Dinerral Shavers is dead.

Hot 8 Brass Band drummer Dinerral Shavers, 25, was gunned down Thursday (December 28) while driving in Mid-City with his wife and two children.


He is the second member of the Hot 8 Brass Band to die a violent death in recent times. Bandmate Joseph “Shotgun Joe” Williams was gunned down by New Orleans police in Treme after he was stopped in a stolen truck en route to a funeral second line. That shooting angered community residents and Shavers was arrested after a confrontation with police.

The Hot 8 Brass Band has gained national attention recently with their presence in Spike Lee’s epic documentary, “When the Levees Broke.”  Shavers himself was interviewed by Lee walking down a street in the 9th Ward, surveying what was left.  He was the one who said that his mother’s house was somewhere “under a pile of rubble,” and that people were still melting away in ruined houses that were locked on the inside.

The murder rate in New Orleans went up to 161 victims for 2006.

And who might have killed Dinerral Shavers?
A boy who might have found some hope in Dinerral’s high school band rather than in gangs.

David Bonds, 17, is accused of fatally shooting Dinerral Shavers, 25, a snare drummer for the Hot 8 Brass Band and a band teacher at L.E. Rabouin High School.

What a fucking waste.

Shavers recently founded L.E. Rabouin’s first-ever marching band.

“I’ve got 80 kids marching — we’re making history at Rabouin,” he said proudly in an interview earlier this week. The band was already booked for several Mardi Gras parades.

Imagine how these children must have felt to be part of something, to be praised and encouraged, and to be making music.

After being shot, Shavers drove on for four blocks up Dumaine until he slowed down and stopped the car.  He (or his family members) must have lain down in the middle of the street near the Magnolia Meat Market surrounded by onlookers until an ambulance arrived.

Shavers is survived by his wife and two children.  Unfortunately, his 15-year-old stepson may have been the catalyst for Shavers’s death.

Police said what apparently was a feud between Bonds and Shavers’ 15-year-old stepson sparked the shooting, and that Shavers was an unintended victim.

At the center of the feud may have been resentment for “Uptowners,” such as Shavers’ stepson, moving into territory of the “Govs,” short for Gov. Nicholls Street, a name adapted by teens from that neighborhood.

Karen Beninato of the NOLA.com blog “Exile on Main Street” had this to say about Shavers’s murder and the murders of other New Orleans residents trying to make it right in the Crescent City:

Seven New Orleans policemen were just indicted for shooting civilians on a bridge post 8/29. Drummer Scott Sherman died under mysterious circumstances in that area. His brother Chris was first told by the coroner’s office that Scott was shot in the head, then later told something else. Regardless of the circumstances, he’s gone. Their last gig was Dr. Specs Optical Illusions with my husband at Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau party, summer 2005.

I kept passing signs this week on the way to the French Quarter. Rev. John C. Raphael Jr. and his son are on a hunger strike and they stand with their supporters between the lines of traffic holding signs that simply say, “Enough.”

The story of Dinerral’s slaying was covered locally, and combined with news of the other murder last night. A man whose 9-month pregnant girlfriend was left grieving at the scene.

Let’s hope for the day when New Orleans murders no longer happen with the frequency that requires more than one killing per story.

You can only blame gangs only so far when cops can take up the slack.  Beninato told of the senseless NOPD murder that occurred on the Danziger Bridge not long after the Katrina disaster. Today, the cops surrendered to authorities amid shouts of ‘heroes’ and signs of support as if they’re political prisoners.  Fears of mindless black marauders during the levee floods to justify indefensible actions continue.  

Dinerral Shavers, on the other hand, was outraged after witnessing his founding bandmate Joe Williams’ police murder.  (Williams, by the way, was the great-grandson of Deacon Frank Lastie, one of the first church musicians to bring the drum into New Orleans black worship services.) Even in the extended version (3rd DVD) of When the Levees Broke, Hot 8 trombonist Keith Anderson related his own experience of being jailed before Katrina for riding–unbeknownst to him–in a ‘hot’ car with a companion, only to endure even more human rights outrages perpetrated by the Orleans Parish police and prison officers.

Unfortunately, I found another piece of disturbing news on Buzzflash this morning to round out my day.

The newly elected mayor of (Westlake, LA)  was found shot to death over the weekend, less than three days before he was set to become the community’s first black leader.

Gerald “Wash” Washington, 57, was found Saturday night in the parking lot of a former high school. He had been shot in the chest, police said.

Authorities said Washington was lying by his truck with a pistol nearby. Investigators were treating the death as a homicide.

Westlake is a suburb of Lake Charles, La.

Washington had served more than 24 years as a councilman and would have been sworn into office today.  Funeral arrangements, of course, are pending.  I don’t like to think that this is more than a coincidence.

When people, especially black men, stand up, it seems as if the morass just pulls them–and us–down.

Even during the levee break and its aftermath, the story that wasn’t being told was that there were black men trying to protect their families, get food and clothing to them, even if they had to steal it, and create or go for shelter.  

But we’ve got keep moving.  And we can’t let them win.

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