughout the country as many of us were. But a fair question is: "Where were they when New Orleans first Black District Attorney, Eddie Jordan, was being publicly lynched for bringing indictments against these same cops on this same case?"

I watched as they shouted into the microphones in front of the TV cameras expressing their outrage. Their "Call for justice and equality," their "Demand for change, change with police training and the way these investigations are handled," their plea for the incoming mayor to make choices that will prevent this from happening again.

I watched as incoming mayor Mitch Landrieu vowed to make sure we have a police force that is "Well resourced and well protect and to serve."

I was drawn to a term that we used often back in the 60's: "Talking loud and saying nothing!" That is the rhetoric I hear from the city.

The only way to demand and receive change is to reopen past cases of police abuse and murder beginning with the young brother on New Years morning; Anthony Hayes on St. Charles Ave; Raymond Robair on Villere St; Joe Williams of the Hot 8 Brass Band, Jenard Thomas murdered in front of his father.

Ask your readers to add to this list then go to City Councilman James Carter , State Representative Cedric Richmond of the Judiciary Commitee; Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the Federal Judiciary Commitee; and Attorney General Eric Holder. And let us not forget Federal Investigator Jim Letten and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

We must also hold accountable Coroner Frank Minyard and his investigations and decisions in many of these cases. Accountability is the key. When police are shown that they can no longer get away with murder, they will discontinue the practice. The people of New Orleans are in a position to cause positive change throughout the United States.

These demands must be made publicly, they must be made loudly and they must be made clearly.

Just after I wrote about the police murder of Raymond Robair I found a new news story on the case: The FBI made a big deal about investigating that case and came up with the same cover up scenario. Business as usual.

Come on, Black people, stand up!!! We have to strike while the iron is hot. Google "Raymond Robair New Orleans " Don't sleep through this one.

Parnell Herbert is a New Orleanian, displaced to Houston by Hurricane Katrina. He is active on many social justice causes, including the right of return for New Orleanians, and freedom for the Angola Three. His new play, Angola Three, was recently performed in New Orleans.


Anonymous said...

Up late posting. Parnell is a modern day hero on many fronts. I am still displace...glad that I never return.

Montana said...

You just can’t trust any policeman pig (OK mainly New Orleans Police). These losers shot and killed two (some shot in the back); shot 4 others, and the civilians were unarmed. These losers then planted guns and covered up their mistakes with lies and intimidations. This year five police officers already have pleaded guilty to lying and covering up. The Bush Administration did nothing. Let’s hope all of these pigs get what’s coming to them.