Mayor Landrieu gives speech on crime in New Orleans

As the mayor spoke, a slideshow displayed images of recent New Orleans crime victims. There have been 1,003 murders since Landrieu took office in May of 2010. 

Canela López, News Editor

New Orleanians and Tulane students alike gathered on Wednesday evening in Dixon Hall for New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu’s speech on “Violence in New Orleans.”

The presentation was held to outline Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy, NOLA FOR LIFE, which addresses the city’s high crime rate.

In 2009, New Orleans had the highest murder rate of any city in the U.S., with 52 murders per 100,000 people, according to the Times-Picayune. Though the rate has since fallen, it remains higher than the average of most American cities, with 39.6 murders per 100,000 people in 2014.

According to the speech, over 90 percent of these murders were committed against black citizens and 80 percent of the victims and perpetrators knew each other.

“We are a city, we are a country that is drunk on violence and we need to wake up,” Landrieu said.

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NOLA FOR LIFE approaches the issue through crime prevention, intervention, enforcement and rehabilitation.

The mayor’s plan puts forth 29 new initiatives that will aid in the implementation of the four-prong approach. These include after school programs like Midnight Basketball and CeaseFire New Orleans, along with donating more money to the New Orleans Police Department.

The after school programs serve the purpose of stopping the cycle of violence by preventing disenfranchised children from joining gangs and engaging in dangerous crimes.

Members of NOLA FOR LIFE spoke kindly of Landrieu’s initiative, giving personal stories about how the different aspects of the program that helped either themselves or their family members getting out of the cycle of crime.

“Thank you Mayor, for hearing my cry, feeling my pain, and taking action,” NOLA FOR LIFE member Katrina Peters said.

Freshman Candy Escobedo said she was skeptical of the speech. Escobedo said the location of the event reflected a lack of inclusion and transparency about the plan towards the residents affected by the high murder rate.

“I just think it’s problematic that he isn’t considering people, specifically black residents, who are actually impacted by it when giving this presentation,” Escobedo said. “The fact that he’s looking for wealthier Uptown residents for support implies he’s doing it more for social gains than to actually help the people affected by murder.”

At the end of his speech, Landrieu emphasized the importance of law enforcement and community members doing their part to help the city-wide problem of crime. Whether it was joining law enforcement or educating other members of the community on the matter, Landrieu said each citizen has an obligation to help stop the problem.

“I thank the dedicated community leaders, educators, service providers, law enforcement officials and criminal justice experts who [helped] to develop this cutting edge plan,” Landrieu said. “We have the power to turn the tide against violence and create a city of peace. If we are united there is nothing we can’t do.”