Thinking of Algiers tonight

Posted on Monday 22 May 2006

I had a comment today on a post I wrote in January, telling me about recent shootings on the Point – including the officer that was shot today on Opelousas.

A 25-year-old New Orleans police officer was undergoing surgery at Charity’s Trauma Center after being shot at least twice during a traffic stop in Algiers, Police Superintendent Warren Riley said.

I don’t know what to say. There have been quite a few violent incidents in the last couple of months in Algiers, and every time — every time — the story jumps up out of the monitor and smacks me…. but this one hits me on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve tried to reach out directly to Algiers, or the Point. I have no idea, unfortunately, how many still visit Polimom… but I’m missing them right now.

Polimom needs to talk to you, Algiers. Just for a minute, before the daily pressures and events come back tomorrow for everyone, and this quiet moment is lost.

I’m sorry, Algiers. I’m so very sad things are dangerous again. I’m horrified and appalled that an officer is in surgery tonight, and my heart goes out to him and his family. And I’m devastated that the cycle seems to be starting back up — that painful, relentless and paralyzing pattern of violent crime.

I desperately want the City to be safe — a place in which children can grow up, people can go about their business, and neighbors can walk their streets.

But of course, Polimom cares directly and personally about Algiers…. so if you’re still out there, I just want you to know: I’m thinking of y’all tonight.

10 Comments for 'Thinking of Algiers tonight'

    May 22, 2006 | 10:06 pm

    I’m still reading. I found you during those days when I desperately wanted information on my home. I read all throughout the rest of the year for your information and insight on the city. I still read daily because I am interested in what you say about the world, and because you care so much about New Orleans. I often feel that there are so many in this country who have forgotten, but I know you haven’t.

    May 23, 2006 | 6:23 am

    I’m here as well. Came for news after Katrina, stayed because of your thoughtful, reasoned postings. We’ve been displaced to Missouri, have a house in Algiers that is rented to relatives who lost theirs. The rising levels of violence are telling us to keep the kids in school here in the Heartland for the next six years. Going back is becoming less and less appealing. My heart is heavy. Thanks for sharing the burden.

    May 23, 2006 | 9:11 am

    Thanks, M and KB. I’m so very glad to hear from you.

    I was crying when I wrote last night, and it’s been a long time since such emotion snuck up on me like that. (Though it happened all the time, it seemed like, right after the storm.)

    There’s so very much at stake, and it’s hard to watch some of this start back up.

    May 23, 2006 | 11:23 am

    We just moved off the Point, as you know. We did it because of the inconvenience of the commute, mostly. There were other considerations as well, but interestingly fear was not among them. This really is a tragedy. This officer is just a kid.

    You know how instrumental you were in getting my husband and I back here to help (although you didn’t like that you were!!) We came home because we felt it was important to help, and we did that. My husband still feels that it was the best thing we ever did in our lives (except rear our daughter). We will always thank you for that.

    I am worried, very worried about Algiers. The demographic changed, the neighborhoods changed, after the storm. The primary reason was that so many didn’t come back, whether they were renters or owners. As a result, the close little blocks that every one knew everyone else pre-K disappeared. There definitely was a change in the drug trade, it was far more obvious than before the storm. Although I’m glad we moved, for our other reasons, I still hate to see Algiers being the headline once a week, and a headline that’s covered in blood and bullets.

    I truly hope Dist 4 cops can change this tide before it becomes a tsunami.

    May 23, 2006 | 2:42 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Slate. I was scared to death that people were making decisions like yours based in part on my blog. I can’t tell you how that made me question everything I wrote, for accuracy and objectivity (as much as possible, given those emotional days…)

    Just curious — given that you’ve moved across Da River now — how does it feel, comparatively, to Algiers in terms of safety?

    May 23, 2006 | 5:05 pm

    I never felt unsafe in Algiers. I don’t feel unsafe here either, although according to some there are two roving bands of kids with 2×4′s that like to bash people upside the head for no reason (generally there is no theft, except in one case where a laptop was taken.) I heard about this before we moved here, supposedly happening within a 4 block radius of my house, but I haven’t seen them. I believe they exist, I’ve heard so many talk about having seen them, or knowing someone who got hit, and one guy took pics w/his cell phone, posted them online then sent them to the police.

    It’s strange. I’ve lived in big cities a lot. There are some places one knows not to go, like Central Park at night or the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park., so you don’t go there. There are places like that here too. I tend to pay attention to my surroundings, but again, have never ever felt fear on either side of the River.

    I am terribly concerned about the Algiers situation though. As I said earlier this year, the divide between Opelousas and the “rest of Algiers” was wide then, and it seems that the divide is widening but the proximity of problems isn’t. One couple we know lives on Olivier. They were right at ground zero for the SWAT team incident two weeks ago. I fear that there will be a very militant view taken by the residents there, and unfortunately a lot of it will come down along racial lines.

    On this side, although I see and hear some of that, most of the issues people have are with the little Goth kids they call “gutter punks.” Evidently some of them can get pretty aggressive with their panhandling.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I really think that what we’re seeing is an upswing in emotional instability, an upswing in financial problems (i.e. rent’s higher, less money generally), and a downsizing of the population. Where some of these problems might have sort of been lost in the swirl of activity prior to the storm, now it really sticks out. Many of the problems existed prior to K, but with such a small population now, and the neighborhoods substantially changing in a matter of months, it’s more obvious and ominously, appears to be getting worse.

    There is a forum on the state of NOLA mental health May 31 at Oswald’s on Decatur. I’m going. I want to hear what other people are saying about this and how it is or is not having an effect on crime.

    May 24, 2006 | 9:59 am

    I don’t know about the rest of Algiers and maybe I’m being naive, but crime in the Point (at least the river side of Opelousas) seems to be about the same since I moved here in 1999. It certainly feels no more dangerous than it did in the summer of 2001 when I was held up at gunpoint on Pelican. I was one of 14 people mugged over a two week period by the same group.

    I do think there is a greater sense of community now. While I am deeply saddened at seeing some great people and close friends leave, I am encouraged by the many I’ve met who have recently moved to the Point specifically because of this sense of community.

    The incident with the SWAT team on Alix earlier this month is extremely unpleasant, but is something that could and does happen in Anywhere, USA. The police were trying to remove a mentally unstable person from his home and things got violent.

    May 24, 2006 | 10:36 pm

    We moved from the Point 3 years ago due to the military. We miss the neighborhood very much but wanted a better place (schools , etc) to raise our kids. We rent our house, which is around the corner from the Alix house where the SWAT incident took place. Ms. Vera (the old lady who lives there) is a very sweet lady beu her children were always trouble and that was bound to happen – and does not reflect on the crime problem in the Point. It’s a great neighborhood that I still feel intimantly (sic) connected to and hope it will only get better with time.

    Linda Neale
    May 28, 2006 | 3:10 pm

    I think Slate has hit the nail on the head. We are having an upswing of mental instability. The FEMA money is running out. Rents are ridiculous. I have seven people in my house right now, because there is a lack of affordable housing. The demographics of the Algiers area have changed. Drug use is soaring. I’m just hoping that the law-abiding citizens of this area still outnumber the criminals. We might have a positive effect on them. Ever the optimist huh…

    December 28, 2007 | 4:18 pm

    I still read you, polimom.

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