People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Is post-Katrina crime about to increase?

Posted by schroeder915 on November 26, 2005

The Times-Picayune today reported that Jabar Gibson, hailed by some people as a “hero” for commandeering a bus and shepherding 60 Fischer housing development residents to Houston, was booked yesterday for possession of heroin with intent to distribute. I guess that could put a chill on his movie deal. I think it’s a little suspicious that those people needed to be evacuated, or that commandeering a bus was “heroic” — the Fischer project is in Algiers on the West Bank of the Mississippi, which didn’t flood at all. Granted, I’ll accept the argument that there may have been a shortage of food and potable water. It’s hard to say — I wasn’t there.

At the gas station today, a guy asked me for change for food. Yeah, it’s always uncomfortable. I almost always stick to my gut reaction and never succumb, unless it’s a kid asking. The last time I gave a guy money (5 or 10 dollars) for “gas,” I later saw him soliciting more people for money. People like that make people like me mean-spirited and unwilling to spontaneously help those who really need the help. The guy who asked me for money today has no reason to need money for food. There’s food being given away all over town by the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, churches and other charities. Furthermore, it barely deserves mention, I’ll bet I could have pointed to a half-dozen signs on the neutral ground offering jobs paying a minimum of $10 an hour. I think the fact that someone approached me for money today is one more sign that things are getting back to (ab)normal.

Last night, 3 or 4 police cars went racing down the street with lights and sirens. It’s the first time I’ve heard sirens since I’ve been back to New Orleans.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a report of a woman stabbed in the Marigny, in the home of a writer, who was found beaten and in critical condition. The stabbing was attributed to a domestic dispute in the next day’s paper. Yesterday, the paper only said that there was no sign of forced entry, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the victims didn’t know the perpetrator. Yesterday’s article also noted that a 25-year-old man was gunned down as he sat behind the wheel of a Dodge Stratus in the 900 block of LeBoeuf Street. Well now, that’s interesting — that’s the same neighborhood in the Fischer project where the bus driver “hero” was dealing heroin.

As I drive around town, I’m seeing more of the poorer parts of the city being populated. Unfortunately for law-abiding residents of those neighborhoods, as for the rest of the city, those are also the areas where criminals concentrate. Where there’s poverty, there’s sure to be crime. It’s sad, but that’s just the truth. What’s even more troubling is my hunch that many of the people from relatively poor neighborhoods who are likely to not return are those who were able to find jobs wherever they evacuated. The remainder who return may not be people who have skills or a work ethic.

I’ve also been seeing people living on the streets with shopping carts. I don’t particularly mind them, as long as they’re harmless, and not living on my street — but it’s another sign that the crime-free semi-idyllic island we were living on for a few weeks is about to change.

The obituary pages in the weeks after Katrina were almost exclusively populated with people who were seniors when they passed away. This past week, 3 or 4 of the obituaries are people 30 years old or younger – and yes, every one that I’ve seen in that age bracket were black males.

My fear, as I’ve stated elsewhere, is that drug dealers will move back into the city to try to establish their turf before their competitors do, as will other criminals, before the police figure out what’s happening. I’m still hearing reports of looting — especially in raised homes, or homes with second floors, so there has always been a cadre of criminals in the city. I suspect there may be more looting in the coming weeks. Hopefully, the arrest of the heroin dealer in the Fischer project is a sign that the New Orleans Police Department is ready to handle crime.

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2 Responses to “Is post-Katrina crime about to increase?”

  1. The guy who asked me for money today has no reason to need money for food. There’s food being given away all over town by the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, churches and other charities.

    I always thought it was a good idea to put together a list of food banks with addresses, and a bus schedule. And, it actually addresses the need they express.Keep them handy in the coming days.

    Spitting in a Wishing Well

  2. Schroeder said

    Good point. It’s difficult for me to keep a cool head.

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