Monday, February 05, 2007

"It's messed up around here"

The NYT assesses the violent-crime problems of New Orleans:

Other cities have plenty of murders. But only in New Orleans has there been the uniquely poisoned set of circumstances that has led to this city’s position at the top of the homicide charts. Every phase of the killing cycle here unfolds under the dark star of dysfunction: the murderers’ brutalized childhoods, the often ineffectual police intervention, a dulled community response, and a tense relationship between the police and prosecutors that lets many cases slip through the cracks.

Hurricane Katrina’s devastation loosened the fragile social restraints even further, making the city perhaps more dangerous than ever.

Toward the end, there's this:
Most of the violence involves black men killing other black men. Out of the 161 homicide victims last year, 131 were black men. Most of the suspects were also black men.

When the pattern of black-on-black violence is occasionally broken, white fear and outrage are redoubled. This happened earlier this month after the killing of a white filmmaker, when thousands of people marched on City Hall to demand change, a majority of them whites.

One might also speculate that when the pattern of black-on-black violence is broken, the New York Times decides to order up a long piece on the situation. But still. It's worth reading.