Helen Hill

From: Anonymous Digest (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jan 04 2007 - 16:09:58 PST


New Orleans sees homicide epidemic

05:32 PM CST on Thursday, January 4, 2007

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS An independent filmmaker was the latest victim of New
Orleans' homicide epidemic the fifth of five people to die violently
in a 14-hour span; her husband, a physician who treats the city's poor,
was injured in the Thursday morning shooting.

Police did not release the names. But weeping friends and neighbors who
gathered in front of the little white house where the killing occurred
identified them as filmmaker Helen Hill and Dr. Paul Gailiunas. They had
moved to the area of the city known as the Faubourg Marigny with their
son about a year after Hurricane Katrina wiped out their home in the
Mid-City neighborhood.

Police said both were shot at their front door about 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
No other details were available. A friend said family members from
Columbia, S.C., were on their way to New Orleans Thursday after learning
of the shooting.

"They were wonderful people. Two bright spots in New Orleans. They gave
us hope that people could live together. And they'd do anything for
anybody," said Sheri Branch, who was taking care of the couple's
2-year-old son while Gailiunas was hospitalized.

Hill was among five people shot to death in unrelated incidents spanning
14 hours three Wednesday night and two Thursday morning. Those, along
with a New Year's Day killing brought the 2007 total to six.

Police also were investigating the suspicious death of a woman but the
case had not been ruled a homicide as of Thursday.

Hill made short films; her experimental animation shorts had been shown
at a number of festivals in the United States and Canada.

She won a $35,000 fellowship in 2004 from the Rockefeller Foundation's
Program for Media Artists for her film "The Florestine Collection." That
film was described by the program as "reflecting on handcrafted work and
race in New Orleans, through the personal story of a woman who made
hand-sewn dresses." She also taught filmmaking and animation to grade
school through college students, the foundation's news release said.

A Harvard graduate, she earned her master of fine arts in experimental
animation from the California Institute of the Arts in 1995.

Gailiunas, who was in stable condition Thursday, opened a clinic for
poor people in the Treme neighborhood in 2004. It was flooded by Katrina
a year later.

The state Board of Medical Examiners lists him as currently working for
Excelth Inc., a community-based group providing health care to poor
people.

No witnesses to any of the killings has come forward, police said
Thursday, begging for help to solve the most recent murders.

Assistant Superintendent Steven Nicholas described the recent killings
as brazen acts, often committed in broad daylight and, in one case,
within a block of police officers.

As police have in the past, Nicholas said police work is hamstrung
without witnesses.

At a news conference on Monday, Police Superintendent Warren Riley said
homicides in the city spiked in April, May and July, but had become less
frequent something he credited to police initiatives.

Police spokeswoman Bambi Hall said after 19 killings in October and
another 19 in November, December's total was 15. There were 161
homicides in the city in 2006. New Orleans' murder rate was 7 to 10
times the national average for cities of its size in 2005, the latest
period for which complete data is available.

Riley was not at Thursday's news conference; he was at a seminar in
North Carolina on crime prevention and community involvement in police
work.

National Guard troops and state police were brought in to help patrol
some neighborhoods after five teenagers were killed in one night in June
2006. The Guard focused on areas most devastated by Hurricane Katrina so
police could focus on higher-crime areas. Their patrols are expected to
continue this year.

Nicholas said he didn't expect the recent indictments of seven police
officers, related to the shooting deaths of two people and wounding of
four others after Katrina, to create friction between police and
District Attorney Eddie Jordan.

He said Riley and Jordan have spoken and are working to target violent
criminals and getting them off the street. "Those partnerships are well
established," Nicholas said.

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For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.