“Kill are be killed.”
That’s what a spray-painted graffiti message reads on a metal wall a stone’s throw from the 1500 block of Government Street near downtown Baton Rouge. It’s a double testament — both to the scandalously dangerous character of that particular speck of earth along one of the city’s main thoroughfares and to the scandalously dangerous deficiency of the public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The graffiti, which has been on that metal wall for close to 15 years without anyone bothering to paint over it, turned somewhat prophetic in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16. Because a stone’s throw away was the scene of one of the most stomach-turning, senseless murders in the history of a city hosting far, far too many of them.
Baton Rouge is a shooting gallery with one of the most hardened criminal classes of any in America — and a political class which has made its peace with that fact and only sluggishly bothers to fight off the contagion. Pandering to criminals gets more votes than stopping them in much of the city. You already know what results that brings.
Early in the morning of Friday, Sept. 16, following the 2 a.m. closing time of the bars in the Mid-City neighborhood along Government Street, 21-year-old Allison Rice, a senior at Louisiana State University majoring in marketing, was in her SUV making her way to the 1500 block. An eyewitness who attempted, and failed for two days, to contact the Baton Rouge Police Department describes what happened next:
“I was bringing my friend home who lives on Government St. When we got on Government, we came up to the train tracks and the train was at a complete stop. Not even 10 minutes later, these two guys walked past my car. One of them was wearing darker clothes with long sleeves. One of them was wearing a red hoodie with the hoodie over his head. They were both black males, I would say mid 20’s and both of them were around 5’10 or 5’11,” said the witness.
“At this time, her vehicle pulled up (Allison Rice’s silver SUV). I was going away from downtown on Government and she was coming towards downtown. These two guys walked past my vehicle. The train was still at a complete stop. They were walking through the cars of the train to get across the tracks. Not even 10 minutes went by and I heard the gunshots go off,” he said.
“I heard multiple gunshots, at least five to six over and after that, I could still see her car parked. As soon as the gunshots went off, she tried to turn around and then she just stopped. I could not tell where the gunshots were coming from but I just knew they were very close to me. I ended up backing out and leaving. That’s when I suspected the person heard them too and was leaving as well. My first instinct was that I don’t need to be here, I need to leave.”
“I ended up getting back on the interstate. I went around the train and got off at Dalrymple and went to drop off my friend. I went back home and went to bed. The next morning, I saw that someone had been found dead by the tracks. That’s when I realized that’s exactly the car I saw and the time and the gunshots I heard.”
That account appeared at the website of former WAFB-TV investigative reporter Kiran Chawla, who now runs an independent blog supplying far more extensive coverage of Baton Rouge’s runaway crime wave than any of the local media.
And particularly not the Advocate, the local newspaper which has run zero articles on Rice’s murder since Friday as the case has begun to garner national attention. It ran three stories that day and has gone completely silent on the case since.
In one sense that isn’t surprising. After all, Baton Rouge (pop. 220,000) has been the scene of an all-time-high 720 murders since 2017, as of Sept. 12 of this year (which doesn’t count Allison Rice’s murder). Why would another one be more than a one-day news story?
The truth is, there are two Baton Rouges, not just one.
There is the Baton Rouge that exists at the 1500 block of Government Street and essentially everywhere north of there. That Baton Rouge is monolithically black, horrendously poor — while the median family income of white residents of Baton Rouge was $98,000 in 2019, for blacks it was a pathetic $31,000 that same year — government-dependent, and absolutely awash in crime and drugs. It’s one of Michelle Obama’s famous food deserts; the storefronts that used to house supermarkets, shops, retail centers, and other businesses are still there, but they’re largely empty and abandoned, every shred of copper wiring or anything else of value removed to the black market.
That Baton Rouge elects politicians who carp constantly at the need for “investment” in a community that has systematically destroyed any possible incentive business might have in throwing money into its maw. The stores closed because what customers there were weren’t enough to sustain them against the shrinkage rate, and because the violent crime in the parking lot made it unpalatable to operate. And without any change in the culture that killed commerce in those neighborhoods, that economic reality cannot and will not change.
It’s a dead Baton Rouge. “Kill are be killed” is the quintessentially idiotic phrase to describe it. It’s Jackson, Mississippi with a nice-tasting water supply…for now.
And there is the Baton Rouge that exists for most of the parts south of the 1500 block of Government Street. That Baton Rouge is bustling with commerce — shops, car dealerships, restaurants, industry, new construction. It isn’t monolithically white, but a large majority of it is. A large swath of it is unincorporated, and residents there are attempting to create the city of St. George in a situation not wholly dissimilar to what the proposed city of Buckhead is doing in Atlanta.
And catching the same reaction from the powers that be.
Because Dead Baton Rouge has more votes than Live Baton Rouge.
In July 2016, in what turned out to be the final gasp of actual law enforcement in the city, a morbidly obese drug dealer and habitual felon named Alton Sterling was camped out in front of a convenience store in the early-morning hours of a weekday, just a little ways north of the spot where Allison Rice was killed. Sterling, whose cover had it that he was selling bootleg CDs, pulled a gun on someone in the convenience store parking lot. The police were called. And in the struggle that ensued when two officers arrived at the scene, Sterling attempted to pull out his pistol and was shot dead for his trouble.
There were racial protests, which were only short of riots because local law enforcement stood strong against them, following the Sterling shooting. And a couple of weeks later a black separatist terrorist named Gavin Long ambushed police into a gun battle, shooting six and killing four.
That fall Sharon Weston Broome, a state senator from Dead Baton Rouge, won election over a pro-cop Republican in a close race. Everything has cratered from there.
Broome has especially destroyed the Baton Rouge Police Department through starving it of funds and leadership; she fired the police chief and installed a puppet, the almost comically incompetent Murphy Paul, to run the force.
And now more than half of the murders — in a rash of them Baton Rouge had never seen before — go unsolved.
By the way, the Baton Rouge Metro Council eventually agreed to pay a $5 million settlement to Alton Sterling’s family.
There will never be a dime paid to Allison Rice’s survivors.
Live Baton Rouge is absolutely livid over Allison Rice’s murder. By all accounts she was a beautiful, talented, and effervescent young woman who had worked as a server and bartender at The Shed, a recently opened barbecue restaurant her father owns part of where her two brothers are also employed. The restaurant put up a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of her killer.
But the local rumor mill has it that the powers that be are attempting to bury the murder along with the other unsolved cases, at least in the public’s attention. The police say they have no leads, and a department source actually suggested to WAFB-TV that people feeling unsafe driving on Government Street near the train crossing might simply take an alternate route.
And LSU, which is desperate to avoid bad publicity surrounding the murder of one of its students, suggested that Rice’s classmates might seek counseling for the emotional trauma surrounding her death.
They’re trying to bury this case, because everyone knows what happened to Allison Rice. She was shot (or at least shot at) 10 times at close range by a street criminal who approached her while she was a sitting duck at a train crossing. Maybe it was an attempted carjacking, maybe just a thoroughly senseless killing — here was a defenseless white girl shot to death for attempting to flee from an urban predator or two. (READ MORE from Scott McKay: The Great Upheaval Is Coming. It’s Almost Here.)
And if the outrage such a murder deserves were ever to boil over, well …
Let’s just say you couldn’t continue governing Baton Rouge the way it’s currently being governed.
A politically connected friend of mine relayed to me that one of his colleagues, a black Democrat lobbyist in Baton Rouge, told him, “Maybe now you white people will care about crime in Baton Rouge.”
But white people have always cared about crime in the city. It’s the No. 1 reason so many whites (and, to be sure, middle-class blacks) have fled to the suburbs. It’s the politically connected black Democrats who have fought hard to perpetuate and grow that enterprise, and they’ve succeeded. Crime is the biggest growth industry in town.
Something the Rice family knows sadly all too well.
Hopefully, that reward offering will lead to a local scumbag turning on his colleagues and ratting out the killer. It would be a supreme disgrace, an insult added to injury, if no justice were made for Allison’s murderer.
But that won’t change anything about the 1500 block of Government Street.
After the murder, the Rice family and Allison’s friends made an impromptu memorial to her, complete with flowers, stuffed animals, and other mementoes of her cruelly cut-short life. One of them was a copper cross with her photograph inserted in its middle that was hung on a telephone pole near where her SUV came to rest.
But the morning after the memorial was laid, the cross — and everything else but the flowers — was carted away by thieves.
Because that’s what Dead Baton Rouge does.