When the new season of The First 48 began, one of the first episodes on the A&E show featured the case of murdered social worker Ashley Qualls with the investigating detectives from the New Orleans Police Department. Tulane School of Social Work graduate, Ashley Qualls, was working at a substance abuse treatment center when she was gunned down while walking home from work.
Although Ashley was from South Carolina, she moved her family to New Orleans believing they would have more opportunity in a larger city. Each day, she rode public transportation to work, but at night she was forced to walk the 3.5 miles home because public transportation had stopped running. Detectives Nick Williams and Greg Johnson who was featured in the First 48 spoke about how Ashley’s case has impacted them.
According to The Times-Picayune,
“This case touched us in a certain way, because we’re trying to get our city to a certain level, like New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and have people stop leaving our city,” Williams said. “Here goes a lady trying to make a difference in New Orleans, who’s not even from here. She’s from South Carolina. Not only does she put herself through Tulane to get her master’s in social work, but she goes on to work at the Odyssey House, to do something positive with her career. The tragic part is, this lady doesn’t have a vehicle.” Read Full Article
Recently, I read about Ashley’s story on another website which stated that “her decision to walk home is what led to her death”. Are you saying that she is responsible for her death because she could not afford a vehicle? This comment appears to be reflective of a larger attitude towards African-Americans who are victims of gun violence.
Often African-Americans are portrayed in the media as people who enjoy receiving unemployment, food stamps, and subsidized housing. This is how the conversation is redirected from better wages, cuts to public services, and sensible gun control.
When hard working people are making the decision to walk home at midnight in order to retain a job, they are literally risking their life on daily basis in order to support their family. When neighborhood schools are closed, this is the same risk many children in minority communities are required to take in order to get back and forth to school each day especially if they are involved in after school activities.
Social workers working in the public sector and nonprofits who can barely support themselves just ain’t right. Thank you Detective Williams and Johnson for not letting Ashley Qualls be forgotten.
Update The unnamed website mentioned above removed the language “her decision to walk led to her death” from their article upon request.
“Anyone with information about the murder of Ashley Qualls is asked to call Crimestoppers at 504.822.1111 or toll-free at 877.903.7867. Tips can also be texted to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637); text TELLCS then the crime information. Callers or texters do not have to give their names or testify and can earn a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an indictment. “ ~ NOLA.COM
Photo Credits: Courtesy of the Times-Picayune and Nelson’s Funeral Home
Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.