As expected, no police were present and the gunmen left the scene without being apprehended. The robbery lasted only a few minutes and is part of a very disturbing pattern. In the past few weeks, patrons at two other restaurants, Patois and Atchafalaya, were robbed by masked gunmen.
The robberies may be the handiwork of the same criminals or this may be the result of copycat attacks. Either way, innocent patrons are being terrorized and incredible damage is being done to the image of New Orleans. This city is known for its wonderful restaurants and colorful bars. If patrons don’t feel safe in these establishments, businesses will undoubtedly suffer and tourism will be severely impacted. Already, these stories are generating negative national media coverage.
At a news conference today, Mayor Landrieu and Police Chief Michael Harrison promised an aggressive investigation to apprehend these criminals. Unfortunately, the city has too few police officers to handle the amount of crime that is inundating New Orleans. On the same day the Monkey Hill robbery was announced, another murder took place in Algiers, along with an assortment of shootings and stabbings.
In 2015, the number of rapes and murders in New Orleans are both significantly higher than at this point last year. While crime is running rampant, the NOPD is still losing more officers than it is recruiting and is currently at least 500 officers below the acceptable level for a fully functioning police force.
The weakened police department is one of many problems in the broken criminal justice system in New Orleans. The Orleans Parish Criminal Court judges are allowing too many violent criminals to roam the streets of the city. Leniency can have tragic results for our crime victims as the only place for violent criminals in New Orleans is behind bars.
With a tsunami of crime and brazen attacks on our restaurants and bars becoming commonplace, Mayor Landrieu is offering little more than platitudes. Sadly, his real focus over the last several weeks has been his misguided crusade to remove four Confederate monuments from New Orleans. This controversial campaign has included multiple seminars, workshops, forums, hearings and other opportunities for public input. In contrast, there have been no anti-crime rallies or other public events to galvanize the citizenry against this crime epidemic.
Seemingly, the Mayor cares more about fighting monuments than fighting crime. While Atchafalaya restaurant was being robbed, Mayor Landrieu was in Philadelphia to meet with the Pope and other leaders at the “World Meeting of Families.” Several weeks ago, he visited the Pope in Rome to discuss the supposed problem of global warming. While these may be nice junkets for the Mayor and his administration, the people of New Orleans have more pressing concerns such as how to finish a restaurant meal before being robbed.
Mayor Landrieu certainly knows that among New Orleans residents, the global warming issue is not paramount. He must also know that the best way to help families in the city is not to attend a summit in Philadelphia but to provide a safe environment for citizens to live.
Instead of taking junkets or trying to rewrite history, it would be much better for Mayor Landrieu to deal with the present day crisis in his city. It deserves his undivided attention and complete focus and not to be treated as an afterthought. The citizens of New Orleans not only deserve safe streets, they also deserve much better political leadership than they are receiving today.