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Sep 23, 201309:37 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

Danziger Bridge: A Tragedy Replayed

Beginning with the death of innocent people and the hurt inflicted on their families, what happened on the Danziger Bridge in the wake of Katrina was already tragic enough, but the saga became even more painful with the human drama of police officers caught in a bad situation.

In the days after the storm, approximately 200 police officers walked out on their jobs; most would subsequently be fired but at least they have not been sitting in a prison like those who answered the call to the Danziger Bridge.

We know that two citizens were shot and killed. We know that the incident does not seem to have been premediated murder but a horrible over reaction.

Up to this point a case could be made of an accident caused by policemen facing nearly unbearable pressure. Here the case could have ended, not happily but with some resolve. Yet there is one other factor that seems evident: There was apparently a cover-up. That is not a crime that is done by accident but by intent.

Last week a federal judge ordered a retrial of the Danziger case citing prosecutorial misconduct linked to those now infamous website postings by former prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Though there is no evidence that the jury was swayed by those postings the judge was irked enough to call for a replay.

So, the whole discussion about Danziger will likely start anew. If the next trial ends with another conviction, someone will say that the verdict brings “closure” to the case though I have never understood how the emotional strain of a lost love one can ever be closed. Nor will there really be closure for the defendants if there is an acquittal or no trial. They will have the rest of their lives to think about what happened on the Danziger Bridge.

Those officers are victims, too; in their case they were failed by a city government and a police department that was rudderless as the city seemed to be falling apart. There was no one to take control; no one to provide an example; no one to say, “stop.”

Far from closure in the Danziger case, perhaps the door should always be left slightly open.



BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is due to be released Oct. 31, 2013. It is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.




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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde


Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.




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