Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Orleans Is Rough But It's Not The Congo

New Orleans is a rough city with a lot of challenges. We have some issues with our school system. We have some issues with our police department. It’s true we have a criminal element that makes their presence known. By no means am I saying this is an urban paradise but calling us one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world? That’s bullshit. I probably wouldn’t argue being on a top ten list of cities in the U.S. but making the world list is something I can’t sit by and tolerate. That puts us on par with places like Baghdad, Beirut, and Kinshasa of the Congo. That’s just wrong and everyone here needs to fight back against that label. I guess all those people I see riding their bikes, walking their dogs, and sitting in the park eating crawfish must all be insane and delusional according to CNN. At any minute an armed gang of thugs is going to run up and just start randomly attacking people or there will be a series of car bombings at the Jazz Festival. That’s how it appears to me by being on the list with some of these cities.

Yes, I am worried about crime and want the city to be safer. We are about to swear in a new mayor and police chief and I hope that happens quickly. I think we are trying to turn the tide but all it takes is one person doing something crazy to drain everyone’s energy when we think we might be doing better. At the same time the environment is not so tense I am ready to barricade myself in the house. If it was I and a whole bunch of others would leave. I would even say that the lack of apparent random danger makes it more complicated to deal with the crime issue in the first place.

Statistics are a useful tool to understand what’s really going on but sometimes you can have numbers without the back story and it makes things look more drastic than it is. Take the last few weeks for example. We had a quadruple murder that ended up being a family member looking for money and another triple murder that was a domestic violence dispute. That’s seven murders added to our total that was so personal and unpredictable that there was nothing anyone in any city could have done about that. Now, there have been more murders than that so far this year and I am not making excuses for the amount we have but we definitely aren’t living like the people of the Congo. Numbers alone don’t always tell the exact story.

Being added to a list like this reminds me of why having a show on a network like HBO bothered me in the first place. For some reason any labels about New Orleans stick forever and they never seem to change. When we get our new police chief and with his help along with our new mayor and the community we cut our crime statistics even lower than they have been dropping recently, we will still be seen as one of those most dangerous cities in America. According to this article we are only sixth in the U.S. in crime now and we still ended up a list with Beirut. How come Camden New Jersey keeps getting a pass?

Part of changing any situation is seeing yourself in the way you want things to be. If you view yourself in a certain manner then it’s easier to act that way and maintain it. It’s hard to be a champion if you let everyone label you a chump. If we want the world to think we are a city on the rise then we have to carry ourselves that way and reject things like this article.

4 comments:

K. said...

I can't decide whether I'm angered or bored by comments like the one blaming it all on liberal governance and a lack of spirituality and ethics. Poverty and neglect come to mind as larger factors, but maybe that's just me.

Duff said...

It goes both ways.

The CNN article quotes a Foreign Policy Magazine article from last year that was titled "most dangerous cities in the world," but really was a listing of the most dangerous in each continent (however, it clearly put Mexico in with South America where Juarez wasn't mentioned, but Caracas was). Moscow was listed as dangerous, but only by European standards.

What the FP article did right was take the murders per 100,000 as their measure. The cqpress article you cite counts everything from murders to robberies. Riley was a stickler for undercharging crimes, thus gaming the numbers. That's why the FBI uses murders to rank cities because you can't really undercharge a murder. The NOPD often undercharges attempted murders by calling them "aggravated battery by shooting," (something that only exists in Orleans Parish).

New Orleans, regardless of who you believe is right about population, is the most dangerous city in the developed world. However, I agree with your ultimate premise..it's not Juarez, Baghdad, or Peshawar.

However, CNN has never been known for its grasp of nuance.

Mark Folse said...

When I lived in D.C. on the 600 block of 4th St. N.E., two people died within a block of my house, and a horrible abduction/rape/murder began in the alley behind the other side of the street.

When we were going to Ireland for our honeymoon my wife wasn't too keen on visiting Belfast and I told her, honey, I could take you into the most partisan pub in the worst ghetto in Belfast and you've be safer than you are walking to the corner store in DC.

People either love New Orleans, or love to hate on it. I disagree about Treme. I'll take all the love we can get in this world, but this CNN story is just wrong.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Yes, though me'brutha, another week without Big Wheeled Machinery and we were talking Lord of the Flies.
That said, my nephew scraped bodies off the floor of the convention center, and he could still see the bruising on the Bones of this little girls thighs ---laying beside her decapitated father. No... Congo No... New Orleans.
No we are not the Congo, but we are Baltimore at the very least, or LA, or Chicago, or Detroit and it started with Crack.
I remember 5 homicidal muggings that week of the Flood. Indeed a friend of mine was killed. It touched everyone.
Congo no... but Apocalypse NO? Yes.
Thanks y'all for coming over to the Ladder today. This Treme has got Editilla's head all in a spin, so'z we jus'rollin wit'it ya'knowz. It's all good.
But, Cliff, you are better than good and flat fucking nailed it here, pardon my Galic.
Thanks youz