“Adolescents” are savagely beating “artists” in New Orleans:
As he approached an interstate overpass, the division between St. Roch and his Marigny neighborhood, Martin heard laughter from a group of children, no older than 13 he believed. It was summer after all, and while dark, he didn’t think much of the roving group of middle schoolers, until he was struck from behind.
He was then thrown to the ground as the children kicked and slammed fists into Martin’s head and chest. Eventually, he was straddled by one of the kids and choked out until he fell unconscious.
While Martin is wary of calling the assault a hate crime, he does feel the rapid gentrification happening, in both the St. Roch and Marigny neighborhoods, could have something to do with his beating.
It was gentrification’s fault.
Bill Murphy, a local installation artist, was the second victim assaulted. He, too, was walking home when he was struck from behind, and knocked down. Murphy was then kicked and stomped on, similar to what happened to Martin, by a group of eight children.
“I don’t remember much,” Murphy said. “But when I woke up the next day I had a bunch of sneaker prints on my forehead.”
Another “adolescent” attack:
Coincidentally, he was on his way to support a Roots of Music Fundraiser, a local charity that helps at risk youth through mentorship programs and music education. And for years Brumfield himself had worked with elementary and high school students around that area as an art and ceramics instructor with, the now defunct Recovery School District.
Similar to the other two cases, it was completely dark when Brumfield heard a group of kids laughing, though he didn’t realize how much trouble he was in until he saw the dozen or so middle schoolers were armed with bats and large wooden sticks.
“Luckily I was paying attention and could run,” Brumfield said. “Once they caught me though, I had to crawl into the street to get away. They were hitting me the whole time.”
Brumfield’s pants were ripped down, in an attempt to emasculate him, and his feet and head were stomped on by the dozen or so teenagers, while others hit him with clubs. Before being knocked out, Brumfield even recognized some of his former students, from an elementary school he had taught at, perpetrating the beating. He was forced to crawl into oncoming traffic to get away, and the children only fled once they were confronted by the headlights of a passing car.
Weeks after the assault, Brumfield was still experiencing severe headaches and trauma and had moved to Baton Rouge to stay with family. He isn’t willing to write these children off as lost causes though and feels that poverty and systematic neglect have led to this escalation in violence.
“The real problem is that we’re failing the kids all over New Orleans. We’re failing them socially, educationally, in every way.” Brumfield said. “I’m watching kids in this city not get what they need again. It’s about poverty and it’s about kids and families that don’t have resources.”
We‘re failing them. They don’t have the resources to leave “artists” alone.