Thursday, February 08, 2007
Violent crime creeps into the French Quarter

A man displays a sign during a recent rally against crime in New Orleans.

Thirteen years ago, I was mugged in my New Orleans driveway.

I remember being told to turn around, with the gun at the back of my head, and thinking, "What a stupid way to die."

Crime was bad in New Orleans back then. In the mid-90s, the Big Easy edged out Gary, Indiana, for the title of "Murder Capital" of the United States. But a new mayor and a new police chief brought crime under control, and it stayed under control, until Hurricane Katrina.

After the hurricane, most folks thought the criminals had been blown away permanently. Where would they live? In FEMA trailers? What kind of market would they find for drugs or guns in a city preoccupied with gutting houses?

But the criminals have come back, and they are terrorizing people who never felt afraid before. Although the city's population is less than half of what it was before the storm, the number of murders per capita is so high that New Orleans is again the murder capital of the country.

I always tell out of town friends that the "jewel" of the city -- the French Quarter -- is completely safe. It's so romantic to stroll in the Quarter at night, sipping chicory coffee and eating beignets in Jackson Square.

Bill and Betty Norris are 17-year homeowners in the Quarter who just won't go out any more at night. They were almost killed in a mugging in January, and now they say that if the police can't lock up more criminals, then they'll continue to lock themselves in.

They say they moved to the Quarter for the freedom to walk everywhere they want to go -- to the store, to church, to see friends. Now, they drive, even if it's only two blocks.

As Bill puts it, "Our plan now is to reduce our exposure." A 15-year-old who held a gun on Betty was later captured, but the teenager who held a gun on Bill was never found.

Betty says unless the city gets better policing, she and Bill will remain "prisoners" in their home.
Posted By Susan Roesgen, CNN Correspondent: 12:56 PM ET
  62 Comments
Stop the HATE, drugs and gangs. The war is not in Iraq it is on the streets of America and it starts at our borders.

Laws should not be a buffet where we can pick and chose what we want.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 1:20 PM ET
What's even more sad about this story is that it was teens who committed the crime. I can only hope that this is an isolated case and there's not more teens involved in crime in NOLA. It does make you wonder what is happening to the youth there if they have to resort to crime in order to survive.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 1:23 PM ET
I am very curious on the theories surrounding why there is such a high rate of violent crime. Most likely, there is a Sociologist with an answer. I'm curious as to what that is. Me? I moved from one infested city to another, yet for some reason I feel safer in New Jersey than in Arizona. It could be the gun laws (no guns, vs. open carry), it could just be the lay of the town. I do not see, though, why people would stay if they feel so afraid they cannot even walk out their door.
Posted By Anonymous Sharla Jones, Stratford, NJ : 1:32 PM ET
Hi Susan, According to what I have read in the past crime in New Orleans was out of control long before Katrina. It sounds somewhat like Iraq now, nothing works.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn Michigan : 1:35 PM ET
My cousin works for the FBI in Denver and they were asked if anyone was interested in working as policemen for 3 months in New Orleans. He hasn't been a policeman for at least 10 years. It goes to show how desparate the situation is there.
Posted By Anonymous Barb Kozlowski, Phoenix AZ : 1:46 PM ET
Wow, Susan, that's an incredible story. Maybe all of the loss and uncertainty about when rebuilding will be completed plays a major role in people's behaviors. Is it rebellion? Fear? I can't imagine the state of minds over there...they need a Giuliani for themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Aruna, Minneapolis, MN : 1:48 PM ET
Gee, I bet it's the government's fault for not dumping tax dollars from a helicopter over the city. The city needs to declare martial law and bust some skulls.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Shreveport, LA : 1:56 PM ET
The last time I was there I sensed an undercurrent of apathy, resentment and entitlement that now seems to have grown to a full urban disease. There was a kind of passive-aggressiveness in people; in the service, in passengers on the bus, in the way people waited (or didn't) for each other to sit down or step aside on the streetcars, etc. People were unreceptive to courtesy and kindness and seemed unwilling to risk showing any.

This is a huge tragedy. It means the loss of the heart and soul of this wonderful old city to something pointless and arbitrary: a way of thinking. A thought, nothing more.

New Orleans' problem right now goes beyond income equality or jobs or hurricane recovery. The problem is an attitude, robotically copied and emulated by people who apparently don't realize that they are driving relief and assistance away from them... it's the chip on the shoulder and the futile rage that leads to actual violence.
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Miami, FL : 2:05 PM ET
I visited the French Quarter last Sunday..parked at the end of Elysian Fields behind an old power plant on the river side. I walked down to Cafe Du Monde around noon. The only thing I noticed was that the Quarter simply looks a lot "cheesier" than the last time I was down there, pre-Katrina. I didn't feel fearful, but there were many people out and about. Other than that, driving along I-10 through the eastern part of the city was simply depressing. If that city raises itself out of the ashes, like a phoenix, I'll be surprised. It may end up being the next Galveston, TX, with Baton Rouge becoming the next Houston. Or better yet, if they'd legalize liquor, maybe Picayune, MS, about an hour's drive north, would become the next metropolis.
Posted By Anonymous F. Wilson Hess, Picayune, MS : 2:14 PM ET
"Prisoner" not a term you want to associate with your own existence. That is a word that should be attached to those committing all of the crimes and violence in New Orleans. How sad to feel trapped in your own home when the ambience and mystique of New Orleans awaits outside your door.
I find it hard to comprehend that the people of that wonderful city cannot work together to rebuild and recapture the spirit that once existed there. Why can't they get past the hate and violence and put their energies into something positive. There are so many possibilites. Why can't the residents take this opportunity to make New Orleans a place that is better not a place that is bitter!
Posted By Anonymous Zann Martin, Tennessee : 2:14 PM ET
This is terrible. To virtually be a prisoner in your own home is a disgrace in 2007. We should send in the National guard, but they are in Iraq fighting in endless oil war. While our government is spending billions and send billions of cash on pallets to foreign countries, American citizens are suffering. Hurricane Katrina was over a year ago and we are still in this situation? I don't know what to say. This administration has me at a loss for words and breaks my heart to see how American's are treated.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills, CA : 2:18 PM ET
My husband is a good cop- dangerous enough in New Orleans. We lived there for 10 years- we loved the city. After the societal breakdown following Katrina, and the worst elements moving to the westbank- we moved. We're now in western Michigan- good education, low crime, heaven. We shovel snow seasonally, but can walk outside safely whenever we want. God bless you and good luck to those who choose to stay.
Posted By Anonymous BNB, Spring Lake, MI : 2:22 PM ET
Well, they have signed up Lee Brown to "advise" on how to fight crime there. I suspect he will have to officially visit Holland or maybe Frankfurt before he makes any recommendations though so it may be a while.

The first question that comes to mind after reading your article is...If personal security is so conspicuously compromised there, why are the decent people still there? Habitable property values are certainly up so leave and find a wholesome place to live maybe? Not meaning to sound insensitive but man, how can you keep doing that?

Another question could be...Where is ACORN and Jessie Jackson and all the high profile people and groups that where moaning and groaning about how badly the US government abused all those poor folk? Do they have anything to say about what is going on there now? Are they doing anything to help?

Still another question could be...Why is the National Guard still there? Their presence seems to be mostly PR for tourists because they certainly aren't having any effect on felony crime.

It's kind of like the guy that goes to the doctor and when the doctor asks what's wrong...the patient says "It hurts when I do this." The doctor replies..."Don't do that and give me $50 for the office visit."
Posted By Anonymous Mike from Houston : 2:28 PM ET
So, what is the current mayor and police supervisor doing about this? Blame it on Bush again I guess, it worked the first time.
Posted By Anonymous Cal, New York, NY : 2:35 PM ET
You are talking about a city whose "leadership," when things got rough after Hurricane Katrina, decided that the best thing to do to "keep people safe" was to use the police to take away the guns that belonged to good, honest citizens. Your laughable mayor Nagin denied that he had done this, even after the police chief stood at a press conference announcing the plan to do exactly that. Your "leaders" left good people defenseless precisely at a time when the police were useless to the average citizen who needed their help, and 911 was "down" for the duration. It was necessary for the National Rifle Association to bring a LAWSUIT against the city to demand the return of people's lawfully owned firearms. At first Nagin denied ever having them confiscated; later the confiscation was admitted, and the order has been given to return the guns, but still many New Orleans residents are being given a runaround, and their property is not being returned.
Perhaps if the CITIZENS of your city--forget about the cops--use their own show of force against criminals, you will turn the tide there. We need a sea-change in the way this country views armed citizen response to crime. It needs to be more fully accepted that shooting your criminal attacker is wholly justified in self defense, and in the effort we all must make to restore order where criminal chaos rules.
Posted By Anonymous Jeffrey, West Palm Beach, Florida : 2:35 PM ET
I am a New Orleanian. For years we have struggled with crime. It is unfortunate that our lack of supportive services has turned the city into breeding grounds for violent criminals. A failed school system, failed social services, failed police department and the failed justice system has made this a very violent city.
After the hurricane, I moved away. I now see what a city can be. A school system that produces, a police force that is proactive and effective, and a justice system that is not a revolving door. I am not afraid to park my car and walk in the streets downtown. With the successfull city services and support comes more success. More outside industries are coming in and creating jobs.
I miss New Orleans, and alway consider myself a New Orleanian. But, I now know what I have been missing in a functunal city.
Posted By Anonymous John Wirstrom, San Antonio, TX : 2:37 PM ET
New Orleans is a neglected city, that had areas of poverty before Katrina. In the state of despair those neglected individuals are just tryin to get their piece of the pie, and thats why there is an explosion in crime
Posted By Anonymous SlickRick, Little Hiati, Fl : 2:40 PM ET
Check this out. Another murder in NO last night. Argument between teens. Both walk away, argument over. When teen #1 gets home and tells Mom, she gives him a gun and tells him to settle the dispute. Kid goes out, finds teen #2 and shoots him dead. Mom and kid now being sought. And to top it off, the DA in the city is prosecuting doctors, nurses and policemen. What about the bad guys?
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Baton Rouge, LA : 2:53 PM ET
Having lived in Louisiana for decades, fortunately northern, I feel qualified to comment. Been to NO many, many times for weekends, football games, jazz fest, madri gras, etc...The city was a cesspool long before Katrina. Too many uneducated thugs running the streets without concern or restraint.
Corruption at every level in the city and the southern part of the state. Attempting to bring that city back to it's previous condition is a waste of time and money. There's no future but the I-10 politicians of the south will continue to pump millions into it. Stay alive by staying away.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Bossier City, LA : 3:01 PM ET
THIS IS THE NORM FOR THAT AREA OF OUR COUNTRY
REALISE IT AND LIVE WITH IT
THERE IS NOTHING ANY ONE CAN DO ABOUT IT
THE BAD GUYS DON'T PURCHASE THEIR GUNS AT A SPOTING GOODS STORE
Posted By Anonymous DUCK SLC UTAH : 3:05 PM ET
This is discouraging news, and seems like another man-made disaster following Katrina. Ever since Katrina, the French Quarter has been a kind of symbol of recovery for NO, and certainly did have a reputation for being a safe area. Mayor Nagin had reported that NO has been losing something like 17 police officers a month. He also spoke about continuing mental health issues in the city, and alluded to continuing suicides. The needs seem to require that several systems work together -- legal, police, mental health, and community-based supports. Are teens becoming more involved in crime, if so, why? (drugs?, gangs?, anger? acting-out?)
Posted By Anonymous Vicky, Ottawa, ON : 3:05 PM ET
The perspectives of people who are not living here is interesting.

- Crime was high before Katrina
- Education was poor before Katrina
- Lack of empathy was high before
Katrina
- The National Guard is here after
Katrina and not only in Iraq.
- Self pity is higher than before
Katrina
- More lost now than before Katrina
due to scam artists deceiving people
on rebuilding.
- The LA Road Home program has only
issued 300 grants since August 06
out of SIX BILLLION DOLLARS.
- Sherrif cannot target where crime is
actually happening due to outrage of
racial profiling.

Everything is broken here and I mean everything. You cannot understand it until you live here.

I have never owned a handgun but I have one now and yes, I do know how to use it.
Posted By Anonymous Carol Ann, New Orleans, LA : 3:06 PM ET
NO is just a taste of what is to come. America is slowly declining into a third world country. Global Warming will bring more national disasters, which inturn will bring more chaos. We are a divided nation, rich..poor. Citizens have guns, but criminals do too. Frightening future!!
Posted By Anonymous Jackie, North Pole, AK : 3:08 PM ET
What's the big deal with the "Big Easy"? Besides the French Quarter, all we hear about is crime, a stalled rebuilding effort and ineffective government. Maybe that city should have just been buldozed and abandoned. With global warming looming on the horizon, I don't think its possible to save the town. Surrender it to the sea and move on.
Posted By Anonymous Jaime M. Gonzales, Poway CA : 3:10 PM ET
To Tome in Baton Rouge (and the rest of America)

"Check this out. Another murder in NO last night. Argument between teens. Both walk away, argument over. When teen #1 gets home and tells Mom, she gives him a gun and tells him to settle the dispute. Kid goes out, finds teen #2 and shoots him dead. Mom and kid now being sought. And to top it off, the DA in the city is prosecuting doctors, nurses and policemen. What about the bad guys?

Posted By Tom, Baton Rouge, LA : 2:53 PM ET"

It is the same as it ever was but it is just now in the spotlight.

Welcome to New Orleans!!
Posted By Anonymous Carol Ann, New Orleans, LA : 3:14 PM ET
A prisoner in your own home?? There's simply no need to live like that - what once was may never be again - I wouldn't waste my precious years alive waiting to get what you once had. There are numerous other beautiful places in the U.S. to live - sell your house, relocate and enjoy your life without having to watch your back!
Posted By Anonymous Sandy Smith, Elkhart, IN : 3:21 PM ET
That city was is and always has been a cesspool....it was finally cleaned out by Katrina. The city seems to enjoy its reputation as the dirtiest politically and most corrupt fiscally. Why spend another dime to rebuild that dump. The entire country and individuals (through higher insurance premiums) are paying to rebuild that toilet which as we all learned is under sea level. Just a matter of time until it happens again. The character of common citizen showed up on tv with looting and raping and robbing. The welfare culture blamed the government for not taking care of them. How about listening to a warning and getting the hell out.
Posted By Anonymous Scotty A, Charlotte, NC : 3:24 PM ET
Let's face it. As was said, there was great crime BEFORE hurricane Katrina. I remember when I came to New Orleans in 1995 for a wedding, I made a wrong turn, ended up in a low income area, people came out of their homes and began to beat my car. I thought that this was possibly a carjacking, but I stepped on the gas to get out of there as fast as I could! I did not want to become a murder statistic.

I don't believe that policing improved in New Orleans because my friends, who would go for Mardi Gras and visit friends, would come back talking about the strong criminal element that existed in New Orleans. I knew, especially after my car incident, what parts of New Orleans to go to and which parts to stay away from.

I am not trying to berate New Orleans, it was just a fact. I think that before Katrina racially/economically segmented communities shielded many citizens from the criminal element. People who lived away from poor areas had a safer and more comfortable life. People who lived close to poor areas suffered. Hurricane Katrina just exposed the reality of the problem for all to see and deal with regardless of race and economic status!

It is also not a shock to hear the criminals have returned to New Orleans. The fact that New Orleans is a broken down city is a criminal's paradise! You have to understand that there are people in this world who are angry, vengeful, and don't care themselves or anybody else! When the hurricane came through, they were swepted away like everyone else, but when you don't have any education, no real social skills, or any life concept how are you going to make it in some other foreign city. Instead of being locked up in jail or prison there, they come back to a place where the chances of them being locked up is almost zero. NEW ORLEANS!!
They can live free too. No rent to pay and no federal housing papers to sign. They can just go into an abandonded storm ravaged home and do whatever they want, whenever they want! They can push in drugs, sex, whatever they like under the veil of darkness, busy(ness), and despair. When they get angry, or when their anger explodes, they go out and kill. Then they go into the night never to be seen again. Well . . . let me not be so dramatic, atleast not that night!

More policing is part of the solution, but it is not the ultimate solution. What is going to be the ultimate solution is order in the city. New Orleans's administration is going to have to tear down all of those storm ravaged homes and begin to rebuild. There needs to be synergy between the national government, private enterprise, and the citizens of New Orleans to rebuild New Orleans. A campaign needs to be started that will bring in people, not just to party during Mardi Gras, but to rebuild and recreate New Orleans. People are going to have to dream and envision money making opportunites there. Diversity which adds to the luster of the city, needs to be championed there. Once those dreams are cemented, atleast on paper or in meetings, people are going to have to be determined to make it a reality.

Right now, criminals are taking advantage of a bad situation. It is unfortunate that American citizens are losing their lives to this criminal problem. It is even more unfortunate that New Orleans is still a big mess!
Posted By Anonymous Madeliene Bolden, Atlanta, Georgia : 3:25 PM ET
With the out of control corruption in New Orleans and the "good ol boy"system firmly entrenched in LA,why are we as Americans shocked at the violance?You cannot have a decent and lawful society if thier leaders (elected officials) are corrupt to the core.
Posted By Anonymous Amos,Longview Texas : 3:30 PM ET
I did not choose to live on the coast, I did not choose to live in a city destine for destruction and still do not choose to live in a city that is being rebuilt with the knowledge that some day, maybe sooner or maybe later, it again WILL feel mother natures wrath. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people that chose to live where they are and I feel even worse taht my money is being spent to rebuild that city. I DO feel sorry for the people in Florida as they did not knowingly live where the destruction of their lives was inevitable. For that, I accept my taxes being spent.
Posted By Anonymous John, Mt. Pleasant Michigan : 3:32 PM ET
Hey Susan,

For me, an outsider looking in,every time I hear about NO, I have to remind myself that it's part of the U.S. How can this be happening in the greatest city in the world,where equal rights and opportunities "should" be given to every citizen.
I understand that the situation was pre-existing before Katrina,but does it make it right?There seems to be a lot of "waiting" for NOLA. Wait for the money,wait for the law to do something,etc...
But even if the cops could arrest every criminal in NOLA, the root of the problem would still be intact. There seems to be a lot of work to be done with education,opportunities,just finding a new way of life that does not include violence.
It's sad to see the violence reaching the French Quarter because it is a big source of revenu for NOLA,but it will scare the visitors away. And then, NOLA will really be a ghost town. I have faith in the Americans,I hope you will find a way to bring peace and hope to NOLA.

Joanne R.Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 3:46 PM ET
I have lived in New Orleans for 35 years. My family and I have all been the victims of various crimes. This city degenerated into a cesspool long before Katrina. Crime is not new to the city -- it was a mean, dirty, horrid place to live before the storm hit. Nothing will be done as long as the same crooked politicians keep being reelected. If I could afford to leave, I would.
Posted By Anonymous Donna, New Orleans, LA : 3:51 PM ET
I live outside of Baton Rouge, so this perspective might find some criticism since I don't live in New Orleans. But...I have always known that New Orleans was extremely dangerous-that's nothing new. Baton Rouge has even made the list of most dangerous cities. But what I find the most shocking is that the crime continues to escalate in a city that has barely survived the worst natural disaster and worst government F*#k up in history-and they're killing people more now than before. For those of you who think NOLA should just give up-you can't be serious. Would you want your home to surrender to anything??? It's a legendary city that has gladly shared its heritage and history with the rest of the world. Maybe some of those 21,000 troops headed to Iraq could secure some stability in New Orleans. Or maybe we could elect some competent leaders, which by today's standards seems like an oxymoron. Maybe Mr. Guiliani could help
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 3:52 PM ET
I live in the French Quarter, walk to work everyday, walk to grab a cup of coffee, walk to go get a drink with friends on the streets off of Bourbon and I can tell you one thing - while the French Quarter is far from perfect, you are in a city and like any city in America - you must be aware of your surrondings. I'm sure that someone got mugged while walking with his wife in Miami over the Super Bowl weekend but it didn't warrant a headline. It really is a wonderful city, it's just a shame that its every misstep is in the national spotlight. . .
Posted By Anonymous Brandon - New Orleans, LA : 3:54 PM ET
NO will never be the same. Nobody really wants to bulk up the levies, nor do they want to rebuild just to have it washed away again. Let Mother Nature reclaim the city...She can fix it in time.
Posted By Anonymous Chuck, Cleveland, OH : 4:03 PM ET
What is the local law enforcement and mayor doing about it ? Before Katrina the crime situation was no better ,it just gone worse after Katrina.Ask for help from DC and get this mess cleaned up.

On the other hand getting help from DC - Mr Bush is focused on Iraq not setting right things at home.
Posted By Anonymous Priya Junnarkar , Fremont , CA : 4:06 PM ET
New Orleans has become just like any other 3rd world country. It was people's home. But now with no jobs, no business, but plenty of booze/drugs in true New Orleans style, things are out of control. We swept the most poor people under the rug for so long, they are now coming out with a vengance. I am from New Orleans, I applied to Tulane recently, and it was always my dream to live in Uptown. But now that just doesn't seem possible. We are hampering our city's growth.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Chicago, IL : 4:12 PM ET
I left Nola a few years before Katrina. I worked as a bail bondsman. Sadly what is happening now is only coming to light due to the shutting down of the projects. Crime has always been high. The problem starts with individuals that feel as if they are entitled to free $ from the government. I wish someone could count the number of section 8 vouchers, gov. checks, welfare, etc. that was issued in Jeff and Orleans Parish, pre Katrina.( ages 18 - 40 ) These are the individuals that were already in the system and were able to get the big paydays from FEMA. There are a lot of individuals that want to do what is right but it is hard when the local gov. takes a wait and see attitude. The fault starts with two individuals. Ray " Do Nothing " Nagin/ Mary " Super Lousy " Landrieu. Their crisis management is a joke. Impeach them both.
Posted By Anonymous T. Strong,Dallas, TX : 4:15 PM ET
I live in Biloxi - grew up in Biloxi. Louisanna (our neighbor) has tons of good, caring citizens. Even N.O. does at that - however, N.O. was broke real bad before Katrina, as many have already stated. It's a damn shame that the city and many of it's residents are blaming the government for their recent problems. Very few of them have any desire to rebuild - only to "leach" more money from the government and sit in squalor and anguish. I don't want to see any more of my tax money going there unless it's monitored by a responsible agency or entity - NOT one from N.O.

Marc
Posted By Anonymous Marc, Biloxi, Ms : 4:21 PM ET
It is very unfortunate that negative publicity focused on severe violence influences Americans' opinons on rebuilding New Orleans. No journalists have bothered to cover the city of New Orleans' strategic importance to the rest of the country.

Poverty and crime are major issues throughout America. N.O. is not alone with these problems.

The current "crime wave" illustrates one of many effects that THE LARGEST DISASTER in THE HISTORY OF the USA causes. There are multiple factors compounding this problem:
- A Justice System that was literally wiped out. Records destroyed, jails / holding cells gone, judges & attorneys displaced; & ineffective police force.
-Families were destroyed. There are many, many more homeless teens who have not been reunited with families & are squatting in abandoned buildings. What else do uneducated, homeless teens do in other cities to make a living?
-The National Guard is not allowed to actually police & protect. Their assigned duty is to protect empty, damaged residences. Which need to be bulldozed; but a host of insurance / homeowner / litigation issues are preventing that process.
-There is no leadership coming from the city. Grassroots effort like the March Against Violence, after Helen Hill's death, by a couple thousand citizens speaks loudly about New Orleanians first attempts to confront the violence problem.
Posted By Anonymous Amber H. Baton Rouge, LA : 4:24 PM ET
I once lived in New Orleans. It's a very charming and unique city, but it will never be what it once was.

At some point you have to cut your losses and just move on. Is living in New Orleans that important? There is no one left, just ghosts. What heritage are you trying to save?

I am originally from New York City, and I had a girlfriend in New Orleans who told me that she'd never leave. Five generations of her family were born and raised in New Orleans, and to her New Orleans was the center of the Universe. But Katrina destroyed her universe.

She's ok though. There is a whole world out there, outside of New Orleans.
Posted By Anonymous John Verco, New York, NY : 4:25 PM ET
I'm retired Navy. Have seven years stationed in NOLA, Lived on WEst Bank worked on Poland Ave., East Bank. Drove trough Quarter everyday....loved it, always traveled in Groups (1982-1991 timeframe). Never felt threated, because we knew where not to go. Unfortunately where not to go was public housing areas or predominately black neighborhoods. During Katrina my family stayed glued to the TV....however now we say we are from Gretna...until Katrina my wife would say she's from NOLA. We were maried there she's from there. Long before Katrina, most of our middle class working friends moved to Mississippi and commute to WestBank jobs. We were down for MARDI GRAS in 2003, spent a week. An amazing thing I noticed then was the nuber of friends 40-70 years old there actually carried hand guns for protection. It's so sad. We will never, ever visit again.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Raleigh, NC : 4:26 PM ET
What percentage of the people posting live in New Orleans? 3% maybe? Coming to visit a few times for Mardi Gras does not make you an expert.
Posted By Anonymous Kelli, New Orleans, LA : 5:40 PM ET
Crime has been bad in certain areas of New Orleans for as long as I can remember (I'm 38, and that's long enough). I just visited the city a couple of weekends ago for tea at The Windsor Court. My dad and stepmom just spent a long weekend in the same area around Poydras and Harrah's. We were in the tourist trap areas granted. It all felt pretty safe, though.

Yes the city still has its bad spots. Yes people need to be aware as they walk the Quarter and other areas, especially those off the "beaten path". But I refuse to live in fear. I will be cautious. I will follow common sense and crime prevention suggestions. And I will enjoy what is left of the New Orleans I have always loved.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 5:55 PM ET
It still appalls me the sense of entitlement this city demands. Looking at the response to 9/11, it was the CITY and STATES of NY, CT, NJ, and PA who took care of 99% of the response and cleanup. Federal assistance was barely a backup. Yet in LA they all blamed the Federal govt for not responding quickly enough. They have known for decades that this WOULD happen and yet set no money aside for the response. Time for the residents to stand up and start taking control of their situation down there. If they won't, then turn the place into a park and move the residents somewhere else, its not worth continuing to waste our federal taxes on.
Posted By Anonymous Steve Middletown CT : 5:57 PM ET
EDUCATION.

There are kids in New Orleans on waiting lists to get into school. It's really not that much of a mystery.
Posted By Anonymous Deanna Baltimore, MD : 6:01 PM ET
The crime in NOLA is not something that appeared after Katrina. It was in place long B4. When the storm hit & the refugee's needed immediate help, LA neighboor TX stepped in. Now what we have is High Spikes in Crime in cities like Houston, that can be directly traced to Katrina evacuee's. We held job fairs to help folks restart lives, very few showed up. Texas doesn't have the lax welfare program available in LA. So many seem to be unable to cope w/out government $ help. So they then turn to crime for financial support.

One thing I will say is Attitude Reflects Leadership. With the incapable LA Gov. & whine baby Mayor Nagin setting an example, I don't see how this Historic City can be salvaged
Posted By Anonymous Lin, Dallas Texas : 6:04 PM ET
I lived in New Orleans in 1989, 1990 and 1991. I was at Tulane University. I was robbed and everyone that I knew was robbed. Adjacent to the sidewalk wherever you walked was a continuous presence of broken glass from broken car windows. If you said that the French Quarter was completely safe you obviously do not know what that means. I would guess that one tourist was murdered each week in the French Quarter not including all of the muggings etc. I only felt safe in in French Quarter near the river and Canal Street and that was a New Orelens "safe" which meant that you had a slightly lower expectation of being robbed at any moment.
New Orleans always has been a nasty place through its 200+ year history and always will be!
Posted By Anonymous fred spokane wa : 6:08 PM ET
I was born and raised in New Orleans, after college I moved to California for my career. After Katrina I moved back.

I feel that we are being painted in a very poor light. While we are having problems, they are no different from any other major city in this country but because of the disaster the vultures are circling looking for a story. What happened here was huge and things aren't going to be fine in the blink of an eye. I work in the French Quarter and feel perfectly safe. I walk through the streets alone any time of day. Something I never did in Los Angeles.

The city does need help, but you don't abandon your family and your home when they need you most. Every major city suffers the same illnesses, New Orleans is no exception. It saddens me when people brush it off as a lost cause when their cities have the same faults. People here are very kind and generous. There is a very small population of people who are rotten but that is not true of the whole population. Many are not looking for a hand out and resent the others who are.

New Orleans is not beyond repair. Look at the people who are working for a change and rebuilding their homes. We are here and we are proud of our city and our culture. If people want to help New Orleans visit it. See why people stay and love it but please don't dismiss it.
Posted By Anonymous Allison, New Orleans LA : 6:11 PM ET
My teenage daughter is graduating in June. Her dream has alway been to go to Tulane. We visited a couple of months ago and it's a gem of a school. This ceaseless and senseless crime may be the only reason we deter her from realizing her dream. I would be interested in hearing from Tulane parents and students on this subject.
Posted By Anonymous Lily, Shreveport, Louisiana : 6:14 PM ET
As an animal rescue volunteer, I relied on the mercy and support of officers within the 5th District of New Orleans to help save the lives of numerous forgotten animals long after Katrina hit. It was through many nights, traveling with their escort, that I came to know them as individuals, and witnessed their unimaginable chaos. I met a social worker, assigned to help them cope, and learned that even now, more than a year following the storm, that nearly half of them are patrolling without standard issue bulletproof vests due to failed policies. It's pretty difficult to recruit under these circumstances. As a result I have created a non-profit organization, Vest Up, to help both the officers and canines in their overwhelming task of bringing order to their city. Please visit www.vestup.org for detailed information and/or if you would like to make a tax deductible contribution.

Gratefully,
Maura Rose Gallagher
Executive Director, Vest Up
Posted By Anonymous Maura Rose Gallagher, Pasadena, CA : 6:29 PM ET
Hey John from MI, I have a question for you based on your comments:

"I did not choose to live on the coast, I did not choose to live in a city destine for destruction and still do not choose to live in a city that is being rebuilt with the knowledge that some day, maybe sooner or maybe later, it again WILL feel mother natures wrath. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people that chose to live where they are and I feel even worse taht my money is being spent to rebuild that city. I DO feel sorry for the people in Florida as they did not knowingly live where the destruction of their lives was inevitable. For that, I accept my taxes being spent.

Posted By John, Mt. Pleasant Michigan : 3:32 PM ET"

What are you going to say when San Francisco gets the big one? Aren't those people living on borrowed time? Don't say you didn't know. And the people in Florida don't know they're going to get hit w/ hurricanes??!?!???!! Where have you been for the last 20 years?
Posted By Anonymous TJ, Baton Rouge LA : 6:39 PM ET
To anybody who says NOLA should not be saved because it will wash away again and it's a waste of your tax dollars, let's face it.. ANY US city could have a disaster of the magnitude of Katrina. We're obligated as Americans to rebuild NOLA, just as we would be to rebuild any of the great west coast cities, which are exposed to eartquakes or volcanos.. Furthermore, it should be noted the Dutch are able to habitate thousands of square miles of below sea level land because they've invested in dikes and dams.. Perhaps we should be protecting the Miss. delta in the same way instead of dumping more money and lives into the Iraq quagmire..
Posted By Anonymous Al Sterling Va : 7:35 PM ET
There are many causes to this increased crime in New Orleans. Other than some of the gang bangers returning with gang members from other cities, there is a lack of an effective judicial system in New Orleans which fosters this lawlessness and also a lack of infrastructure.

Some of the gang bangers from New Orleans hooked up with gangs from other cities, and have returned to New Orleans to stake out territory. From that has erupted a war between these groups for turf.

New Orleans has had a long problematic history with trying to enforce the laws. Until recently, there was a judge in New Orleans who regularly reduced bonds on violent felons in the name of giving them a second chance. Luckily the State finally took him off the bench. However, these criminals are still coming to New Orleans from all directions because of the lack of an effective judicial system and expected money to be made from the drug trade. The new Distirct Attorney took over the office a few years ago and fired most of the ADAs and investigators, then replaced them with his own hand picked bunch. None of the people he put in those positions had much experience, or any at all. This DA has lost numerous cases recently because his ADAs are unable to handle even the simpliest cases and criminals walk due to that incompetence.

The city has no funds for an indigent defender fund so some criminals walk because there is no one to defend them in court. Some individuals languished in jail for months without going to trial, so now they have to start releasing them. Some felons walk because the evidence room was in a cellar that flooded during the storm and now there is no evidence to prosecute them.

Add to all the above problems the lack of police. The New Orleans police department is understaffed by more than two hundred officers and losing more each day.

Wide areas of the city are unpopulated with no one there, even with the addition of the National Guard and State Police. Bush has his troop surge to secure Iraq, what New Orleans needs is a troop surge to put a couple guardsmen in every block, fully armed, and put a clamp down on those areas where these criminals are prospering. Also there is a need for increased presence on the Westbank of the city to root out the criminal element that is just now starting to establish itself. However, you can catch all the criminals, but if the criminal justice system cannot lock them up, then they go back out on the street and cause more mischief.

Unless the city can do something about the judicial system, the state might need to step in and take over.
Posted By Anonymous Jim C, Marrero, LA : 7:54 PM ET
Why do people away from New Orleans always carry on about how their taxes pay for our repairs? Last time I looked at my check, I was also paying taxes. I don't compain about my taxes being spent in California, New York or Florida. This city is still alive and operating; not ideally, but it is still here. Comments suggesting bulldozing it down are ignorant and mean-spirited. Apparently a number of prominent real estate developers do not share your pessimism.
Posted By Anonymous Katie, New Orleans, LA : 8:35 PM ET
It seems like everyone just wants to give up. Why help people from a bad situation if they are American? What is with everyone? If we could have one day of the spending spent in Iraq, New Orleans could be rebuilt. No city or place is perfect shouldn't the everyone work together to help this situation instead of giving up? Last time I checked I grew up in America and not France. What is with this defeat attitude? Wake up and do something!
Posted By Anonymous Monica, Houma, LA : 10:20 PM ET
Last December, My mom and I thought we was going to New Orleans with grandmother social club, every year the run casino trips around Mississppi and sometime we go to Memphis or go to New Oreleans. This time it was me and my mom going because the rest of the family had obligations to tend to. Anyway I ask my mom if there would be people on the trip that was my age can we go out late night to Boubourn Street, by the way I am 22 yrs old. My mom said to me Hell No, because of dangers of New Orleans and plus we have not been there since Katrina. Years before I was born my mom,uncles,aunt,and my grandmother used to go to New Orleans every Labor Day weekend they said it was different they was all together. I was debating with my mom if I can still go to boubourn street and she was telling me how young women and older women were being killed or even raped out there. It is a crime shame that they had those many murders and this just only Feburary. I ask God every day when is to going to end.
Posted By Anonymous Selena, Birmingham, Al : 12:05 PM ET
I have lived in New Orleans my entire life, 39 years. The crime problem is nothing new but because it is now national news and adversely affecting tourism, it is being addressed. But it's too late and the crime will continue. Many poor young people have no mentors/role models, are ostracized/abandoned by the middle/upper class and face a dead end in New Orleans. Living here is all about how much you have and who you know. A life of crime/drugs is appealing because it pays more than a hotel/restaurant job and there is a good chance of NOT being captured. Black and white middle/upper class residents in New Orleans should follow in the footsteps of Brad and Angelina and take action to help the poor/disadvantaged instead of hiding in their neighborhoods and social circles.
Posted By Anonymous Joyce, New Orleans LA : 12:38 PM ET
Since Katrina, and Rita hit things have really been so sad in this country. The lack of humanity for one another at a time when we should be supporting one another. The reason the crime is worse is simple. The criminals are still doing what they were doing before, and so are the politicians. New Orleans has always had crime, and alot of it. Im from there. I know the truth. Nagin was the choice they made, but not the best choice for the city. Wanting to keep the city "black" seemed more important than and getting their homes, and their lives back. The streets of New Orleans have been wrecked for YEARS!! why? Taxes have always been paid..why? The French Quarters does not define my home. Its a part of it, just like Whitney Bank on the corner of Broad and Canal. The things that are important to the citizens that make and make that city, and whats important to the politicians is two totally different things. My home will never be the same, it will never be. Fixing New Orleans means someone is gonna have to step up and out the box. The safety zone is bull..and each day the responsibility is passed around, and Bush is closer to getting out of office, and more money is being funneled into the contractors pockets, and mean while...nothing gets done. Thanks Anderson for keeping the light on New Orleans, but they dont give a damn. Thats obvious in words and deed.
Posted By Anonymous Atlanta, Georgia : 2:17 PM ET
My daughter is a junior at Tulane and loves it, she couldn't wait to return after Katrina. She lives off campus and loves NOLA.Let your daughter go to Tulane!!!!
Posted By Anonymous cindy,east lyme CT : 2:49 PM ET
Someone has to call for sweeping change in the city and/or state government there in New Orleans. Can someone tell me why the residents there voted Ray Nagin back into office on the last election cycle? Granted, the Federal Government had their faults during Katrina, but Ray Nagin is equally culpable -- he could have gotten a lot more residents out of that city a lot sooner and failed, and for that matter, so did the Governor, Kathleen Blanco. Neither of these people appear to be doing anything about solving the problems in New Orleans.
Posted By Anonymous J. Katz, New York, NY : 12:42 PM ET
Oh, for goodness' sake, it always was a violent crime city anyway.
Posted By Anonymous julie winter, burke, VA : 5:58 AM ET
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