by Jeff Thomas
The challenges facing the NOPD have gone from bad to oh-ohhh. The daily risks and perils faced by citizens due to actions of police officers have grown astronomically. With the recent shooting of an unarmed suspected drug dealer and the strange circumstances surrounding the killing of another man after a routine traffic stop, New Orleans may be on the verge of unprecedented violence that may shake the very fibers of the city.
On the heels of a massive murdering rampage by officers and a pernicious subsequent cover-up that was only exposed after a federal investigation, the department needed a period of good, professional police work resulting in lowered crime rates and safer streets for the citizens. Instead, crime is up and despite the latest survey by the New Orleans Crime Coalition, recent demonstrations on City Hall and NOPD headquarters show a community more restless and upset than in recent memory.
The killing of Justin Sipp after an early morning traffic stop raised many concerns, but the hullabaloo was mitigated by the fact that Sipp fired 14 rounds and wounded two officers. Yet the police version of the story – on his way to work, Sipp, a passenger in the stopped car, got out and tried to waylay three police officers – harkened to tales of the invented murderous civilian mob on the Danziger Bridge that police fabricated to hide the murder and mayhem committed by the murderous police mob on the bridge.
Five officers were convicted and five other officers pled guilty to killing two people on the bridge and attempting to cover up their deeds. In that case, police planted evidence and lied on innocent citizens who were victims of a widespread culture of corruption and an apparent hatred for the citizens they swore an oath to serve and protect.
So even though police claim Justin Sipp opened fire and wounded two officers, the citizens of New Orleans have heard NOPD stories before. And though the officers shot will live, Sipp is dead after what allegedly started as a routine traffic stop.
The killing of an unarmed and only partially clothed young man who lived in the home of a suspected marijuana dealer has really stressed the community. The march on City Hall and police headquarters by friends, relatives and other concerned citizens is a glimpse of the level of dissatisfaction with the current political establishment.
New Orleanians parade freely, but clearly expect to be entertained in return for their presence. However, getting New Orleanians out to parade without the requisite trinkets thrown from floats should make the administration take notice.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu initially expressed no concern for the Sipp family’s loss; instead, he hailed the wounded officers as heroes. The mayor’s apparent disconnect from the average African American family was tempered as he was more remorseful after Wendell Allen was killed in his home by NOPD officer Joshua Colclough, who was part of a strike force that was serving a search warrant on the home.
The lack of professional policing in New Orleans endangers us all, but especially young African American men, who are the only victims of police killing. In the last 10 years, 100 percent of all citizens killed by police have been African American males.
Some officers have been sentenced to jail terms, but the African American community is beginning to fight back. Let’s hope the good citizens of our city get involved and calmer heads prevail.
As the police have gotten more and more trigger happy, the Sipp shooting might be a harbinger of reactions to come. Young white police fear young African American men. Young African American men have a right to protect themselves. Who will shoot first?
Jeff Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.