A year ago I gave a speech.
Sadly enough, I could give that speech again today. Not much has changed.
I would have to strike the reference to District Attorney Eddie Jordan — he’s gone. I would lose the line calling for more cops. But other than that, I stand by what I said a year ago, and I’d say it again.
Not much has changed. But really, I didn’t expect much would in just a year. We need deep and lasting change, and that won’t happen quickly.
If you think a march and a rally and some speeches could change a city overnight, or even over twelve months — well, that would be very naïve.
We didn’t march because we nourished some fantasy of sudden transformation. We marched because we were angry and afraid and ashamed. We marched out of an anguish we couldn’t bear alone, so we had to come together for a communal outpouring.
Not much has changed. But there have been some slender shreds of progress.
A year ago, I went to City Hall with thousands of fellow New Orleanians. Today, I went there with a few dozen.
It was one of those New Orleans days where it’s warm in the sunlight but bone-chilling cold in the shade, and City Hall casts a might big shadow.
I didn’t speak. I was a spectator. I watched and listened as Silence Is Violence held a press conference.
They read the names of all the people who have been murdered since January 11, 2007. Different people took turns reading. Everybody read the name of the victim (if known) and their age (if known). Some people read the method of murder too: “John Doe, 25, shot.”
Almost all the victims had been shot.
Then Nakita Shavers spoke, and Baty Landis, and Jake Hill, and Ken Foster. All the speakers were interesting, but Baty’s remarks got at the burning question: What progress has been made?
As I said, not much, but Baty highlighted the bright spots while acknowledging the challenges. She was polite and circumspect. She cited a number of public officials who had earned some respect by listening to the concerns of citizens.
Nagin was notable by his absence, both from the press conference and from Baty’s remarks. I heard from Leigh that he was giving a talk about sidewalk repair in the Quarter.
Afterward a guy with a sign that said TRUST JESUS started ranting/preaching while they were continued to read off the 200+ names of murder victims. It was quite disruptive and disrespectful and it just made me want to leave, so I did. As I got on my bike I looked back and saw Jake and some other guy had gotten the TRUST JESUS dude to quiet down. Good for them.
I rode home and painted some baseboards and trim.