Monday, June 19, 2006

New Orleans call in the National Guard.

Crime: This is going to hurt the rebuilding more than anything else.

NEW ORLEANS, June 19 — In a blunt admission that the city could no longer control its growing crime problem, Mayor C. Ray Nagin asked the state on Monday to send National Guard troops to help patrol the streets of New Orleans. Hours later, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 100 troops, joined by 60 state police, would be in place as early as Tuesday morning. More are likely to arrive later in the week. The mayor's plea for help came after five teenagers were shot to death with semiautomatic weapons in the Central City neighborhood while sitting in a sport-utility vehicle Saturday morning. It was the deadliest single shooting attack in the city in 11 years, raising to 53 the number of homicides this year.
The city's Police Department has seemed ineffective at curbing a rise in drug-related violence and looting — which is isolated, for the most part, to poor neighborhoods and sparsely populated areas — even though there are almost as many officers on the force now as there were before Hurricane Katrina, and the city's population of 220,000 is less than half its former size.
Residents say they have found it difficult to rebuild because supplies and new appliances are stolen as quickly as they are delivered to unoccupied houses in largely vacant neighborhoods. "It's past time for the Guard to be here," said Larry Dupont, an electrician who lived in Gentilly before the flood destroyed his neighborhood. "I'm fed up with all that New Orleans is not doing to help its people." Still, others said they resented the militarization of the city, and do not have fond memories of the National Guard's time here immediately after the hurricane. "When they were here before it didn't exactly give me a sense of safety," said Kalli Forster, the manager of a boutique in the Uptown section. "It made me feel like I was in a war zone." Others said the move sent a frightening message. "It's basically saying that the people in charge here aren't in control," said Dawn Larsen, a waitress in Uptown.

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