Without a black population, would New Orleans still be known as the murder capital of the USA?
Among young Black men in New Orleans, murder exacts a devastating toll: At current rates, 1 in 14 will be slain before they reach 35, by John Simerman, NOLA.com, February 3, 2023
Two young men lay flat on the pavement, faces up, feet pointed at the other, motionless.
A wild shootout had just ended at noon on a Sunday outside the courtyard of an apartment complex on Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East, with no victor.
Justin Ganier was lined up in a parking stall, sneakers propped against a yellow curb, dead at age 23. Robert Moody, 25, wasn’t far behind, shot 17 times and bleeding through his clothes in a scene posted to Instagram.
The sudden, violent deaths of two young Black men settled a dispute that began the previous evening and escalated that morning — an eruption over baked treats, witnesses told police. Moody lived there with his girlfriend, who had invited a friend, Ganier and the couple’s young boy to stay.
“They cooked my son’s cinnamon rolls,” said Moody’s mother, Christy Dorsey, recalling a homicide detective’s account. “My son went off about the cinnamon rolls. ‘Why you cookin’ my stuff?’ So my son cooked the girl’s cookies. The cookies got burnt. So the girl told my son, ‘You must can’t read.’ ”
Moody had a stutter, and that kind of wisecrack would get to him, said his stepfather, Eddie Tillman. Witnesses told police he threatened to kill the woman. Moody and his girlfriend left for Walmart. “The girlfriend said she tried to defuse it,” Tillman said.
When they returned from the store, Ganier, who had been at work, was there with his mother, packing up. The two men traded words before the gunfight.
One witness described it as “like ‘The Matrix,’ ” as both men fired from feet away while rolling on the ground. Police deemed Moody the perpetrator and first to fire, counted it as one murder and cleared two homicides as solved.
To Tillman, the deadly shootout a year ago seemed to epitomize a familiar escalation among armed young Black men in New Orleans, a deadly game of chicken that he said he urged his stepson to avoid by stashing his gun.
“It’s like you won’t back down,” he said. “You got two people carrying guns for protection, so you’re not scared to use it. So he knows he’s strapped, and he knows he’s strapped. It’s a thing of, ‘You gonna use it or not?’ ”
In the nation’s most murderous city, young Black males are getting killed at rates reserved in most other places for diseases affecting the elderly.
Close to half of New Orleans’ 265 murder victims last year were Black males ages 15 to 34, police data shows. Over the past three years, 1% of that cohort was murdered in the city. At that rate, 1 in 14 Black youths in New Orleans will be slain before they reach 35.
The murder rate for that group was nine times higher than for everyone else in New Orleans last year. It was higher than the rate at which local seniors die from strokes, the third leading cause of death for New Orleanians 65 and over, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows.
New Orleans police data on murder suspects suggests that a similar, slightly younger cohort of Black males is doing the bulk of the killing.
The grim numbers add up to what many view as a ballooning public health crisis, a contagion of deadly violence that has gripped New Orleans over three straight years, with an outsized toll on young Black males.
Nearly all young Black males who are murdered in New Orleans were shot, and the frequency of shootings in that population is increasing sharply, state trauma data shows.
At current rates, Black males who live in New Orleans from ages 15 to 24 have about a 1 in 8 chance of showing up shot at University Medical Center over that perilous decade of life.
Social media, where threats and violence are broadcast in an instant, has “compressed the feedback loop” for violence among youths, Francois said.
“It’s developing into a belief that, ‘This is an acceptable thing in my community, in the people I identify with. This is an acceptable way of dealing with challenging stuff in my life or when I feel like I might be challenged,’ ” she said.
Had the American Colonization Society been successful in its intent, would New Orleans have more than five murders per 100,000 people?
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