Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sorry for the Long Delay

The title says it all. Things have been hectic down in the Big Easy (that's New Orleans, right), in fact they've been awesomely hectic. I love work. I get a lot of work that I feel is incredibly interesting, but also prevents me from having the time to blog as often as I'd like.

That being said, I want to speak a little about some of my experiences with law enforcement down here. Some of it has been very pleasant. There are truly law enforcement agents down here who want to help us out. Take for example, Jovanna Cardova, who works at the House of Detention Legal Office. I caught Jovanna leaving building and she stayed overtime to help me get the records I needed to write a bail reduction motion. Jovanna Cardova is an ally.

The military police officer I had this conversation with is not an ally:

I try to walk to the jail, referred to as HOD (House of Detention) but come to a fence and am not sure the quickest way around. I approach a military police officer and a regular (in the most pejorative sense) police officer in a squad car with a presumably recent arrestee in back.

Me (speaking to military officer): Can you please tell me how to get to HOD?

Private Pile: What, where are you going?

Pejoratively Regular Officer: What does he want?

Private Pile: I don't know, they said they're going to HIV or something.

Pejoratively Regular Officer (laughs): Oh, HOD. I'm not sure.

Me: Thank you.

My thoughts: are you kidding me? HIV? You really thought I was saying HIV? and you don't know where HOD is? Then where the hell are you taking THAT PERSON YOU JUST ARRESTED YOU MORONS!? (can I swear on this blog? I was thinking swears at the time. No one ever actually thinks the word 'moron,' do they?)

That would be funny, except these are the people in charge of justice in this city.

It's thus not surprising that justice usually means stopping an impoverished black man under the pretense of "public intoxication," patting him down, and hoping to find drugs. If you do find drugs, and this person already has been convicted of 3 felonies (most likely all non-violent, drug possession charges), putting him away possibly for life. Was this person intoxicated in the first place? Who knows? But they were reasonably suspiciously drunk I guess. And in a "high crime area." And they have a darker complexion than the Commish so that pretty much takes the cake.

The real question is: why are there laws against public intoxication in a city that sections off blocks every night for people to get drunk on and allows people to drink outside anywhere in the city?

That is not a rhetorical question. The answer is: it provides yet another reason for the police to legitimize patting down poor black people.

Totally Insane Fact of the Week: If you are five times prosecuted for marijuana possession you get 20 to life.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Interactive map of NOLA flooding

So, I was referred to this great website that steps through what exactly happened when during the flooding. It really was a complicated process with failures on many fronts. Whether those failures were due to poor levees or inevitability...we may never know.