"A" does not necessarily equal "B"
Being poor in New Orleans ("A") does not make one a criminal ("B"). Conversely, the criminals recently shown on TV were not necessarily poor. Assumptions are being made by the media and politicians that are based on flawed logic.
Nagin put the problem right on the table yesterday when he spoke directly to the criminal element, saying, “Don’t come back.” WWLTV.com ran the story, which included
“a warning to the criminals and drug gangs who used to dominate certain parts of the city Thursday, saying they aren’t wanted back.”
So who are these criminals? What are those parts of the city? They may not be who you think they are… and they have infested MANY parts of New Orleans.
There’s a lot of heated debate going on right now about the problems in the Crescent City. For some unknown reason, this is being treated as “news”. One would think nobody knew that the police, regardless of race, could not safely enter some areas at all. The police only enter those places in large groups.
I wonder if anybody recalls how Jo Ellen Smith Memorial Hospital got its name? I remember. That was Algiers, folks.
There is indeed tremendous poverty in New Orleans. It’s pervasive. But in and of itself, it is little different from urban poverty throughout the United States. And while New Orleans’ population is primarily black, there are also many other races who are poor. We all saw them on our televisions – but the poor, whether white or black, did not cause the violent breakdown of order after the storm.
If the criminal element is, as Nagin seems to think, not in the city right now, where are they? Watch the news – I’m sure you’ll hear about them. They’ll be the ones causing problems in their new locales. Not because they’re poor. Because they are violent, opportunistic criminals, and they've been increasingly dangerous in New Orleans.
Interestingly, I think Nagin may be right about the city being safer than it’s been for a long time. One of the many Algiers folks who went back in after the storm to help has been working in the “former” Fischer projects area. She and her husband have been doing amazing things there: rescuing animals trapped under debris, arranging transportation (via the military) for the ill or infirm to West Jeff. Med. Center, distributing food - you name it. And as she pointed out, a month ago, they couldn’t have safely entered the area alone.
The New Orleans poor definitely need the attention of society, as do the poor everywhere. What seems to be going unstated is that people have been afraid to do much. You could be killed trying to help. There's a hospital named for someone who tried.
However it was done, the criminal element, for now, does not seem to be present. I have no idea how to keep them from coming back, but I sure hope New Orleans can find a way. That will help the poor more than television hysterics ever will.