The New Orleans police force was a whipping boy during much of a public hearing last night on discrimination, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Several speakers said the force has failed to discipline its own, and that black residents are too often stereotyped as criminals by police officers who harass them. For most of the meeting, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass sat stone-faced, but when Salaam Jihad took the microphone, his remarks proved too much for the chief.
Jihad said he had been the victim of police brutality in 1997, and that officials had failed to investigate the incident seriously. If he found himself in the same situation again, Jihad said he would “march into the 2nd District with a gun and open fire on everyone I see. I’ll die like a man.” When a few crowd members murmured their approval, a disgusted Compass grabbed a microphone and said, “This guy is talking about killing police officers and you are applauding him.” The session was sponsored by the mayor’s human relations committee. Earlier in the meeting, Compass asserted that his department had made great strides in rooting out the criminal element within it. The Justice Department has lifted its oversight of the department. When a complaint is lodged against an officer, it draws a vigorous internal investigation, Compass said.