You know that old idiom, “A rotten apple spoils the barrel”?
We had a taste of that on Halloween night when two morons on Bourbon Street and Canal Street decided to take their personal fights to the street using guns. In the process, two people were shot dead, and eight others were injured. This happened in the French Quarter among crowds of people partying at the height of one of the city’s most popular destination events, Halloween. From published reports, there were “hundreds” of NOPD in the area when these incidents occurred. Obviously, the police presence didn’t inhibit these knuckleheads from carrying—and using—weapons in a crowd of tourists and locals trying to enjoy the evening in the Quarter.
Is this the fault of the police force, then? Could the NOPD have prevented this tragedy, which could prove to be a significant blow to the city’s national reputation as a tourism destination? The national media certainly picked up on it in a hurry.
Frankly, I don’t think the NOPD could have done much, if anything, to know in advance that this would happen. They’re used to seeing these thugs in the Quarter on a regular basis.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Chief Ronal Serpas promised they would apprehend the perps, but as we know in New Orleans, there’s little likelihood of that happening. Landrieu also claimed that this was a function of the violence that’s embedded in our culture. I do agree with that, and also contend that this could happen in any city where there’s a poor population that has lost too many of its young males to drugs, crappy education, poor parenting, easy access to handguns and exposure to violence in the media.
We all realize that something has to be done, but what? More police? Admittedly, that is a possible solution for inhibiting gun violence, unless you mix in a lot of alcohol and disregard for human life. Let’s face it, knuckleheads—especially drunk or drugged ones—solve their personal issues with guns rather than fistfights or arguments, or a discussion of the matter. They aren’t thinking about a cop who might be standing a block away in a massive crowd of people.
Obviously the solution to the problem also lies in catching and punishing the thugs. In New Orleans, we’re notorious for letting the bad guys back onto the streets. The judicial system also sucks.
It seems to be an almost overwhelming problem.
It’s been suggested that the police do random searches of people on the street who they think might be troublemakers. I can’t imagine that this would work. How would you feel if you were an innocent 25-year-old black male who’d be stopped and searched because your profile was the same as the thug? The ACLU would be all over that tactic.
As longtime readers of my columns know, I’m totally against the availability of handguns. While they’re supposedly used for self-protection, many more of them are stolen from their owners and sold on the streets to the idiots who operate like New Orleans is the wild, wild west. Many, many more are killed and injured by handguns bought by criminals either legally or on the black market.
These idiots are ruining our city. They are the rotten apples that are spoiling it for the rest of us. It’s going to take a long time to cure this problem with education, role models, and proper parenting. It could take a generation, and probably more, assuming that we can start right now by beefing up the NOPD, cleaning up our our judicial system, and educating and parenting our kids properly.
So what can we do now to ensure that our city is safe, especially in tourist areas?
Increase the police force. Train them better.
Set up random checkpoints in the French Quarter and high crime areas at night, every night, that includes metal detectors. If you want to go party in the Quarter or on Frenchmen Street, then you need to relinquish your right to carry a concealed handgun. There’s such a thing as the common good, and the city needs to man up with a policy that can keep us all safe from these knuckleheads.
We have accepted the fact that we want to promote non-stop partying with alcohol thrown in a city that has a lot of poor young people in a country that tolerates violence and drug crime. So we need to be prepared for a new reality. This isn’t your mama’s time when you could walk down the street and not have to worry about getting popped by a random bullet. We have to do something radical. Fast.