Is N.O. safe for most people?
Judge says if you aren't a black male between 18 and 35 who is involved in the drug trade, you're likely safe
05:25 PM CDT on Thursday, June 21, 2007
Despite statistics that show New Orleans is at or near the top of the nation in the dubious category of most killings per capita, some local law enforcement leaders say the city is safe for most of its residents.
Juvenile Court Judge David Bell told a criminal justice hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday that most of the crime in New Orleans occurs among a relatively narrow group of people.
"We have a very violent city if you're between 18 and 35 years old, an African-American male, and you are involved in the drug trade,” he said. “But if you don't fall in that category, we are a very safe city."
Deputy Superintendent John Bryson made similar comments at a press conference in New Orleans Wednesday.
“New Orleans is, and I’ll say now is still one of the safest cities in the world,” he said.
While statistics do bear out that the majority of the city’s violent crime victims and suspects fall into the categories that Judge Bell described, some think dismissing it as such does a disservice to everyone.
“One of the things that disturbs me is sort of the dismissal of many homicides in this city as being, well, they were asking for it,” said Ken Foster of the group Silence is Violence, a group that organized a march against violence earlier this year. “I think it’s a way of dismissing the fact that there are problems we need to address that aren’t being addressed.”
Questioned Thursday by Eyewitness News, Judge Bell said he stands by his statements and that community needs to recognize the problems facing the groups he was talking about to get them the help they need.