Monday, July 31, 2006

New Orleans shootings tarnishing city's image

Crime: Mary Foster of the AP must be new to the beat, this is New Orleans image.

"My mother warned me not to come here," said Washington, 26. "She said it was too dangerous. Maybe she was right." That attitude is what worries city leaders and those in the tourism industry — a mainstay of New Orleans' economy. There have been 78 homicides here this year, down from the 134 in the first six months of last year when Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of residents to move out. But the number is growing steadily. There were 17 in the first three months of the year and 21 in July alone. In June, five teenagers were gunned down while sitting in a sport utility vehicle, sparking the return of state police and National Guard troops to help keep the peace in the city. This weekend, six people were shot to death in 24 hours. "It dampens the progress we are making since the hurricane," said City Councilwoman Shelley Midura. "This is not what most people in New Orleans encounter. Most people in New Orleans do not experience any type of violence. But this is the image that is being formed of the city and it will hurt us if it continues."

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