In an unsettling report published this week on Vice, the gentrification of the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans is causing social unrest to the point that gangs of kids as young as 13 are beating up members of the community who appear “other.”
And lo and behold, many of the targets have been gays and artists who stick out like sore thumbs.
One night when local gay actor and director Michael Martin, 56 was walking home after helping a friend move, a group of kids no older than 8th grade suddenly appeared and threw him to the ground. Helpless and outnumbered, Martin endured blow after blow to the head until he was left unconscious on the street.
“That neighborhood is under a ferocious amount of gentrification pressure,” Martin told Vice. “I mean gay is a bonus… if you don’t like gentrification, you probably don’t like old white faggots either.”
And this wasn’t the first time Martin encountered violence firsthand in the neighborhood.
“(My partner Eric) and I were held up at gunpoint by a young man on a bicycle. That was on our way to a Harry Potter movie. I had my arm broken with an iron pipe in a French Quarter assault, back in 2002. We also had someone break into our house looking for drug money,” Martin said. “Mother fucker came in through the bathroom window.”
The area is one of the most violent parts of the country, and issues with drugs, poverty and racism are daily realities.
But the perpetrators of these attacks are getting younger, and that has many in the community truly frightened.
Christopher Brumfield, another recent victim who was ambushed while en route to a charity fundraiser to help troubled youth (irony alert), perhaps puts it best:
“The real problem is that we’re failing the kids all over New Orleans. We’re failing them socially, educationally, in every way. 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.”
No arrests have been made in any attack.
Read the full story on Vice