This action is being taken in response to the escalating violence in the French Quarter. In addition to countless armed robberies and simple burglaries of cell phones, purses and other items, there have been a number of recent murders in the French Quarter. On Halloween night, there was a horrific series of incidents on Bourbon Street and other areas in the city. In the past few months, there have been other high profile crimes involving both tourists and locals.
The French Quarter is the crown jewel of New Orleans tourism. It must be kept as safe as possible so that the influx of tourists will keep coming to the city. Like it or not, the bawdy French Quarter is the top tourist attraction of New Orleans; however, it will lose its appeal if visitors fear for their safety.
Hopefully, the curfew will be extended throughout the city. It is needed because New Orleans is the Murder Capital of the nation. In 2011, 199 people were killed, which represents a significant increase over 2010, another year that New Orleans led the nation in murder per capita.
Drastic times demand drastic measures. Along with the curfew, the National Guard should be deployed to New Orleans to bolster the NOPD. Right now, the police force is down several hundred officers from its peak prior to Hurricane Katrina.
Clearly, the city needs more police manpower on the streets to battle the ever-growing criminal population. Until new recruits can be added to the force, the National Guard and State Police should be used to fight crime.
While an earlier curfew is a very sensible move to battle out of control crime, some activists are crying racism.
Tracy Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute has called for a “Blackout” of the French Quarter starting January 16. She wants African Americans to boycott French Quarter businesses and refuse to spend their money in that part of the city. Incredibly, she believes that the 8 p.m. curfew is directly at only African American youths, even though the ordinance does not mention race. Any child 16 and under will be stopped by police, regardless of race.
Ms. Washington had plenty of company at the City Council yesterday, decrying the earlier curfew. Activist W.C. Johnson said the move is a way to “bring the black community under control.”
Such comments are misguided and will only hurt the large number of African Americans who work in the French Quarter and depend on visitors spending their money at local establishments.
These comments are typical of what happens in civil rights debates throughout the country. Unfortunately, some civil rights activists see racism in every move that is made. As a result, the term “racism” has lost its meaning since it is thrown around so often. This curfew ordinance is clearly not racist, it is just common sense.
Congratulations to the New Orleans City Council for disregarding these inflammatory statements and voting 6-0 to enact the earlier curfew. It is not going to solve our crime problem, but it is a step in the right direction.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].
DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THIS COLUMN--TELL US BELOW
Read more by Jeff Crouere