And Another Thing… with Anitra Brown

The video of NOPD officers doing the Wobble on Mardi Gras Day has garnered plenty of interest in the days following the city’s annual festivities. And there was a part of me that really wanted to smile and enjoy the merriment of it all. There was a tiny part of me that too wanted to say “only in New Orleans” or “that’s what makes this city so great.”
But I couldn’t.

I thought about sharing it on The Tribune’s Facebook page and even sharing with friends on my personal page. But before I could push that button, I thought again. I just couldn’t. I wouldn’t—and not because there is not something intrinsically charming and whimsical about such a display. Of course there is. It is just that these days, charming and whimsical simply don’t do much to impress me.

They shouldn’t impress you either.

Don’t get me wrong. I can concede that the officers in the video—as far as I know—are honest public servants dedicated to the city and its residents. I will even say that they have some pretty good moves as line dancing goes. But their impromptu display (if it was in fact impromptu) doesn’t make up for some deep-seeded problems in our local criminal justice system—many of which NOPD is at the heart. Forgive the conspiracy theorist in me. I try to keep her quiet, but she has a mind of her own. And somehow I imagine officers being recruited for line dancing class by Chief Ronal Serpas and Mayor Mitch “The Wobble King” Landrieu so that they can dance in public at Mardi Gras and other public gatherings as a thinly-veiled, good will PR effort. At any rate, impromptu or staged, our city’s problems cannot be danced away. And that’s my point. I guess I am just tired of distractions, and this was one.

There are still too many unanswered questions, too many wrongs that may never be righted for me to delight in a dance—no matter who’s doing the dancing. We don’t need cops that now how to do the Wobble or the Cupid Shuffle or the Hustle or G-Slide or the Bunny Hop. What we need are cops that don’t shoot innocent civilians or try to cover for other cops that do. I would be way more impressed if Travis McCabe, whose conviction in the Henry Glover case was recently overturned, wasn’t able to Wobble his way back into NOPD. But he did just that—with back pay.

I would be ecstatic if the five officers convicted in the Danzinger Bridge killings didn’t manage to Electric Slide their way to vacated verdicts and eventually new trials thanks to gross prosecutorial misconduct on the part of a couple of former assistant U.S. attorneys. But they have.

Would somebody please Cupid Shuffle over here and tell me what has happened in the investigation into the questionable death of Justin Sipp, a young Black man who was on his way to work in the early morning hours when he was killed by police officers after a traffic stop?

I will get up and do the Cha-Cha Slide my-doggone-self if there could finally be some justice for Wendell Allen, the college student killed in his family’s Gentilly home by an NOPD officer during the serving of warrant.

So no, let’s not get distracted by dancing cops—no matter how amusing their antics might be. Too many wrongs . . . not enough rights, to be sure. Dancing cops on Mardi Gras Day or any other day does about as much to impress me as dancing mayors do.

The New Orleans Tribune

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