Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Following yesterday's grand jury decision not to indict white New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July chokehold death of black, unarmed Staten Island man Eric Garner, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
said "we are all responsible" for reconciliation and to "convert this painful moment" into positive change. Landrieu offered the following statement:
“America's promise pledges indivisibility and justice for all, yet we are divided by race, class and inequity. The most challenging issues on the streets of our cities are now on display. Instead of looking away, we must agree to face the problems in our justice system head on. We must ask ourselves why this country’s value of African American men and boys is not the same as their counterparts. In order to move forward and to have peace, we must agree that while we are not all at fault, we are all responsible for creating the reconciliation that is required. Together, we must convert this painful moment in our history into a beginning for meaningful change. In New Orleans and in cities across the country, this must happen in word and in deed.”
The grand jury decision followed a week after a grand jury's decision not to indict white Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. Following that decision, Landrieu said
, "In the United States we remain divided. Divided by race. Divided by poverty. We live a block away from one another, but are often a world apart. It is time for each of us, every American, to accept the fact that we must begin to acknowledge and discuss the most difficult issues we face. And we must agree to face them together."
This week, Landrieu announced committee members for the city's 2018 tricentennial planning
. One of the committees is the Racial Reconciliation Committee — chaired by Carol Bebelle, Flozell Daniels, Allison Plyer and Matt Wisdom — and will "find ways to bring people together to have a dialogue," Landrieu said at a press conference at Gallier Hall. "We will build relationships."
"The incidents in Ferguson remind us that race is a complex issue, that every city has to address. You can’t go around it, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it. I intend as the mayor of this city to lead that discussion," he said. "We will show the city and the country what racial reconciliation looks like in 2018."
Last night, New Orleanians rallied at Lee Circle and marched to Gallier Hall to protest the grand jury decision.