The New Orleanian Abroad


by Sam Winston

Here's a tally of my proximity to death and violence in New Orleans within the last year.

A longtime family friend was choked unconscious for his wallet in the Marigny at 5 p.m. after leaving work last month. Another friend driving in Algiers had bricks thrown at his car windshield. I myself heard gunshots on two separate nights sitting in my apartment on Nashville Avenue in Broadmoor. A young friend committed suicide due to a battle with depression. There was a person murdered

a block from my parents house uptown, where I grew up, and there was also recently a non-fatal shooting outside the Langenstein's Grocery store just two blocks away. A friend working at Le Bon Temps on Magazine street had a bullet graze his ear after watching the first two kick up the gravel at his feet. Apparently neighborhood dealers were trying to send a message to the bar after they had been chased off earlier. Two other close friends were awoken one night to a gun battle on their front porch between police and criminals in mid-city. A few months later, a teenager was shot dead on their block.

Writing for Gambit I also heard a mother who lost both of her sons to street violence within a month of each other cry from the very bottom of her soul just days after her second son was murdered. I've looked into the eyes of people who were scared and angry, and had decided that getting a gun was their best option. Working a few days on the recent 48 hours piece on murder in New Orleans, I felt the pain and loss from friends of Helen Hill and Dinerral Shavers. Seeing the bullet holes and some leftover blood on the wall is nothing compared to listening to someone try and process that a loved one has been violently taken from them.

I struggled with comprehending the violence in New Orleans just about everyday . In the end, I defended the city and hoped for the best. I had no other choice. However, now that I'm away temporarily, I can see just how dysfunctional the violence is and how easy it is to rationalize it all. There's only so much one can take.

I don't have any answers. Except maybe to do your own tally and ask yourself if that's acceptable to you.

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