I thought we were done getting supplies from Habans Elementary several weeks ago. But we keep going back to Xy’s old school for more stuff.
Today we got some help from some of the SWAT guys who are camped out there. These cops can’t go home because their homes were flooded. They can’t take up residence on the cruise ship that houses other homeless cops because they have too many weapons.
The New Orleans Police Department doesn’t have a very good reputation. Personally, I always try to reserve judgement if I haven’t had first-hand contact with people.
They provided a big flatbed truck, and they helped us load it up with 15 tables and 30 stools for Xy’s classroom, and a lot of other supplies to boot.
We hung out a little, had some coffee, some bacon, eggs and grits. I’ve never really hung with cops before, and certainly not with SWAT. Mainly they talked about guns. I know nothing about guns, so I didn’t have much to say.
One guy, shaved bald and tattooed, seemed like a real hardhead. The gate of the truck (a heavy piece of metal) fell on his shoulder, which had just had surgery. I exclaimed “oh man!” But he didn’t flinch or say a word or even grimace. It was like he had to pretend he was Superman or something. Later he told Captain Jeff that even if he was hurting, which he clearly has to be, he wouldn’t admit it.
Captain Jeff was another story entirely: gracious, friendly, helpful, hospitable and, dare I say it, gentlemanly. I liked him.
But it was kind of strange when he mentioned they were keeping their eye on a demonstration taking place on St. Charles Avenue. Xy wondered if the protest might have something to do with the controversy surrounding the city’s attempt to demolish some homes in the Lower Ninth Ward.
“No,” one of the cops said, “It’s that clown from Common Ground.”
Needless to say I was intrigued, since I’m friends with Malik Rahim and have a pretty high regard for the Common Ground Collective.
Later I asked Cap’n Jeff about it. He allowed that “they actually do a lot of good work” but that this was an attempt “to win over hearts and minds, if you know what I mean,” because “it’s all very political.” He told me they were closely associated with an organization called Cop Watch, which goes around with video cameras “antagonizing” police and “basically provoking” them into misbehaving.
All of which seemed mighty suspect to me, but knowing what I know about the anti-authoritarian types at Common Ground, it’s no surprise they’re at odds with the cops.
Tuning into the evening news, I learned the protest was about the attempted eviction of some New Orleanians (rendered homeless by Katrina) from a hotel on St. Charles. Ultimately a judge issued a temporary restraining order stopping the evictions — at least for today. SWAT was not called in.