New Orleans is in the middle of a major crime wave, with homicides up 30 percent for the year, the New York Times reports. The city’s homicide rate, 54.5 per 100,000, exceeds that of Washington, the most violent large city in the United States. New Orleans ducks that distinction because its population is 14,000 shy of the 500,000 mark needed to qualify as a big city in federal crime reports.
Some ministers are asking for the National Guard to be sent in. “Certain neighborhoods are under siege,” the Rev. Torin Sanders, a Baptist preacher, said. “The last three months I’ve done at least five funerals, just homicides alone.”
No one knows exactly why killings in New Orleans are increasing. Nationally, there is no clear trend, with homicides this year down in some places, like Detroit, and up in others, including Philadelphia. Over all, violent crime is much lower than it was during the mid-1990’s, when killings hit a peak.
In New Orleans, like many other places, the poor job market is often blamed. “The economy is not booming right now, and there’s definitely a correlation between the economy and crime,” New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass said. Other factors include recent turf wars that broke out after two big public housing complexes were shut down and residents were shifted to other projects. Then there are the budget cuts that depleted inner-city services.