Less of One, Twice the Other
Of these murders, few are obvious drug crimes, what was allegedly fueling the rise in crime here. Some are personal disputes fueled by any number of factors, many the same post-Katrina as pre-Katrina. The numbers break down as:
During the four weeks before the federal troops and State Police arrived, there were 230 felony arrests, 90 misdemeanor arrests and 156 narcotics arrests in the two districts, according to statistics provided by New Orleans police. From June 18 to July 19, there were 359 felony arrests, 248 misdemeanor arrests and 199 narcotics arrests in the same districts.A huge rise in misdemeanor arrests sounds like the police up to their usual--harassing and dragging away anyone who "looks" like a criminal, especially having dark skin, being male, wearing a big white t-shirt and/or baggy pants, standing on or near a corner, especially in Central City. (Like I said, Jack Strain is not the only racial profiler around.) But as Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said, "Historically in New Orleans, only a fraction of the people arrested by the Police Department were convicted. Police should strive to make quality cases."
One Month After Reinforcements Arrive: N.O. Murders Fall and Arrests Climb, July 20
Many of the murders in the illustration (the Times-Pic is excelling with visuals like this lately) seem based in the same problems we had pre-Katrina--too many guns in private hands, people desperate and angry and thwarted reaching for those guns or other lethal force before anything else. The most common arrest in town seems to still be petty drug possession, especially of marijuana, cases that are a waste of district attorneys' time. Before the hurricane, NO was steeped in violence and murderers ran the most dangerous parts of town, including (yes) housing projects. In a system in which witnesses are too scared to testify, murder charges are often dropped, leaving the murderer free to kill again and more easily intimidate his way back onto the street next time. We still have no indigent defense system to speak of, the courts recently re-opened and are overwhelmed and the district attorney's office has some problems of its own unrelated to making felony cases stick. A weakness before the storm now looks like embarrassingly deep incompetence.