new orleans: drumbeats of justice, interrupted.
A New Orleans prosecutor's decision yesterday to dismiss the case against David Bonds, the accused murderer of brass-band musician Dinerral Shavers, is disappointing to those of us who've followed this story. But to anyone familiar with issues of crime, law enforcement and judicial process in New Orleans, it should come as no surprise.
The wave of homicides that swept through New Orleans in late December and early January claimed among its victims Shavers, the 25-year-old snare drummer of the Hot 8 Brass Band and a teacher who had established Rabouin High School's first-ever marching band. Shavers was the sort of fine and gifted young man that made others proud to dance behind him in a second-line, that made mothers happy to send their children to his school, that inspired his very young son, who now often plays at Hot 8 performances, to pick up drumsticks and follow his daddy's example.
Shavers's short life was notable in a city filled with tales of empowered resilience, his death tragic even in an environment filled with unnecessary strife. If there's any good to come from such tragedy, it's the attention one hopes it draws to the complex of problems surrounding law enforcement in New Orleans, chiefly the fear that prevents so many witnesses from testifying against violent criminals and the many current inhibitions to a smooth relationship between police, courts, and the communities they serve.
One clear bright spot has been the citizen action group, Silence is Violence, which formed shortly after Shavers's death, with the drummer's sister Nakita among its leaders. Here's her nuanced statement about the situation, on the organization's website.
And here's the report in the The Times Picayune.
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