Thanksgiving weekend, which is supposed to herald a season celebrating peace and goodwill, has concluded with bloodshed in New Orleans that left 17 people shot between Sunday and Monday morning, with three of the victims losing their lives.
Ten of the victims fell during a mass shooting on Canal Street Sunday morning, bringing carnage to an iconic Crescent City thoroughfare already decked out in ribbon and wreaths for the holidays.
The violence in New Orleans also came at the end of Bayou Classic weekend, which is meant to be a time of fun and fellowship around a match-up between two celebrated sports rivals, Southern and Grambling universities. Sunday’s violence on Canal Street marked the second time that a Bayou Classic weekend has been marred by a mass shooting. In 2016, a shooting on Bourbon Street left nine people injured and one victim dead.
In Baton Rouge last month, residents witnessed their own exercise in irony. On Veterans Day weekend, an occasion to reflect on the ravages of war, four people died of gunshot wounds in separate incidents, bringing home a sobering reality. Here in Louisiana, as in other parts of the country, our own streets have too often come to resemble battlefields — and there appears to be no end in sight. A shooting in Baton Rouge on Monday left the victim injured, adding to a grim tally of suffering.
At a news conference in New Orleans on Monday, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said Sunday’s Canal Street incident stemmed from a feud involving people from Louisiana but not local to New Orleans. "We will be holding these people accountable, and they will not be free to walk these streets," he said.
We hope he’s right. Even so, the question remains, one not easily answered by anyone inside or outside of government. Why would the perpetrators of such violence think so little of human life?
“There’s really no rhyme or reason to it,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said after last month’s violence in his city.
These are tragedies that law enforcement officials confront as first responders, but the problem of gun violence cannot be law enforcement’s alone, nor can it be fully resolved by any agency of government.
This weekend’s shootings underscore depravity that has, sadly, been a part of the human condition for ages.
The holiday season, which carries with it the promise of light piercing the darkness, offers something we would seem to need now more than ever.