A Shooting Breaks Out, But National Coverage Is Slow To Follow

Imagine being at a parade on Mother’s Day in your neighborhood enjoying yourself. People are dancing and singing and just having a good time. Now imagine a shooting breaks out and people in your vicinity are shot and wounded. Sounds like a pretty frightful experience. This scenario needs no imagination for it’s exactly what happened at a second line celebration in New Orleans last weekend.

Violence has been a problem in New Orleans for a few years now since the rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Still, it’s disheartening to hear 19 people wounded in a shooting when their only crime was enjoying a parade on Mother’s Day of all days. Perhaps even more troubling however, is the lack of national media attention this shooting received.

I remember seeing the word ‘New Orleans’ trending on Twitter that following Sunday evening, and CNN did mention the shooting in their nightly newscast, but within a couple of days it seemed to blow over. At a time when guns and gun ownership is a hotly debated topic in our nation, you would think a shooting at such a public event would warrant more attention. But it didn’t. Sadly, this lack of attention about the causes and circumstances behind these crimes has too often been missing in dealing with communities of color.

On December 14, 2012 the United States experienced one of the most horrific gun tragedies in our history when 26 people were killed during a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This event lead to a lot of grieving, soul searching and questions about the safety of our children in schools across America. What followed was a speech by President Obama later that month in Newtown, as well as public pressure on legislators to enact stiffer gun laws.

As horrific a tragedy as Newtown was, I wonder where was this concern and outrage when 50 people were shot in one weekend in Chicago during the summer of 2012? Much like the shooting in New Orleans, the national coverage was brief and it seemed that everyone just moved on with their lives after a few days. There was no public rebuke of the NRA or national discussion on gun control. Matter of fact, there wasn’t much of anything following the shootings. I couldn’t help but think when Obama finally did address the issue of gun violence in Chicago last February following the death of Hadiya Pendleton, why didn’t he give this speech last summer before Newtown, when it would have been just as pertinent?

That’s why I give a lot respect to Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel for discussing the recent shooting in New Orleans and giving this story the in-depth and critical coverage it deserves.You may be surprised at one particularly shocking statistic as well in relation to gun deaths in Louisiana. Check out the videos below.


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Howard University Students Making A Difference in Chicago

Gun violence has been a hot topic here in the United States since the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December. As horrible as that was, the violence has been unrelenting in one of America’s largest cities — Chicago.

Through the first two months of 2013, Chicago is on pace to surpass last year’s dubious total of more than 500 murders. Regardless of where you fall in the debate on gun control, clearly there is a serious problem at hand. Just this week, a 6-month old baby girl was shot and killed as her father changed her diapers.

That’s why it’s good to hear students from Howard University going into local Chicago high schools this week and talking with students about the importance of college, education, and being a positive impact in the community. Take a look.


When Violence Goes Viral: The Social Repercussions of Standing By

Earlier this month, a man was pushed down a subway tunnel and could not be saved. But his snapshot was.

That event sparked not only every New Yorker’s most subconscious fear -standing too close to the edge of a platform and being pushed over- but also outrage for the lack of action taken to save a man fighting to get out of the path of an oncoming train. The most glaring outrage was directed at photographer R. Umar Abbasi, for taking a photo of the man just before he was struck by the train. The NY Post would publish the haunting photo the next day.

This isn’t the first instance of video or photos showing a person in danger.

In October, a video went viral of a Cleveland bus driver getting into an argument with a female passenger. The argument escalates and then the uppercut from hell is unleashed.

By videotaping this incident, it went from an outrageous event on a Cleveland bus, to leading newscasts, to trending on Twitter and in the process became one of 2012’s top web sensations. Police were called and the bus driver subsequently lost his job. Violence being filmed and recorded for the pleasure and delight of others is not just limited to Cleveland however.

In January 2011, Allen Haywood was waiting for his train at a metro station in Washington, D.C. As the video shows, two kids come from out of nowhere and begin pummeling the man. Haywood is understandably stunned as to why he is being attacked. He even screams at the girl who is attacking him: “I have done nothing to you!”

Even sadder is the fact there appears to be a group of kids in the background just laughing while filming the incident on their cell phones. Haywood says none of the kids came to his assistance, nobody called for help and that other people on the platform did nothing. A few days later, Haywood returned to that same metro station and held up a sign saying, “I WAS ATTACKED AT L’ENFANT METRO SUNDAY AT 7:15 PM. NO ONE HELPED. PLEASE BE CAREFUL.”

All of these cases leave one wondering when did we become a society more concerned about capturing the next punch or assault on video, as opposed to actually putting down the cell phone and doing something about it? What moral and ethical questions are there as bystanders in these situations? It is one thing to not want to get involved in an altercation for fear you yourself might get injured. It is entirely different however, to do nothing at all. Things to think about…