Huh?

The early rain does not have me fuzzy-headed. I really do not understand what Stacy Head got pissed about, what was said and why she’s threatening Tambourine and Fan.

[Treme Community Center director Jerome] Smith brought about 200 children to the City Council Thursday to protest the actions of two New Orleans Police Department officers: Ashley Terry, who allegedly brandished a gun in front of dozens of Treme Center children, and David Ellis, who allegedly did nothing when he responded to a 911 call from the center. Terry has been fired and Ellis suspended.

I can see being taken aback by a protest of 200+ people, especially when the officers involved have been fired and suspended. But I can also understand Smith’s fury that a police officer acted that way in front of children and another seemingly brushed it off. Smith and the camp’s children are the injured parties here. Still, the officers have been punished. What’s the City Council supposed to do? I could easily be missing something here.

In the memo e-mailed Monday to the entire City Council and the mayor, Head said, “Given Gerome Smith’s blatantly racist statements made at last Thursday’s council meeting, . . . it would be entirely inappropriate to continue funding him,” she wrote. The memo said the city gave the program $32,687 in 2007 and $28,929 this year.

Specifically, Head said, she took issue with Smith’s statement that an officer responding to similar misconduct outside the Jewish Community Center in Uptown would have behaved differently.

“Generally police try to not get caught making mistakes,” Head said. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, it matters whether you are a member of the police department.”

Is it the T-P writing or is there really a link problem here? What did Smith say that was racist exactly? That Ellis may’ve reacted differently to Terry’s actions if she’d been in front of the JCC? Where’s the racism in that? (Does Head subscribe to the goofiness that when certain black people or any black person says “Jewish” that it’s a racist attack?) We are in an unequal society and city and certain places, groups, events, etc. get treated more seriously for multiple reasons, sometimes having to do with race—unpleasant but true. Saying that’s true doesn’t mean you agree with it. Or is Head saying it is “racist” to object to bad cop behavior? And her statement in defense of police officers is downright smarmy—they “generally…try to not get caught making mistakes” sounds like students generally trying not to get caught plagiarizing, which doesn’t change the ethical color of the “mistake.” And she’s saying with this that Terry make a mistake. Huh? I think the word “mistake” would be seen as taking the situation too lightly if this happened at JCC’s or Tulane’s or Loyola’s summer camps Uptown. (It’s not a stretch. Not that I think anyone at those camps would say that was just/right.) And shit, Terry acted like a lunatic. That’s more than a “mistake.” Or I guess Head meant that the “mistake” was in getting caught. Huh?

I can also see Head being caught off-guard and viscerally offended by Smith’s protest and thereby predispositioned to punishing Smith, and by extension the children who benefit from his center’s activities, for the discomfort caused and to prove to the beleaguered police that she is in total support of them no matter what they do or what mistakes they get caught at. Huh? I’m guessing here.

In Monday’s memo, Head also alleged that Smith physically threatened her and other council members by saying that if he was not allowed to speak, they would not be sitting in those seats in a week.

Smith said that he was merely speaking of unseating council members through political protest. “We can come down there and march and take over that City Council,” Smith said. “I’ve been beaten by the Klan, beaten in all sorts of instances. But no one has ever known me to punch or shoot or even spit at anyone,” he said.

I need video to understand this part. What did Smith do to threaten Head? Or did she feel his protest with all those kids in the chambers was a physical threat? Or that she or anyone else might be voted or protested out of office? Did she really see Smith as that big of a threat? To what? Throughout this, he sounds not like physical, political or social threat but a blowhard.

Head said she knew of Smith’s reputation. “I understand that Mr. Smith has a long history of being a civil rights leader, that he has a wealth of knowledge that he has imparted to children, and that there are many things about him that would be beneficial to our community,” Head said in a telephone interview. “But I cringed when I thought of what those children were being taught.”

Smith stood by his statements. “Yes, it’s about struggle,” he said. “Yes, we believe in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. You will not stop us,” he said.

Head also stood firm. “If Mr. Smith wants to say things in front of the City Council that are mean and hateful, he has the right. But I want an assurance that we as a city aren’t funding overt racism,” she said.

What were those kids being taught by going ot the City Council to protest? I didn’t know that going to city government, rightly or wrongly, was “overt racism.” Did she feel attacked as a white lady? Did or does she think that if she were a black council member that the protest wouldn’t’ve happened? What about the black council members present who were also targets of the protest? Or was it just about her? I’m still not getting this. What’s missing? I don’t get Smith’s statements either. The police officers were punished. The gun-wielding lunatic has been fired. I’m not sure what else Smith is looking for. The Council isn’t going to apologize for the actions of a couple police officers. For once, the system kind of worked. I’m baffled by everyone here.

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Funniest take yet on Derrick Sheppard’s stupid-assness:

Re: “State senator arrested in battery, theft,” Page 1, July 28.

I read with dismay the report in Monday’s paper of the arrest of a member of the Louisiana Senate, but it was the circumstances of the arrest, as reported by one of the arresting officers, that really caught my eye.

Police said two women were in Sen. Derrick Shepherd’s residence, and at the time of the arrest one of them was performing a lap dance for the recumbent incumbent. When I linked that fact with the $100 bill allegedly missing from his ex-girlfriend’s pocketbook the story started to come together.

Clearly, the senator doesn’t understand that most of the cabarets on Bourbon Street take credit cards. No need to raid someone else’s cookie jar for the odd dollar bill to pay for an amateur dance when you can slap down the plastic and high roll to your heart’s content.

This lamentable ignorance may be unique to Louisiana, because this past week New Orleans hosted the National Conference of State Legislatures, and I’m pleased to report that our sales numbers indicate that other states’ legislators and their staffs are better informed.

Robert Watters

Rick’s Cabaret

New Orleans

Be sure to see Oyster et al on Sheppard. All I have to say is—Damn, fool! How fucking stupid can you be? Out on bond, suspected of corruption and you throw rocks at the woman’s window, punch her in the stomach and steal her damn phone? And figure no one will give a shit? Then go back to the house outside the district you are supposed to live in where you have already been arrested by the FBI once so you can get your stress-relieving lap dance? I mean, damn.

******

first photo courtesy of MarkyBon, used under this Creative Commons license
second photo courtesy of Will Lion, used under this Creative Commons license

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6 Responses to Huh?

  1. Frolic says:

    Yeah, I’d like to hear a little more about what set Head off. The TP article doesn’t make it clear and it left me scratching my head. In an op-ed today, Jarvis Deberry raises in passing the possibility that Smith was being antisemitic:

    “Speaking of rich white folks, there’s a chance Smith is using ‘Jew’ as a replacement for ‘rich’ and thereby employing a tired old stereotype.”

    I wonder if that council meeting will run on cable. A lot of them do. They’re oddly fascinating spectacles if you have several hours to kill.

  2. G Bitch says:

    Maybe Head thought he was talking about her? She fits a couple “tired old stereotypes” herself. Maybe it was just bad reporting….

  3. CCGroovy says:

    Saw U BlogRolled at elle,phd. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYUMMM; was not aware of the relationship between dancers/menstruation. I guess U really do learn something new everyday. Was not aware of the Jerome Smith/Stacy head showdown until this week; as I am in Atlanta. However, I learned of it via the Lousiana Weekly. I receive a subscription here.

    U got some GoodStuff, HomeGirl. I’ll have to check U out more often.

  4. G Bitch says:

    CC, aren’t those dancers/menstruation stats a trip? I don’t know what they mean but theyt mean something.

    And thanks for finding me. You caught me at a low-productivity time but check out the archives. And other NOLA bloggers. There’s some real reporting going on out there. Me, I just talk my shit, y’know?

  5. matt olson says:

    it’s now almost july 2009 and i’m going back to figure out this whole incident, sort of as a response to the craze over stacy head’s email. i did have the good timing of turning on my tv with the city council hearing on and audio recorded it, including jerome smith’s speech. for the record, since it was a special session of the criminal justice committee, i’m not sure head was even there. at least, her voice is never heard. i guess for the threat to have meaning, she must have been. though midura, fielkow, hedge-morrell and carter are all audible. superintendent riley was present, responding to q’s in front of the council. at one point near the end, he even expressed that Jerome Smith was “great with kids.” for the record, the officer hadn’t been disciplined yet at the hearing. the investigation was still in the works. Jerome Smith’s impassioned speech could have had an effect on Riley in determining to fire the woman who brandished the gun, as well as his decision to fire the responding officer who didn’t arrest the officer after hearing several witnesses describe her unstable and near tragic actions.

    i’ll get back to you when i piece it all together in full. if you’re still interested. peace!

  6. G Bitch says:

    The troubling link between the email story and this Tambourine and Fan kerfuffle is Head’s vindictiveness—if someone disagrees with her or questions or objects or makes her uncomfortable, she gets mean, she wants revenge, and she sees her position, elected, not appointed, as power to be wielded when she gets angry. That’s the disturbing part. That these are not the only 2 incidents like this is important. Little gets done politically if you come off as a bully, even in NOLA.

    If you reach some conclusion, matt, do tell. My conclusion? A rabid dog lurks in her and she will hurt others before she hurts herself.

Comments welcomed. Really.