People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

For Etienne Nachampassak

Posted by schroeder915 on January 11, 2007


In the march against crime to City Hall today, I am representing Etienne Nachampassak, a bubbly eleven-month-old who was mercilessly executed by a remorseless, boastful, jeering crackhead.

There really are bad people in this world.

It’s true that our society loses a lot of its youth through bad parenting, bad schools, a lack of opportunity, a lack of health care … a lack of care. A colleague said it well yesterday: the goal should be to eliminate violence in all the ways it’s manifested in our society. Nevertheless, if everyone used the excuse that they didn’t get same chances in this world that other people get, ninety percent of us would be criminals. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people who grow up in hardship, and who continue to struggle as adults working multiple jobs which don’t offer a living wage, don’t commit crimes. Yes, it’s true that some CEO’s should be treated by our society as criminals. It’s a tiny minority of people who decide to hurt other people. The majority of crimes are committed by repeat offenders.

It’s one thing to say that society doesn’t give everyone a fair chance in life. It’s entirely another thing to pick up a handgun, aim it at another human being, and pull the trigger. It’s entirely another thing to empty a gun into the backseat of a car carrying two beautiful babies and their mother. It’s entirely another thing to shoot a mother in the neck in front of her husband and two-year old son. It’s entirely another thing to execute a father in front of his children.

Yes, there really are bad people in this world.

We may lament the fact that society didn’t give them a fair shake, but we all exercise free will, and we all make choices. The choice to kill another human being is incomprehensible to me, but it is, in fact, a conscious, willfull choice. Once someone makes that choice, it no longer matters what school they went to, how society screwed them over, why they can’t get a decent job. When one person kills another human being, he has crossed over into another realm. What was a sociological problem, becomes a pathological problem. We have a response to that pathology: our criminal justice system.

I am extremely exasperated and offended by people who argue, for example, that more police won’t solve the crime problem. Who would argue that we don’t need more doctors to fight cancer, or heart disease, or AIDS? Who would argue that we don’t need more teachers to fight illiteracy? While it’s true that the police don’t play a role in fixing bad schools or in addressing any of the other conditions which breed criminals, their job is to place themselves between innocent people, and those who would rob them of their well-being, their freedom, and their lives. The police are the last line of defense. Try telling Paul Gailiunas that putting a police officer between his loving wife Helen Hill and the man who so callously gunned her down wouldn’t have solved the crime problem. Yes, there are problems with the police. They aren’t all model citizens, and some of them are sociopaths. Police organizations like the NOPD can be incredibly dysfunctional. Let’s address those issues separately. The vast majority of police officers really care about serving their communities and catching the bad guys. The vast majority of them would risk their own lives to save another human being. That, my friends, is really caring about your community. Yes, it’s true that the court system is broken in New Orleans. Yes, it’s true that jails aren’t institutions of reform. Yes, I’m sorry that some people turn to lives of crime — once they do, however, I want them off of my streets.

That’s the goal of today’s march against crime. We want the criminal justice system to work for us. We want our public officials to acknowledge our anguish. We want them to use the authority of their offices, and their professional experience, to solve the crime problem in New Orleans.

We should call for action to fix the other problems which breed criminals in another forum. Today, we should march in support of the police. We should march in support of a more effective criminal justice system. We should march for these things, because it would have made a difference to Helen Hill, Dinneral Shavers, Etienne Nachampassak, and the thousands of innocent victims of crime in New Orleans. We should march, because they can’t.


5 Responses to “For Etienne Nachampassak”

  1. Sophmom said

    Great post.

  2. katrinacrat said

    Sorry that I missed you there. I showed up and met Adrastos and Dangerblond after the rally.

  3. liprap said

    Well said.

    Very well felt.

  4. Amy said

    I have been thinking of this child also. I was coincidentally at childrens’ hospital when he was brought in, and I saw his family mourning and I still think of them and feel that loss. Thank you for remembering.

  5. I was there as well Amy. I think it was the most traumatizing experience anyone could possibly have to endure.

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