Showing posts with label Ray Nagin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ray Nagin. Show all posts

Friday, July 19, 2019

Let the Good Times Roll! Murder, Corruption, Abuse, and Negligent Homicide in South Louisiana

I was obsessed by Hurricane Barry, which, the media assured us, was going to overtop the levees and destroy New Orleans. Mesmerized, I watched the Weather Channel so much last week that I feel like I  should get an online degree in meteorology.

But Barry punked out on us with minimal damage so I turned my attention to reading the local news. So what's going on in South Louisiana?

Matthew Naquin, a former LSU student and fraternity member, was convicted of negligent homicide in the death of Max Gruver, an LSU freshman from Georgia. Gruver's Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers forced Gruver to chug hard liquor in a hazing exercise the frat boys euphemistically called "Bible study." Gruver died of alcohol poisoning, so full of booze that a testifying toxicologist said he was "a dead man walking." At the time of his death, his blood alcohol count was six times the legal limit for driving.

In other news, Ronn Jermaine Bell was arrested for the murder of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a local civil rights activist who was found suffocated in the trunk of her car. In addition to her civil rights work, Roberts-Joseph was a landlord, and Bell was two months behind on his rent. Was Roberts-Joseph killed over a rent dispute? A motive has yet to been determined.

Also in the news, police charged Salvatore Euggino with negligent homicide in a hit-and-run accident near St. Francisville. Police say Euggino killed a 50-year-old pedestrian with his car. This incident occurred on Monday, just one day after Euggino was charged with reckless driving in another incident. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, Euggino also faces negligent homicide charges relating to a head-on car accident last March that killed a 34-year-old woman.

Also this week, Sarah James, a 19-year-old LSU sophomore, was struck and killed by a car on Nicholson Road near the LSU campus.  Ms. James had a life full of promise ahead of her and wanted to be a doctor. The newspaper story didn't identify the car's driver.

Over in New Orleans, four police officers were fired for engaging in an unauthorized high-speed pursuit of some joyriders in a stolen car. Two teenage kids were killed when their car rammed into a hair salon. The hair salon caught fire and a woman inside was also killed.

And then today's Advocate reported that Moses Evans, a justice of the peace and former police officer, was arrested on a "litany of domestic abuse counts." According to the newspaper report, Evans is "accused of  brutally abusing his now ex-girlfriend and her three children over more than a decade, causing them severe injuries and permanent disfigurement."

Finally, Ray Nagin, New Orleans' telegenic mayor during Hurricane Katrina, lost the appeal of his conviction on charges of bribery and money laundering, rendered 5 years ago. The news story said Nagin wrote his appeal brief himself while serving time in a federal prison camp in Texas.

Much of the mayhem that occurs in South Louisiana takes place at the margins of society, and middle-class Louisianians don't think much about the murder, abuse, and corruption that the local newspaper reports on a daily basis. Laissez les bons temps rouler, we like to say. Let the good times roll!

But maybe Louisianans could do more as individuals to nurture a saner and healthier culture. Perhaps we could slow down a little bit, drive a little slower, drink a little less, try to be a little more civic-minded, and let the good times roll at a more moderate pace. Or maybe, to borrow a phrase from the immortal Merle Haggard, we'll keep our eyes closed to the pathological currents in our communities and continue to allow them to roll downhill like a snowball headed for hell.

"Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?"