NEW ORLEANS - The organizer of Sunday’s second line parade said Monday that a great day and a great tradition were both tarnished when 19 people were shot, including two 10-year-olds, at it.
The situation had the city's cultural community saddened and frustrated.
“The shooting starts, everybody's running. Screaming, hollering,” described Edward Buckner, president of the Original Big Seven Social Aid and Pleasure Club.
He was the organizer of Sunday's second line, and has participated in the annual Mother’s Day tradition for more than a decade. Buckner said nothing like Sunday’s shooting has ever happened at the event.
“I'm still messed up. I'm just really not right, right now. I'm just...” he said choking back tears.
He was clearly traumatized after 19 people got shot before his parade even got going.
Buckner described what the chaotic scene was like at the intersection of Frenchmen and Villere. After the parade had paused for a moment at that intersection, the gunshots rang out. “I get up because I'm not hurt and I walk around and I see all of my people on the ground hurt, shot,” he said.
“They really was hollerin' for help,” described Alisha Toliver. She had worked with Original Big Seven to help costume some of the people second lining Sunday.
Instead of seeing them dance, and hearing the music, she heard people screaming in pain.
“This child was just so calm. She was just screaming, ‘I don't want to die. I don't want to die.’,” Toliver said.
A 10-year-old girl and boy were shot in the crossfire.
“I was checking on everybody else and I always tell myself what would I do if I was in that predicament and I helped people,” Toliver recalled through tears.
Monday morning at City Hall, members of the city's social aid and pleasure clubs met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu about the threat the shooting could pose to what they consider such an important part of New Orleans' culture.
“The cultural community does not condone violence. We don't promote it. And we definitely don't encourage it,” said Tamara Jackson, Executive Director of the anti-crime group Silence is Violence.
She and other advocates of what they call the cultural community argue the second line isn't the problem. They say the shooting could've happened at any big event and it has happened at Halloween and Mardi Gras.
Jackson said her struggle is that it can, and likely will, happen again until a long-term solution is found.
“It's almost a form of genocide. The black on black crime that exists. The young black people who have have no regard for themselves and they obviously have no regard for anyone else,” Jackson said.
“These little boys can't raise each other. They're little boys,” Buckner said.