As Mayor Landrieu continues to intensify pressure on the criminal element in New Orleans, finger-pointing is also escalating.
Since the crime problem in New Orleans has grown over generations in a culture of corruption from the streets to City Hall, there are no easy or quick solutions. The first steps in solving any problems are defining the problems and identifying who or what is to blame.
Mayor Landrieu held a community rally at the spot where the Mother’s Day Second Line parade shooting occurred and he did a good job placing blame. The Mayor said, “No one here is at fault, but it’s everyone’s responsibility.”
Everyone is to blame – years of corruption within the ranks of NOPD, judges who have installed a revolving door on their courtrooms, communities that harbored and protected known criminals and parents who selfishly brought children into the world without any intent to actually “parent” those children. The police department seems to be the easiest target when crime increases, but of all the entities that are to blame, the police department bears the least responsibility.
At the community rally following Sunday’s shooting, City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson told the crowd the City Council was ready to stand with them and that they are working on getting more officers on the street. Let’s remember that this shooting took place with numerous police officers present. When police presence fails to deter shootings, the depth and magnitude of the crime problem is revealed.
Akein Scott, the 19-year-old suspect in the Mother’s Day shooting in which 19 people, including 2 kids, were injured fired into a crowd with no fear of consequences. Young criminals no longer fear the police, the court system or the community. That lack of fear of consequences can ultimately be traced back to parenting. Until children are taught they are responsible for their behavior, and until communities return to holding individuals--both youths and adults--accountable, this will never change.
For the first time I can honestly say I sense a change in the communities of New Orleans. Often criticized for failing to turn in individuals known to be involved in criminal activities, communities seem to be more active in providing law enforcement with information about suspects. The suspect in Sunday’s shooting was identified within 25 hours of the shooting.
Communities holding individuals accountable for criminal behavior is the first step toward turning the corner on crime in New Orleans. When First Lady Hilary Clinton promoted the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” many Americans rejected it as a promotion of the idea that government raise our children. But she was right – it does take a village to raise a child.
Years ago, if kids misbehaved on the street or at someone else’s house, the adults in that household or in that neighborhood either disciplined the child or made sure the kid’s parents knew what he or she had done. For too long, people have turned the other way. I realize times have changed and the idea of someone else disciplining your child may not be acceptable, but consider how the community’s acceptance of negative behavior has paved the way to criminal behavior.
The next step is for judges, who allow the continuation of criminal cases for reason as simple as a defense attorney didn’t show up in court, to be held accountable for the countless criminals out with long arrest records. How discouraging must it be for police officers to arrest individuals only to see them back on the street continuing their careers as criminals. Akein Scott was arrested in March not far from the spot where he allegedly opened fire on the crowd at a Mother’s Day parade, and he was well-known as a criminal to police in a nearby district.
It’s often said that “talk is cheap” and politicians have an instinct to “talk” about solving problems rather than “actually” solving problems. But, when I hear Mayor Landrieu and Police Chief Serpas talk about how important it is for communities to change and to come forward with information that leads to the arrest of criminals living among them, I realize words are only cheap if no one takes action.
As long as the Mayor, City Hall, judges and law enforcement follow through on information generated from the community, then criminals will eventually get the message that they are outnumbered! And they are. The city has identified 649 of the most violent individuals in a city with an estimated population of just over 360,000. A small percentage of people have instilled fear in our city and have tarnished the national image of New Orleans as one of America’s premier destinations for tourists, conventions and families.
It’s easy to blame outsiders for problems that are rooted in your neighborhood and it’s easy to turn away from problems that are part of someone else’s neighborhood, but the Mayor is right – “it’s everyone’s responsibility” and for the first time I sense that words are leading to action!
You align yourself with the criminal and become part of
the problem within your own community if you don't provide
information that will help law enforcement to solve crimes.
That attitude is prevalent in north Baton Rouge where similar types of crimes occur on a smaller scale and have
occurred for years.