By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – Now that the Confederate era monuments have come down in New Orleans, one would expect the crime rate to drop as well, at least that is the case if you subscribe to the Mitch Landrieu theory of crime control.
But of course that is not the case and residents and sick and tired of it. Last week surveillance cameras caught an attack on video of two Boston tourists in the French Quarter. The attack was brutal and hard to watch, but it serves to show us that it’s not just in the neighborhoods where we expect there to be crime that this happens. New Orleans is a city that is supported in large part by tourism and when tourists go there they go to the French Quarter. If you’re not safe there…
What is the mayor of the city doing about this rampant lawlessness in the city? Not a whole lot. He’s giving speeches in south Florida at the Conference of Mayors where he declared
“So let’s be honest. In these moments of uncertain, chaotic and sometimes frustrating times, the families we represent cannot look to Washington for answers,” Landrieu said. “In this political climate, we as mayors must fight to occupy the radical center, where idealism meets reality and where we put people over politics.”
He opened the Essence festival which gave him yet another opportunity to advocate for the removal of the monuments:
The mayor restated his position that though the Civil War was a brief period in the city’s history, the monuments had lingered as symbols for too long and had no place on a contemporary New Orleans public thoroughfares. He called the former situation “absurd.” He put a finer point of the subject when he described the proximity of the now-removed Robert E. Lee statue to the Convention Center. “Just think about it for a moment,” he said, “having the Confederate monuments stand less than 300 yards from where the Essence Festival meets, that juxtaposition seems like it just doesn’t work.”
While Landrieu is positioning himself for a national bid of some sort when his term ends later this year, the city is in the grips of a terrible crime wave which is certain to affect tourism. This has nothing to do with monuments of course, but more with the fact that Landrieu has refused to pay police officers a decent wage and implemented a two year hiring freeze on police officers which dropped numbers by 400 officers, a 40-year low.
As of this writing, there have been 96 murders (many more shootings, muggings, robberies, rapes, etc.) in 2017 as compared with a total of 175 in 2016. The numbers are higher each month this year than in comparable months for 2016.
Residents are sick of it.
James Hartman, writing for The Hayride blog, says
The French Quarter is safer, right? It’s the tourist area so it has extra protection. It has extra taxes to pay for State Police protection, because while Landrieu told NOPD he couldn’t pay them more or hire more of them, he simply added a tax to hire state officials – an inexplicable paradox. It’s the area that has barricades to prevent Nice- and London-style attacks on innocents. We’re supposed to be safe there, right?
No. We’re supposed to be safe everywhere.
Realistically, of course, that’s not possible. Crime happens, and it happens everywhere. What should not be happening, however, is that a city is so overrun with lawlessness that people are beaten nearly to death in the streets, that literally hundreds of people are shot – fatally or injuriously—or that children catch stray bullets while thugs roam free. What shouldn’t happen is that the leader of a relatively major city gives speeches 1,000 miles away in which he says that statues are “virtual murders,” that the Paris Accords are the responsibility of America’s cities now, that Russians interfered with the presidential election (and, therefore, with his appointment to a Cabinet post).
As Landrieu positions himself on the national stage in the coming months we need to know the kind of leader he is. Under his tenure a once beautiful, thriving, unique city is somewhat diminished. It will take more than Mitch Landrieu to kill New Orleans, but he certainly has done her no favors.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.