The Most Dangerous City : Two years after Katrina, New Orleans desperately needs law and order.
To understand how New Orleans is doing two years later, consider a few recent stories. This past weekend, seven family members and friends were enjoying a quiet evening outside their home in a tranquil neighborhood on the city's east side, which was badly flooded by Katrina. Then, according to New Orleans police, gunmen forced them into their house, robbed them, and shot them all, killing two. It was the neighborhood's second such crime in two weeks. Previously, gunmen had murdered a couple, Anjelique Vu and Luong Nguyen, leaving their infant and toddler unharmed.
"The slayings . . . were the latest in a series of armed home invasions and robberies in eastern New Orleans," wrote the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Several crews of gunmen . , . have robbed and shot workers . . . and homeowners in the area, where many residents are rebuilding their flood-damaged homes." Also last week, gunmen lined up six laborers and shot three, killing El Salvadoran Julio Benitez-Cruz. (New Orleans has experienced a post-Katrina influx of Hispanic laborers, both legal and illegal, who are tempting targets for criminals because they carry so much cash from contracting jobs.)
Comment: Maybe this city should just die!
Names of victims fill church's 'murder board'
Father Bill Terry of St. Anna's Episcopal Church in New Orleans wants everyone to know what's happening in New Orleans: too many murders with too few people held accountable.
He keeps track of the slayings on what he calls the "murder board," a plastic board that hangs outside his church. He started listing murder victims earlier this year to humanize the headlines.
At first, the names were neatly typed by a printer. But as the killings continued at a rampant pace, he says, he resorted to adding victims' names by hand with permanent marker.
"Numbers are very easy to deal with emotionally. When it becomes a human being, then we start to personalize and it's harder to deal with. I want people to squirm. I want people to feel uncomfortable about the murders going on in the city," Father Bill told CNN.
In the first 29 days of this month alone, the city witnessed 27 killings, according to the New Orleans Police Department. So far in 2007, police say 137 people have been killed. That puts the city on pace for roughly 200 slayings this year.