What I learned as an extra on Treme’

22 February 2010

1) Being an extra is extra-boring.

2) Parking in a lot with a security guard is no guarantee that your car won’t get broken into.

…Unless she’s dead

24 March 2009

The Times-Picayune does not identify alleged victims of rape.

So says the sad article about Fredy Omar’s trial for rape.

Then, you go to another article in the same section, and apparently because the guy “is accused of raping and strangling his 16-year-old daughter in 2003 after taking her along with him on a drunken binge,” and she died, they can identify her, along with a picture in the print version.

The Omar article is sick on so many levels.  I love the guy as a musician and really hope he didn’t do it, but I don’t want to doubt a victim’s story.  Still, even though they saw fit to refer to Omar as “Latin bandleader” and “Honduran born musician,” I see nothing of the other alleged perpetrator’s “plumber of Irish descent” background or whatever.

And what decade is it when the defense’s case centers on whether the victim was wearing underwear or was drunk?  None of that matters if he did what she didn’t want him to.

Red light ticket update

4 March 2009

After I got this ticket, I decided that because I had the day off (Ash Wednesday) to contest it, I would.  I expected to spend most of the day dealing with rude, incompetent people over this, but that wasn’t the case.  They weren’t exactly warm, but they got me in and out in less than half an hour.

The gist is this:  not only do they have the stills they send you in the mail, but they have video.  Don’t know how I didn’t know that, but I didn’t.  Don’t know if I could have seen the video ahead of time, but I didn’t.  So I walked in to my “judge” or whatever, and she shows me the video, and I admitted that I had no case.  I clearly didn’t stop before turning through the red light.  Guilty, your honor.

Now she didn’t laugh at me or act smug about getting me, and she even gave me another month to pay the ridiculous $130 fine.

So thanks to everyone who discouraged me from contesting it, but I’m glad to know what goes on.

I could use a little legal advice

1 February 2009

I just got my first (last?) ticket from those red light cameras we’re all so excited about.  I’ve read the arguments for and against them, but that’s not my issue.  I want to know if this one might be worth contesting.

That’s my blue car at the light in the pix below.  My argument would be that I was turning right, so it’s difficult to tell whether I came to a full stop or not.  Honestly, I don’t know, because sometimes I do just slow down and then turn if it’s clear.  But I would imagine that the camera catches anything going through the light on red, whether it’s a turn or not.  The pix are only 1.4 sec apart, but I can’t tell if I’m stopped in the first one or not.

This ticket is $130, which seems crazy to me, but I’m sure it’ll be a pain in the ass to contest it, so I’ll just grin and pay it if I don’t have an argument.  Anyone have any experience with this kind of thing or have a recommendation?


Disputed carjacking

20 March 2008

Got the following letter in my neighborhood association listserv.  Let me be clear that I don’t have any idea what happened here.  Honestly, I’d rather believe the student is lying, but the letter seems pretty compelling, and it’s not like our cops have never been wrong before.  So check it out and see what you think:

Subject: crime report- Please help me and forward this to everyone you know

Statement: March 19, 2008

I am the Tulane student who was recently kidnapped at gunpoint. That night  I left the Tulane campus where I had been studying until after 1 a.m.  I drove to my boyfriend’s house on Lowerline Street. After I got out of my car, I was jumped by a man holding a gun.  He was black and wore a hoodie sweatshirt. His hair was braided or dreadlocked. I did not know him. He aimed a gun at my head and told me to get into my car and drive. I begged him to instead take my purse or other belongings, but please let me go.  He said no, he was taking me, and said something like “everyone has their day”. He instructed me to take two lefts and drive down Broadway –towards Claiborne. I continued to beg him to take my belongings if he would let me out.  He said we would stop at an ATM, but later changed his mind. Since he did not seem interested in taking my valuables, I concluded that if I did not get away before we reached the highway, I would probably be raped and maybe killed.

I wondered if I should crash my car to get away. I started driving out of control.  At the intersection of Broadway and Freret, the kidnapper told me to climb over the seat into the back of the car.  Instead I bolted from the car and ran to the one other vehicle at the intersection. There was no question I would rather risk being shot in the back than stay with this man. I banged on the window of the other vehicle screaming: I am going to die … that’s my car … the man has a gun.  The occupants of the other car let me in. They were two Loyola students.  My kidnapper drove off in my car with all my belongings and my little dog.  It was these two Loyola students who saved my life.  Easily they could have driven away not wanting to risk their own lives to help me. I am so grateful.

To the best of my ability, I have cooperated with the New Orleans police department. I missed all my classes during the last week before spring break. Over the course of three interviews and numerous phone calls, I told the police everything I could think of that might help solve this crime. The day after the incident I spent hours talking with the detective, including telling him about some shady people who in the past were associated with my current boyfriend (bad white folks).  I am not sure if this connection had anything to do with my kidnapping, and I did not like getting my boyfriend involved, but I realized the need to pursue every possible lead even if this could put some one I care about in a bad light, and by association, put me in a bad light as well. I took the police to my boyfriend and asked him to reveal everything about those past associations even if not easy to do. These associations are not people I have known or was ever involved with.

On March 16th the police called and again asked me to come to the police station.  The detective said he wanted me to look at photos that may be of the kidnapper which photos he said had been taken at various establishments in the same area.  He also told me a similar crime occurred the previous night on Cohn Street. When I arrived at the police station I asked the detective about this other incident. He said it happened on Cohn Street up by Carrolton.  He said that  it also involved the  abduction of a girl, and that this other victim also escaped from a vehicle.  

After I accompanied the detective into the interrogation room, he told me he had something to tell me: that they think I am not telling the truth. The Detective said that they got an anonymous call through crimestoppers. He said the person who called in said I made up the story. I asked why would I do such a thing? He said they thought the situation was staged.  He acted like I must know the kidnapper. I was incredulous and angry. I insisted I did not make up this horrifying event, and later asked to take a lie detector test to prove I did not know my kidnapper and to prove the validity of the event I recounted. I was shocked to think he could imagine that I studied at school until after 1 a.m. then in the middle of the night staged some get away scene in front of one vehicle occupied by people I did not know.

The Detective said something like maybe you are mad at your school, or your parents, or your boyfriend, or maybe you knew the person and were there getting drugs and something went wrong in the deal. I responded that I love my school, family, and friends, and that I was not buying drugs, and I did not know the person who attacked me.

At some point one of the policemen started laughing. I asked how he could laugh and not take my kidnapping case seriously. He said they do take this case seriously and someone is going to prison and it may be me if I am not telling them everything I knew, or not being accurate. On Monday night I had been in danger of losing my life. Now I had to defend my integrity against my supposed advocates.

The detective said he made up the story about the kidnapping on Cohen Street to get me in to the police station. I said I had come in each other time when requested, why would I not come in this time. He later acknowledged that was true and assured me he felt I was cooperating with his investigation. I asked whether it was illegal what they were doing –that is,  telling me lies about another incident, as if to frighten me more. The detective responded something to the effect that it is not illegal for the police to tell stories: “being sneaky is our job.”

I asked the detective about the person who made the anonymous call who said I was making up this story.  I figured the call was made by someone connected to my kidnapper. The detective said that I could not find out, it was an anonymous call. I wondered if this call really happened or if it was another made up story that the police were using as part of their investigation.

I also asked the detective about the statements of the two Loyola students who witnessed my escape and rescued me. The detective said he had not interviewed them yet but that he was going to do it soon. I definitely was upset that, now six days after the kidnapping, he had not yet interviewed the only witnesses to this crime. Later that night I called the detective back and he said he had just interviewed these two girls and that their statement of events was almost word for word the same as mine.

The detective also told me that the anonymous caller said that I had also said the police are inept and stupid.   I have not said this, but now that the police are accusing me of being the bad guy and had not yet interviewed the two witnesses to the crime, clearly the case is not being pursued aggressively.

On March 17th I understand that NOPD held a press conference attacking my credibility. The person who held the press conference has never spoken with me.  I am in shock. How could anyone think that someone would lie about being kidnapped? And why would two Loyola students who I do not know corroborate my story? 

I continue to hear more accusations against me: like that I filed the police report for attention, that I am crying wolf, that I was probably involved in buying drugs from this guy, that I should not have been out alone late at night, that I should not be associating with friends who were, even in the past, associated with bad people or drug people. 

This abduction was the scariest thing that ever happened in my life. Now those who should be working to find the person who abducted me, are instead picking apart every word I said and when I said it, as if I had made up this entire incident.  When, in my distress, I called my detective to ask about the press conference that discredited me, he said that the statements about my case were being orchestrated by his superiors, that it was not his doing. He acknowledged I had been cooperating. I asked if he would make a public statement in support of me. He said he could not, that this would be against department policy.

I now keep wondering why the authorities announced in the press conference something about my breaking off communication and not cooperating. I voluntarily met with the police the night before the press conference and was on the phone with the detective the day of the press conference. I trusted the police. I never thought I, the victim, would need to hire an attorney to defend me. Now it seems almost as if the authorities want to put forth a justification for arresting me. Can this situation become more frightening?

Granted with all the unresolved violent crimes in the university area, the authorities have an incentive to down play what happened to me to curb the level of fear in our community. I can understand that motivation. And one anonymous call seems to have provided NOPD with the opportunity to discount my account of the incident.  Now I  understand why victims of violent crimes so often do not report the incident — out of fear of being abused by the legal process, as is now happening to me.

Please email this to every person you can. I am emailing this individually to last names.