Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, a Louisiana resident, has some tough commentary regarding the conviction of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin on 20 counts of bribery, money laundering, tax evasion and other fraud.
Nagin, who was mayor of the Crescent City during Hurricane Katrina and is infamous for not mobilizing the city’s fleet of school buses to evacuate residents who became trapped in the flooded metropolis, was convicted by a federal jury and could face over 20 years in jail and over $2 million in fines. The case against Nagin stemmed from the over $200,000 in direct bribes, free travel and other amenities Nagin and his family received in return for businessmen receiving over $5 million in city contracts.
Acquitted on only one count, Nagin’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, said, “We did the best we could do.” They do plan an appeal.
Project 21’s Enzi, a vocal advocate in the New Orleans area for strong community policing, warned against blaming the Nagin convictions on a racist judicial system. He said:
I’ve always failed to make that connection in the past when presented with the argument of a racist criminal justice system, and today isn’t any different.
The real question is, how do we govern ourselves so that we don’t find ourselves in these situations?
No defense attorney can take commonly-discussed excuses like slavery and selective prosecution, for example, and offer these to a judge.
Speaking to those who think that some people deserve a pass from punishment because of their race, Enzi has tough words for all viewpoints – positive and negative. He added:
I know that sounds terribly corny to the blameless black crowd, but these scenarios always serve as – for some – painful teaching moments.
We can’t keep blaming white folks for crime we freely choose to commit. The higher up the food chain we go, the more these trials will be publicized.
Some will say the Nagin case is proof black mayors are inherently corrupt. It’s hard for me to buy that one since I live in Louisiana, where a whole lot of white politicians and paymasters are perp-walked to prison.
In 2014, some American blacks must accept that our past doesn’t exempt us from being held accountable for our actions in the present.
If anything – conceding to the possibility of institutional bias – we have even more incentive to be law abiding because we don’t always get the breaks others do.
Exempting black criminals because of real or imagined racism only cheapens our lives and promises more scenes like today.
An old school warning always echoes in my mind during these times: “You can’t beat the devil doing wrong.”