Skip to comments.New Orleans Didnít Just Go Nuts -- Itís Been Nuts
Posted on 09/07/2005 6:28:19 PM PDT by Cicero
New Orleans Didnt Just Go Nuts -- Its Been Nuts by Mac Johnson Posted Sep 6, 2005
Where to even begin in being one more idiot talking about Hurricane Katrina? I hate the subject. It should be a news item and a humanitarian cause --a huge recovery and reconstruction effort joined in by all. It should not be a political issue fit for commentary.
But the Hurricane tore at more than just the weaknesses in New Orleans inadequate levees. The shortcomings of the levee system were known to all who ever lived on the Gulf Coast, and in the end, all the levees really did was encourage expanded development in a huge geologic bowl sitting between a large lake, North Americas mightiest river, and the immense green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The whole booby-trap was simply yet another triumph of government subsidized and directed development. And its failure was long anticipated.
What was not anticipated was the way the Hurricane tore at our human divisions.
First out of the gate were the Holy Men of the Cult of Global Warming, who couldnt wait for the first dead to wash up before they declared the Hurricane irrefutable proof of Global Warming and a direct responsibility of George W. Bush.
Next up were the racial ambulance chasers, always looking for another grievous injury to add to their political caseload. Looking at the Sea of Black faces abandoned without transportation, food, water or protection, they somehow managed to look past the Citys Black Mayor, Black Police Chief, Black City Council members and all the other Black office holders that run the 67% Black city, and found that the whole thing was: white folks fault. Yet another example of racism at its worst.
This opened up a torrent of Bush-bashing, since he was the closest Republican that had any responsibility for the City. The Democratic Governor of Louisiana -- though white -- was merely a victim of the whole thing it seems, just like the Mayor of New Orleans. Nobody has any power in this world other than George Bush. Nobody has any responsibility. George Bush is now the navel of the world for his enemies. If a butterfly flaps its wings in Central Park, its George Bushs fault. And the butterfly is racist. And it was blown there by Global Warming.
And at some point during the disaster, the most disturbing of all the infighting began. The thugs of New Orleans turned on their neighbors like a Mongol horde. Looting erupted, as did arson and robberies, shootings and beatings. Rape became an organized crime as gangs preyed on the defenseless stranded girls of New Orleans. Pharmacies were looted and hospitals were surrounded and invaded in a manic hunt for drugs. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin couldnt stop such junkie armies from destroying much of what was left of the Citys medical infrastructure, but he could excuse them, explaining that it was all just people looking for something to take the edge off their jones, if you will. Actually, no, I wont. (The mayor added a few minutes later in the same interview: You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly. And nobody said different, Mayor.)
Barbarians with an edgy jones shot a cop in the head, shot a national guardsman, halted life-saving evacuations by firing on helicopters and humvees. Police had to mow down a gang of six shooting at contractors who came to repair the levee breaches. A group of white civilians that came into the city in private boats to save as many refugees as they could -- giving lie to the racism howls of the media -- gave up and turned back because people began shooting at them, trying to take their boats.
Soldiers who should be concentrating on rescue operations are carrying full battle gear through the streets of an American City, opening doors with rifles at the ready. Overnight, it seems, The Big Easy had become Thunderdome, and Mad Max was nowhere to be found. In the middle of the worst American natural disaster in over a century, gang warfare, anti-authority psychosis and individual malevolence finished off the hope of tens of thousands that had survived the flood. It did more to demoralize the nation than the storm had done.
The storm may have triggered the violence, but it did not cause it. What we saw in New Orleans was what happens in Americas most murderous city when the criminals realize that all the cops have left.
It wasnt desperation, or insanity, or protest. It was New Orleans, without police.
Many people believe that Washington, D.C., is the murder capital of America. And indeed it often is, but that is only because such rankings are limited to major cities those with a population of 500,000 or more, and New Orleans has (or had) a population of 485,000. Were it not for this actuarial accident, Washington, D.C.. wouldnt even have a shot at the murder title. The per capita murder rate in New Orleans is 16% higher than in Murder Capital Washington, D.C.; and nearly 10 times the national average. To have a murder rate equal to that of New York City, New Orleans would need to reduce its murders by 86%. No, thats not a typo.
At a time when crime is plummeting in most of America, it has been steadily increasing in New Orleans. And one cause is simple: The New Orleans City Government has run its law enforcement apparatus into the ground. On a per capita basis, New Orleans has less than half as many cops as Washington, D.C.: just 3.1 police officers per 1,000 citizens. Turnover has become a huge issue, as young cops leave at the first opportunity. A report conducted for the city two years ago said that New Orleans was bleeding police officers.
The strain shows. Fewer than one in four murder cases in New Orleans results in a conviction. 42% of violent offenders have their charges dropped by prosecutors because the cases are not suitable for court. Many in New Orleans will not now testify against the thugs that they know -- more likely than not -- are going to be released Scot-free. People dont even bother calling the police in New Orleans anymore. In 2004, academic Researchers conducted an experiment in which they had police fire 700 blank rounds into the air, in a single afternoon, in one neighborhood. No one -- not one person -- called to report the gunfire. It was background noise.
The report on police levels mentioned above stated that New Orleans needs 2,000 cops just to maintain order in normal times. When Katrina struck, the city had only 1,700. No more than 1,500 are on duty now, after dislocation, desertions, resignations, and two suicides.
There is no wonder the place went chaotic. There should be no mystery. It is barely under control on a good day.
Why are the cops leaving? They are utterly demoralized. They face low pay to fight a losing war against crime in a city that will not commit resources to the battle. We have to use our own shotguns," one patrolman was quoted in the New York Times. "This isn't theirs; this is my personal gun."
They are demoralized because they have to bear the reputation of working in what is widely acknowledged as the most corrupt police department in the country. More than fifty NOPD officers were sent to prison in the 1990s, two of them to death row.
They are demoralized because they have to live in New Orleans, due to a strict residency requirement for police. And unless you are wealthy enough to live in the perpetual party of the Vieux Carre, New Orleans is not a nice place to live -- especially for those with children. 84% of officers with children reported sending them to private or parochial schools, at their own expense. Thats quite an endorsement of Mayor Nagins schools.
So they leave, and are not replaced. It is not just white flight either, for those that want to see the world through racial lenses. Most of those leaving are black officers.
All this is not to say that New Orleans has had no plan to reduce its high crime statistics. For a while, one police district tried lying about the statistics. It meant letting some violent thugs go (and with an edge on their joneses, Im told), but it was cheaper than fighting real crime; and it kept the tourists coming.
Asked if such lying meant that perhaps the NOPD should have its stats audited by an outside agency, Police Chief Eddie Compass stated, I don't need an outside agency coming in. I think we have proven that we are capable of taking care of our own house.
This is the same Chief that now screams on camera for outside agencies to just take over. As soon as order is restored, you can bet the New Orleans City Government will rediscover its need for independence -- and privacy.
The overnight crisis we saw in New Orleans this week has been a long time coming. It was just the bursting of a purulent boil that has been festering for years.
Undoubtedly, that is Bushs fault as well. Perhaps his Global Warming has been putting an edge on criminals joneses, unbeknownst to the City Government. Mr. Johnson is a freelance writer and medical researcher living in Cambridge, MA. His published commentaries can be viewed at www.macjohnson.com.
I am E-mailing this right now to some friends.
My family, however, is hopeless. They think Bush is the bogeyman.
Small time bribes went with the flood waters. What's a corrupt cop to do except loot and then split in a stolen cop car to Houston.
My brother-in-law was in graduate school at Tulane, he was mugged leaving a bar in the French Quarter a year and a half ago. On the night he was mugged, there were over a dozen other muggings and several burglaries. About six months before that his SUV had been stolen, the police never made any effort to recover it, it was only found because the theives totalled it and abandoned it a couple weeks later.
If they try that kind of stunt in Houston, they may find that the cops and prosecutors are less sympathetic to them.
Excellent article explaining where the problem really is!!!!!!
Much of my family is liberal, but this article is too persuasive to be easily dismissed, even by a fanatic liberal.
NO ought to have been sued regularly by tourists who have no clue as to the lawless hellhole they have been lured into by all the malarky about the French Quarter. Seeing a bunch of tattered buildings with wrought iron is not worth one's life. They ought to be forced to include their crime stats on every glossy tourist ad, just as pharmas have to list the side-effects of their drugs on TV ads.
LOL! You still consider them "family"?
Ping for later forwarding...
It is a good post. I grew up in new orleans. I do love the city; it does have extremes though.
I was in the french quarter on the martin luther king day a group of african american youths used sticks and bats to randomly hit white people telling them canal street was their street and no white people were allowed.
It does have a heavy presence of some rather nasty characters, whom I agree, felt they could be themselves when they knew the cops werent around.
People from the fischer projects used to snipe at cars crossing over the I10 for kicks, nonblack nurses who went into the fischer projects raped and beaten when going in to give inhome care to elderly in the housing project, and as one of very few whites at most of the schools I went to I was jumped and physically assaulted regularly. I bet the same element had a field day when they knew no cops were around.
N.O. does have its great points though, it is a true yin and yang. For all of its bad, its good is equal.
I also enjoyed this piece incase it hasnt been seen. http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007219
My sister sends me Emails from the moveon.org/Michael Moore lunatic fringe, and I throw them in the trash. If I blocked them with my spam filter, I'd never hear the end of it, so for peace in the family, I simply ignore her.
If she wants to talk about the weather, fine.
But not politics.
Actually it is the fact that most of those who are primarily responsible for defending property, the owners, had left.
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