Thursday, February 08, 2007
New Orleans parents fear losing kids to crime
The St. Augustine High School Purple Knight marching band is good. Real good. We watched them practice after school this week while in New Orleans.

The families of these kids are very proud. And many of them are also relieved; relieved that their kids spend so much time practicing music after school, because it keeps them off the streets.

Life in New Orleans has been tough enough since Hurricane Katrina decimated the city's infrastructure. But as the months wear on, many parents say they their biggest problem may not be the rebuilding, but the rising crime rate that potentially imperils their children.

They say the streets of the Big Easy seem more dangerous these days. Police have even begun random checkpoints where they stop all cars in an effort to clamp down on crime. What's also troubling though is that teens between the ages of 17-19 are a big part of that crime increase, according to Orleans Parish Court officials.

So parents have two concerns: 1) keeping their kids away from troublemakers and 2) keeping their kids out of trouble.

We spent some time talking to a 15-year-old girl who did not want us to use her name. She says her family will no longer let her leave home after the sun goes down. She says she often hears gunshots in her neighborhood, particularly on the weekends, and that she rarely heard them before Katrina.

We also talked with an 18-year-old named John. He says the streets are much more violent now.

"You don't want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," he says. But he claims he is not scared.

"Whatever happens is going to happen," he tells me. Not exactly words of inspiration for the worried parents of New Orleans.
Posted By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent: 5:52 PM ET
I live in apt complex that welcomed over 10 Katrina refugee families after
evacuation to Dallas area. Out of these 10 households, only 1 older lady who was raising 4 grandchildren went to work. Within 3mo she was paying her own rent & was couple of months away from putting a down pmt on a car. The other families? Well, 2 apts where busted by narcotic officers appx 4mo after move in. This quiet apt complex became a regular stop for police. Tires slashed, apt broke into, drugs being sold in broad daylight, etc. Kids not going to school or being suspended from school for trying to carry knifes onto the campus. I only witnessed 10% of the NOLA evacuee's who tried to help themselves. 1 lady who realized that out of her lost life, she was given a chance to raise her grandchildren in safer area, w/good schools, a job working @ Dennys that she loved & who appreciated folks who reached out to help @ her lowest point. The rest? I would personally drive them all back to NO & drop them off. After 18mo they, w/all the assistance given, have done NOTHING to help themselves. The lady I speak so highly of put it best: They're Welfare Cripple's, the state of LA has to tell them when to wipe their bottoms. They don't know any other existence.

Only through a better education system, can we help this city continue to grow, something that was apparently lacking, long before Katrina hit.
Posted By Anonymous Danny, Garland Texas : 7:05 PM ET
man, I hope these new orleans folks decide to get smart and start electing republicans to office. the liberals who've been running this city for decades probably want to start a government program called "band nerds" not "gang nerds"... after reading this story.
Posted By Anonymous Animal Chin, Youngstown, Ohio : 7:41 PM ET
Dear Gary,

It is a disgrace that many of the citizens of New Orleans have been forced to live as if they are in a war zone. As suggested in your post, I believe the escalating crime rate in New Orleans is linked to the failure of the government, on all levels, to adequately address the problems left by Katrina.

It is time for the government, local, state, and federal to stop their bickering and come up with a "new strategy" to address the problems of this once glorious city. New Orleans belongs to all of us.

Take care.
Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 7:58 PM ET
That is so sad to hear the youth of New Orleans feeling so hopeless. I hope something can be done for them, if not, what kind of a future does their town have?
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 8:08 PM ET
How can you expect kids to stay out of trouble when you have parents giving their kids guns and telling them to finish the dispute. No matter how many time you report from New Orleans, nothing will ever change until the people there are fed up with everything and take control to get things done. There is no leadership there at all!!!
Posted By Anonymous Barb Kozlowski, Phoenix, AZ : 8:14 PM ET
Its a shame that the crime is escalating to the point that it has. I think since Katrina hit its been more evedent of the poverty and lack of education in that area. With exception to the elderly victims of Katrina the education was evident from the beginning when perfectly healthy people didnt get out of the way of a Category 5 hurricane. I think that it is nothing more than natural selection because the weak died and the strong got out. Now that the aftermath has played out these people are just going back to what they know which is taking from the govt. (wellfare) and from their own citizens. Now all of the displaced people are all over the south, they have now taken their crime spees on the road. From what I have been reading the crime rates in those towns and cities are now on the rise. What does that tell you? You can put those people in different places and they will do the same thing that they were doing in N.O. I do hope they rebuild N.O. so that the people that live there will ultimatly stay there.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan B, Columbus NE : 8:51 PM ET
New Orleans was broken before the hurricane. I think in a lot of ways, it is for the best if it stays broken up, spread the people out, and let the good ones enjoy new jobs and less crime, and the bad ones get handled by a non-corrupt system anywhere else but New Oreans.

The city was broken, and it's broken a lot of it's people - welfare cripples - a good description.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Bothell, WA : 8:54 PM ET
Hi Gary,
If CNN won't have a town hall meeting regarding the Gulf Coast, perhaps they'd have a sit down chat instead. Susan Roesgen and the other journalists that live there could fill in the bottomless blanks, like Michael Ware did so well. I think I'm like most people, we still want to help very much, but feel like nothing brings the light into the end of the tunnel..Surely, we can be of some assistance and be told today, right now, what specific, concrete help we can provide for the residents. My thoughts are STILL with ALL the Gulf Coast. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 9:18 PM ET
We` have 8 Billion a month for the debacle in Iraq but no resources to deal with our own issues. New Orleans is one of many of our major cities in disrepair with token assistance and a lot of political rhetoric in the place of solid effective resourses. Katrina gave us a birds eye view of what we can expect from the Bush administration when calamity occurs. A lot of talk and sad faces but little action.
Posted By Anonymous Marc, Hudson, FL : 10:06 PM ET
Hey Gary,

Education,on all levels And accountability,by the elected,law enforcement and parents.
I don't think I would want to raise my son in such an environment. I hate violence. I was attacked by a sicko at 11 years old, I've seen some violence in my partying years in Montreal but on a day to day basis,I couldn't do it.
I can't relate, honestly,because I live in the suburb where everything is nice & tidy. It's easy for us to judge or put in our 2 cents,but I'm sure most of the parents want a better future for their children. They are not all putting guns in the hands of their kids. The cicle has to be broken once and for all. Concrete actions need to be taken. Whether it's better education,involving the kids in the community,give them a sense of belonging, a place where they could express their thoughts. Anything would be better than what's going on.
I've been to the U.S. very often but never to NOLA, so I'm commenting only on what I hear and see.
Hey,Anderson, I'm curious to see if you'll be able to talk to Nagin again.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 10:14 PM ET
32 minutes of Anna Nicole Smith and counting. Make it end! (no pun intended)
Posted By Anonymous AJ, West Hollywood, CA : 10:34 PM ET
Dear 360:

What the heck was with the first hour tonight?

Real news like this and you spent about 40 minutes on Anna Nicole Smith? (Can't say I know how much time exactly because I kept flipping from C-SPAN which had a hearing on global warming...ya know, an actual topic of importance). Kinda sad when C-SPAN is more interesting than your show...

Did you even spend that much time on Gerald Ford? And what about the exceptional lack of coverage when Molly Ivins-- someone who actually meant something to many of us-- died?

Any chance you will stay longer in NO to make up for time lost? I just hope that no climbers get sranded in the snow, no astronaut goes on a psychotic land-based misison, etc. before tomorrow night's show. And we wonder why the situation in NO gets ignored, there are so many murders, so much of the city still does not have electricity, and...wait. a second! Is that Tom Cruise?

I also hope you will do more coverage of the Libby trial. I saw a small photo online: Was Russert on crutches just like Libby was a few months ago? Perhaps there is a reason people involved in this trial are so accident prone: they keep on tripping over their own tongues. If that is the case, Bush, Cheney, and Rove might wind up in full-body casts.

New Orleans is a real story. The trial that is the closest thing we will likely get to having admin sources talk about the lies leading us into Iraq is a real story. Anna Nicole Smith is, at best, a 30-second update.

Stick to the real stories; you are much better at it. If I wanted detritus, there are plenty of other news shows from which I could choose. I kept watching C-SPAN and flipping to CNN because I was looking forward to what is usually excellent coverage of the ongoing misery in the Gulf Coast and in the hopes that you would soon move on to something important. Sadly, I was very, very disappointed.

Less sleaze, please!!!
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 11:48 PM ET
What can I do to help this city? Music is good , education is great for the youth. I love Anderson to keep NOLA in the news, the good ole USA can NOT forget this city.
Posted By Anonymous Sheila Columbus Ohio : 12:19 AM ET
After only two years of teaching in a low income area, I am only beginning to see the destructive effects of poverty on a community, on families, and on children. Katrina complicated the problem. There is no easy answer. I do know government can't solve it alone. Change needs to come from within; the people of New Orleans need to work together to make their city more safe. I hope parents continue to do things to keep their children safe.
Posted By Anonymous ED Ferguson, Nipomo, CA : 12:54 AM ET
I am a resident of New Orleans and have been here since Katrina.I stayed during the storm. I am so tired of people who are not from here especially the media bad mouthing my city, my mayor, my police dept. and most importantly my people. Yes we do have issues with crime but what major metropolitan city doesn't. Yes we have education issues. Before the storm the public school dept. headed by the STATE had gone BANKRUPT. So don't blame the children for their lack of knowledge blame BLANCO she's the one who has the power to change the educational system. Nagin has nothing to do with the public schools because they are run by the STATE OF LOUISIANA.
In closing I would like to ask all of you to stop gossiping about New Orleans and come down here and help. Its been 16mons. since the storm and the bulk of the police department are being run out of FEMA trailers. WE DON'T NEED ANYMORE BAD PRESS SO TAKE YOUR CAMERAS AND GO HOME.
Posted By Anonymous Candace, New Orleans,LA. : 1:28 AM ET
The plight of New Orleans sounds all to familar to my ears. I used to live in Brooklyn New York where gunfire was and still is the specialty of the day. I have seen people get shot. a wooden stand with all the fallen teenagers names is a testament of senseless violence and the hopelessness that so many live with. I just don't undestand a mother giving her son a gun to get revenge.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Walker Rocklin, California : 2:08 AM ET
I have to agree with Danny in the first post on this topic. I also feel that New Orleans had a lot of problems before Katrina; there was just no reason for us to worry about it then. I picture the city like a zoo. Before the storm, the people and their problems were confined to the city. Well, hurricane Katrina has unlocked the cages and let many of these "animals" out. Now that they're our neighbors, their problems are now ours. It's time to pay the piper for turning the other cheek on a city that was in shambles long before any hurricane hit.
Posted By Anonymous Davis, Malvern PA : 10:50 AM ET
I am a proud citizens of New Orleans, but not a very proud American right now. I know that we are going to have to pick ourselves up, but at the same time it is our government's (local, state and federal) responsibility to allocate and above spend the money that has already been allocated, but being withheld, wisely! If the citizens, after 18 months, can not get the monies that has been promised by the LRA "Louisiana's Wrong Road Home" Program they can't rebuild--we can't our people home--we can't get our children in proper schools--we can't get quaility teachers--we can't have programs for these children to participate in. The youth in some areas have nothing to belong to--to be a part of.
When I think that our governments could let this beautiful city with all of it's culture-sounds-people and diversity just fade away and die--the only thing that I can say and think is "Shame On You ______" insert whatever name is appropiate.
I wish that everyone could see the city that we love in a shiny light one day soon because New Orleans and most of it's people shine like Gems!! I love You NOLA
Posted By Anonymous Sandy Metairie, LA : 11:19 AM ET
Knowledge is power. We've got the cash to rebuild Super Dome, Conv.Center, re-do French Qtr, but we can't afford to educate our children? I know tourists are the largest industry in NO, but give me a break. Why can't a place be found for the students who want an education? I think what really happened when Katrina hit: the pretty wrapping paper came off NO & the world could really see what is inside the box. Sadly, the education system in NO was already behind the 8 ball, before the storm hit. How can a city boast the likes of Tulane, yet not give the best education to its children? These kids have no structure in their lives & until they do, nothing will change for the better. We'll still be debating the NO crime rate in 20yr because we're wasting the potential of another generation.
Posted By Anonymous Lin, Dallas Tx : 11:21 AM ET
I think Jo Ann Matese in Ohio may be way off here, and think that Danny in TX describes what may be closer to the truth. The welfare depedency plague was rampant LONG before the storm hit. There is a pervasive culture of being entirely dependent on the socialist system of public assistance, and not even knowing or wondering what type of life may exist outside of that constrictive system.

Sure, broken school systems must be fixed, but the core problem with the failure of education in this culture lies not with the school hardware, but with the internal family life (or lack thereof) in the home.

Why do we need any government to babysit our citizens? How is some government program going to affect whether or not a child goes to school, pays attention, studies, and learns? It's not...and it's not the function of the government to assist a grown man in making the decision to wear a condom if he knows he is too weak or stupid to parent his offspring. It is not the function of the government to suggest to a mother that telling her child to use a weapon in retaliation on another child is wrong (unless you count the judge in the case sentencing the woman).

The disgrace here is the behavior of the criminals who are making New Orleans unlivable in places. Period.
Posted By Anonymous Jazz, Brooklyn NY : 11:23 AM ET
So why is New Orleans the city that America loves to hate? You visit our city, walk up and down Bourbon Street, drink daiquiris, and soil our sidewalks. To most Americans New Orleans is just another spectacle, right up there with the celebrity suicide of Anne Nichole Smith. For this New Orleans resident, watching Anderson 360 last night was a painful and disappointing experience. The show followed law enforcement teams as they rounded up a few crack-rocks, a pistol, and some weed. A police spokesman stated that the many unaccompanied minors in the city are being targeted and taken off the street, but we heard little or nothing about what can be done to relieve the pressure on the young people growing up in poverty in this city. There should be a good free education available for the kids who want to learn, and there should be shelters or youth hostels for these kids to stay in when they have trouble at home. The young men and women in our poor neighborhoods have to be engaged in the process of rebuilding, not rounded up and thrown in jail for non-violent drug offenses. You say we are breeding a culture of violence in New Orleans, and maybe we are, but it is because so many of us are forced to live outside the law and so many of us have no social structure to guide us through life. As I sit outside a small New Orleans cafe typing, enjoying a beautiful day in the most beautiful city in the US, and all I can hope is that New Orleans can be as good to every resident here as it has been to me, and I�m willing to help make that happen. Are you?
Posted By Anonymous Josh, New Orleans, LA : 11:39 AM ET
Mr. Cooper aired a statistic last night that perhaps could use some explaining. New Orleans' conviction rate is 18%, compared to a national average of 80%. The root cause of New Orleans' conviction problem is not the judiciary or law enforcement. Its that no one is willing to testify. Strangely, no one ever sees the crime happen. Who knows why one would remain silent rather than testify. Perhaps its fear, perhaps they have their own sense of justice. But how is a policeman supposed to investigate a crime when the victim won't even say who shot him? How is the D.A. supposed to convince a jury to send a man to jail for his life without a witness? In the end, they'll be right back on the streets.

The worst part of it all, I do not know if you can even fix a problem like that?
Posted By Anonymous Lucas Colligan New Orleans, Louisiana : 12:41 PM ET
I'll bet the Purple Knights are a real swingin' band! The key is to keep those kids between he ages of 17~19 BUSY! They need structured activities daily, even more so in this troubled time for New Orleans. I for one will not stop visiting New Orleans because of the rise in crime, but I will surely be more cautious when I do. Like Anderson, and all at 360, we should support New Orleans until she is no longer singing the Katrina blues.~
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 12:49 PM ET
When it comes down to it, Katrina or no Katrina... the parents need to be parents to their children. That is the first step in stemming the tide of violence.
Posted By Anonymous John, Mount Pleasant, Michigan : 2:44 PM ET
Thank Anderson Cooper for coming down to Orleans again. You forgot us in St. Bernard Parish again. As a resident of St. Bernard Parish I am still trying to get into a FEMA trailer and start to rebuild my life. We are just as angry as our neighbors in Orleans however we don't kill each other to express it. We still have crypts on the freeway and a lot of work to do but we aren't waiting on an inefficient government to do it for us. We are doing it for ourselves. Why do you continue to focus on an area of the city that doesn't want to help themselves? Come over the bridge and give a city working hard to improve itself and its citizens a little help.
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca, Chalmette LA : 3:24 PM ET
I am originally from New Orleans, and my family still resides there. I am concerned for them. But I trust the police officers are doing everything they possibly can for the people of New Orleans. They just need more officers and maybe some help from the National Gaurd.
Posted By Anonymous Ashley, Kansas City, MO : 5:15 PM ET
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