Tuesday, 01 November 2011 17:39

New Orleans: Murder, Mayhem And Madness

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City Hallsix weeks ago i wrote in this space about the need for our city leaders to do something dramatic and game-changing about violent crime in new orleans. i didn’t just criticize, i presented a comprehensive plan of attack called “worst to first” as at least one alternative and urged dramatic changes before it was too late.

 it is now officially too late.

as i write this column at 4 am on halloween night, at least one person has been reported killed and at least eight more reported shot and injured in a hail of gunfire in the midst of celebrations on bourbon street, while a second shooting of four victims occurred just blocks away near canal and burgundy streets. 12 people shot in and around the french quarter in a matter of minutes.

dear god.

this will be a national and international news story when the sun rises on all saints day. it is a disaster that will last far beyond tonight for the families and loved ones of all those personally impacted by these hideous acts.

it is also a disaster that will last far beyond tonight for our city, and it should be.

shame on us for tolerating such madness and failure. what will it take to shake us from this business-as-usual zombie walk of sameness that invariably results in this cycle of never-ending violence?

at this short notice the details of the crime are still sketchy and limited, but the truth is i don’t care what they are. the fact that these circumstances exist, this environment exists, where such an atrocity can occur in the heart of our city, on one of the busiest and most festive nights for locals and visitors alike, is breathtaking.

the human toll is hideous enough; no crystal ball is required to foresee the damage this will do to the vast tourism industry that is so vital to the economic wellbeing of our city and our citizens. this is what is known as a public relations nightmare of gargantuan proportions.

who in their right minds will not think twice before visiting here any time soon, especially if they haven’t already bought and paid for their trips? what convention group will consider entrusting the wellbeing of their conventioneers to us now?  for that matter, what sane ceo would consider moving their business, their employees, their loved ones here now? none, that’s who.

i certainly can’t in good conscience encourage anyone to come visit here anytime soon. maybe that’s what it will take for our bureaucrats to wake up: a boycott of the city encouraged by the people of the city. now there’s a tourism slogan for the ages: “new orleans? what are you, nuts?”

we’re told by some at city hall that we have enough police on our streets, or conversely, that we’re doing all we can with what we can afford. tell me that again today, so i can spit in your eye. newsflash: we can’t afford to not afford more and better police now; or better programs to keep minor offenders from becoming major criminals; or better schools to give our youth a meaningful alternative to the violence on our streets; or more resources for the rest of the criminal justice system to make justice serve us effectively for an overdue change. don’t tell me we can’t afford it, because without these things, soon we won’t be able to afford anything else.

all these changes must occur, and i realize that these are not things accomplished overnight. but the one thing we can do pretty damn quick is hire more cops at better pay from elsewhere, and train more here at home.

nothing is more important to the future of new orleans than the safety of our citizens and guests. the city must fund violent crime prevention accordingly, take the dramatic steps necessary to get the job done, and hire the best and brightest to deliver. the time for politics is over. the time for dramatic change is now. the cost of doing anything less is too frightening to consider any longer.

we demand more and better protection, not just for major events and crime scenes, but to nail unrepentant violent criminals before they do this to us again, and not only in the french quarter but everywhere. fast track the investigations of corruption within our justice system and get the crooked and corrupt behind bars with the rest of the criminals asap, because these people sap our resources and are accessories to the violence we endure.

please, no more crime summits or prayer vigils or any other dog and pony show pose-for-the-cameras garbage. until our elected leaders admit this epic failure, make the hard choices, find the guts to do what is required and take dramatic action now, we’ll all be living …and dying…with the devastating consequences of what’s left.

-sid arroyo

New Orleans Doesn’t Need Crime Summit To Be US’s Safest City

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Sidney Arroyo

Sidney Arroyo is a progressive political activist and consultant who has worked on numerous campaigns in the New Orleans area.

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