Viewpoint: Support public safety officers threatened with furloughs

People are getting desperate. Led by an increase in homicides and aggravated assaults, the crime wave sweeping across New Orleans and America can be blamed in large part on COVID-19 and the economic turmoil it has caused. A recent Council on Criminal Justice analysis of homicide rates in 27 U.S. cities found that the sheer number of crimes increased sharply during the summer months.  Overall domestic violence and carjackings are also skyrocketing together with drug and gang violence.  

Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s almost singular focus on reducing the virus in Orleans Parish has successfully limited hospitalizations and deaths, especially as the virus’ latest wave is wreaking havoc nationally. We applaud her for those efforts. Yet its accompanying financial devastation is driving up crime in New Orleans as desperate individuals resort to reckless acts to put a few dollars in their pockets.  

Along with a very real concern about how to pay the bills during New Orleans’ stalled economic recovery are factors such as an increase in gun sales, mental health issues such as depression, boredom and a lack of interaction with others. 

New Orleans is a poor city where the Police Department has perpetually been understaffed and underpaid by regional and national standards.

It’s hurricane prep time again in New Orleans

For the seventh time this year, New Orleans is in the path of a tropical system. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for New Orleans on Tuesday morning, as Hurricane Zeta headed north from the Yucatan Peninsular with a late-Wednesday landfall predicted for southeastern Louisiana. City officials are urging residents to prepare today for a hurricane. To help with that prep, the city is distributing sandbags this morning. District B Councilman Jay Banks announced free sandbag distribution for New Orleans residents at Dryades YMCA, 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., from 8 a.m. until supplies run out.

Volunteers needed for drive-thru flu-shot event at Audubon Zoo

On Monday (Oct. 26), the city will host a free flu-shot event at the Audubon Zoo, serving the dual purpose of providing flu shots to residents during flu season and helping public health and safety officials test plans for large-scale vaccine administration in anticipation of a future FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. The New Orleans Medical Reserve Corps and the NOLA Ready Volunteer Corps are recruiting volunteers to assist in this and future vaccine administration events. Volunteers will be assigned various medical and non-medical duties:

Medical providers are needed to give flu shots. Non-medical volunteers are needed to support vaccination site operations, including patient registration, measuring throughput and flow, supply restocking, and logistics support.

Neighbors hold nightly vigils in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Protests and demonstrations calling for social justice have continued across the country for months now, including here in New Orleans. Every night, groups in neighborhoods throughout the city come together at 6 p.m. on-the-dot to silently kneel, sit or stand for nine minutes to demand justice for George Floyd, who was murdered by police officers in late May, and to show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. “The Kneeling for 9 Minutes movement is bringing together neighbors from all walks of life and various backgrounds who all want to see our country make more progress toward ending systemic racism and creating a more just and equitable society,” said resident Angie Breidenstine, an organizer of one of the Uptown nightly vigils. “Meeting every night is a way to keep the issues visible and central–for ourselves and for our community.”

Purposely gathering on neutral grounds during high-traffic hours at main intersections—such as Oak Street at Carrollton Avenue, Magazine Street at Napoleon Avenue, and Bonnabel Boulevard at Metairie Road — the demonstration is blatantly visible to the hundreds of cars that pass each evening. While some respond with snickers and shouts of opposition from rolled-down windows, most responses come in forms of car honks and chants of support.

Live explosive found in Broadmoor neighborhood

The New Orleans Police Department in coordination with the FBI disposed of a live explosive device found in a Broadmoor area home on Sept. 1. At around 3:40 p.m., Second District officers responded to a home in the 4100 block of Walmsley Avenue after a hand grenade was discovered in a garage by family members cleaning out the home of a deceased relative. At that time, homes near the location were evacuated and a safety perimeter was set up as the NOPD and FBI bomb squads responded. Upon further investigation, the device was determined to be a military-grade explosive.

Viewpoint: Arthur Hunter positions himself as the people’s candidate for district attorney

Long before the honorific “criminal justice reformer” came in vogue, Arthur L. Hunter Jr. was earning a national reputation for identifying alternative solutions to incarceration aimed at decreasing recidivism. After four years as a New Orleans police officer, 12 years as a lawyer in private practice, and 23 years as the Section K Criminal District Court judge, Hunter decided the only way he could bring greater systemic change was to run for district attorney. “I am the clear choice for New Orleans voters who want a fair criminal justice system that truly addresses the needs of victims and defendants while creating programs that reduce crime,” Hunter said. A former St. Augustine High School football star, Hunter said he is running as “a candidate of the people, not a candidate of the bosses.”
Hunter, 61, said he earned the trust of the community during his stint as a police officer.