Why Online matters, aka Kalashnikov toting coroners in the City of Angels

A word to the wise—if you’re a man between the ages of 20-29 living south of LAX or east of the Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles,  you should probably just stay inside this weekend. Especially if you happen to be black or Latino. Especially if you know someone with a gun. At least, that’s the word from the LAT’s Homicide Report, the mind-fucking blog about murder in that strange, strange city.

If you don’t already drool down your shirt over the homicide blog, here’s a reason to start.

picture-1This, my friends, is where Angelinos—most of them young, poor and brown—go to die, and where great online journalism (possibly the best and most underappreciated use of the medium) is born. This is the Los Angeles Homicide map.

Of course, the Times is not the first to pioneer a death app for Google Maps. The San Francisco Chronicle did some really stellar reporting a few years back when they mapped where dead bodies were picked up in Oakland (a municpiality with sort of a body dumping problem), and Gothamist feeds DCPI reports into a Google algorithm  for a pretty snazzy looking addition to their website, but nobody really does death like Ruben Vives (extra points for most ironic name, Rube).

I won’t bore you with why I think this is journalism at its best (something about how murder victims are poor and brown and live far far away from the rich white people the dying print industry is fellating in their attempt to comforting the comfortable and ignoring the afflicted). I will, however, give you another, more sensational reason to read the fucking Homicide Report.

Are you ready?

Coroners with guns. Yes, you heard correctly, the people we pay to pick up dead bodies, packing heat. The Times reports that investigators from the LA county coroner’s office are seeking the right to carry weapons into the ghettos and gangwar where they do 99% of their thing, because, no fucking duh, it’s dangerous there!

The investigators are among the only LA city officials NOT authorized to carry firearms on duty (I think even sanitation workers get issued a Glock 9mm nowadays), even though they routinely find themselves the first on the scene of a crime, and/or searching for next of kin in Aryan Brotherhood meth-labs, apparently. Weird.

I don’t pretend to know whether the LA County Coroner really does need firepower to pluck daisy pushers, but i figure if the Kings County Coroner (one of the nation’s busiest with about 15 pickups a shift and an average of 300 bodies at any given time) can do it sans-artillery, anyone can. I mean, these are the people who pick up in East New York. Have you ever even been to East New York?

My point exactly.

UPDATE: Weird LAT reorganization business is confusing me. Is this the new Homicide blog? No time to check! Onward and upward.

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Filed under 3rd World Imagineering, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, The Liberal Media

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