New Orleans Mayor Seeks Troops After Shootings

CNN, June 19, 2006

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP)—Mayor Ray Nagin asked the governor Monday to send National Guard troops and state police to patrol his city after a violent weekend in which five teenagers were shot to death.

City leaders convened a special meeting to voice outrage after the killings Saturday in an area near the central business district.

“If we don’t have wind knocking us down, we have shooters knocking us down, and that’s unacceptable,” said City Council President Oliver Thomas.

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Along with the city’s population, murder and other crimes plummeted for the first months after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city last August. Current estimates vary but the city is believed to have less than half its pre-storm population of about 455,000.

However, crime has been creeping up since then. Although the total of 52 murders since Jan. 1 is half the number at this time last year, 35 of them have been since the start of April, more than double the 17 in the first three months.

City Council members promised swift action against violence as the city tries to repair itself.

“The crime issue—once it begins to surface itself as a centerpiece again, everything else falls out the window,” Councilman Oliver Thomas said. “It just dampens all our possibilities and probabilities.”

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