Care might’ve forgotten about New Orleans, but crime sure has not. The city achieved a recent high for murders last year. The number was 218. That was the most murders since pre-Katrina. What a generational achievement. You would think it would be marked and analyzed with as much hoopla as the other deplorable statistics the city is known for. Instead, the most prominent recognition of this accomplishment was noteworthy for the wrong reasons. It was the sound of semiautomatic rifles echoing shots through the air on New Years Eve night.
Over at the D.A.’s office
As the New Year rang in, D.A.Jason Williams was patting himself on the back. As he would tell any reporter, successfully implementing his soft on crime strategy was a cause for celebration. It’s the beginning of a transformational approach to dealing with crime in the city. His critics are not amused. Criminals, they say, will not be prosecuted and given stiff life learning sentences. Thy are now being released with a fist bump and nod before safely returning to terrorize the streets. Victimized citizens, they say, are urged patience while this benevolently counterintuitive approach bears fruit. Meanwhile, a new sheriff is in town, vowing to team up with Williams and reduce the prison population.
Over at the NOPD
The perpetually understaffed NOPD haplessly patrols the streets. For the low low price of $194 million a year, it offers to provide minimal protection against crime while ensuring that no innocent black man will ever be shot, killed, or knelt on under its watch. It achieves this via an apparent hands-off approach to crime.
For example, citizens can attend a major sporting event downtown. We park our cars a mile from the 6th District station on MLK. Then we return to find our windows busted and any goods inside stolen. If one were to ask where the NOPD was when all this was going down, the most logical reply would be: “beats the hell out of me,” or “probably up the street.” Apparently, the unspoken motto is: no justice, no civil rights law suits.
And the outgoing Council says…nothing
With murders and shootings on the rise, and citizens riding around at night in search of a safe place to park or pump gas, candidates for the City Council collectively campaigned on a slogan of See No Crime, Hear No Crime. Meeting violence with silence, the candidates decided to get tough on Entergy and the S&WB instead. Yes, even though you now stand a higher chance of being shot or murdered, you can rest assured knowing that the Council is fighting to make sure you have more money to pay for your funeral or hospital bills via lower rates for electricity and water.
The Mayor’s like, What Crime?
The mayor, for her part, made it a priority not to make crime a priority during her campaign. The 12 other people running against her didn’t either. Since her landslide victory, Mayor Cantrell has been out and about vowing to be tough on COVID and Mardi Gras. Despite a highly contagious virus spinning variants like 45s and the murder rate off to a rip-roaring start, carnival will be televised. It marks a return to normal for New Orleans. Citizens must take the necessary precautions of course. Proper protection includes masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and a healthy amount of Kevlar.
And then the youth
Meanwhile we are now on the umpteenth generation of black kids left to roam the city with nothing to do. With their most likely immediate career path leading to bartender or waiter, kids observe the lay of the land and choose to hustle on the streets instead. Cycles of City Council representatives have brought little investment to their communities. To this day, you’re still more likely to find a 40 ounce in stores in black neighborhoods as opposed to an apple or a book.
Supplying kids with blight, bad diets, and midnight basketball has done little to curb crime throughout the years. And since there’s no sign of them pulling themselves up by their often missing bootstraps, this violent crime surge will probably be the new norm, just like COVID.
And with that, Happy New Year, people.