Thursday, June 02, 2005

Big Easy Is Uneasy ...

For the next few days, we will run portions of a recent article from the Los Angeles Times entitled "Big Easy Is Uneasy After Death of Black Clubgoer." The story was reported by Scott Gold, an L.A. Times Staff Writer, who "connected the dots" better than I have seen done by any local reporters.

NEW ORLEANS — The videotape seems to show just another night at Razzoo, a popular French Quarter nightclub known for three-for-one drink specials and raucous dance parties. But then, as the crowd parts, the tape shows three white bouncers pinning a black man to the ground.

When they rise, the man does not move. Later that night, Levon Jones Jr., 25, was pronounced dead.

The college student's death five months ago has become a flashpoint for New Orleans, plunging a city famous for its easygoing vibe into a painful period of introspection and antagonism.

The NAACP has called for a federal civil rights investigation into the death, the city has scrambled to write "use of force" guidelines for bouncers, and some African Americans have threatened to boycott the city. The death, meanwhile, has been followed by a series of racially charged controversies.

In March, a jury found the city's first black district attorney guilty of discrimination for firing 42 white employees and replacing them with blacks.

In April, Mayor C. Ray Nagin, an African American, said the ouster of schools Supt. Anthony Amato, a Latino, was a "lynching," while offering, at least at first, a response to Jones' death that many blacks called tepid.

Now, it seems that every piece of legislation that lands in City Hall becomes mired in race. When one city councilman recently proposed scrapping a rule requiring police officers to live in the city, the measure was seen by supporters as a way to make recruitment easier. But many blacks have condemned the plan, fearing that new recruits would be suburban whites.

Enmity and distrust have grown so deep that some white community activists trying to participate in a recent antiracism demonstration were ordered to leave by black activists.

Tomorrow we will hear from local political figures and begin to project where this situation is headed.

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1 Comments:

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2:47 AM  

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