The wages of “progressive” criminal justice policy continue to mount in Louisiana, with woke New Orleans still the poster child for the growing legacy of failure yet tolerated by a citizenry that perhaps finally will start to care.
Anyone paying attention in the Crescent City will know matters have gotten worse since Democrat District Attorney Jason Williams assumed office at the start of 2021. Since taking over, numbers of releases without filing charges has increased dramatically, even among those accused of violent crimes. He also has accelerated making pretrial release decisions more lenient.
Compared to 2021, year to date – and 2021 was perhaps the worst year in the city’s recent history for violent crime in the aggregate – show a 13 percent increase in total incidents and a 41 percent surge in murders. But even as things have spiraled out of control over the years – last year differed only in the severity of its spike upwards over rolling multi-year trends going back a couple of decades – many Orleanians could shut their eyes and cover their ears and chant that things like homicides, shooting, and other violent crimes didn’t happen around them, so it wasn’t all that bad.
Sure, they would assuage themselves, such things happened where they never traipsed in the “war zone” central portion of the city (frayed around the edges a bit by post-2005 newcomer gentrification), where lived people with darker skin and a whole lot less money than they. And they became immunized against the shootings breaking out in touristy neighborhoods on a fairly regular basis because, they sniffed, they wouldn’t hang out in such areas in the first place.
But they can’t ignore the cancerous spread of violent crime throughout the areas of the city they might traverse, if not reside in. Brazen carjackings have become the latest trend, in daylight often allegedly lead by teens with long rap sheets, but this weekend, in the middle of the revived Jazz Festival, might have come the event that really can shake them out of their complacency.
Friday night in the heart of the Magazine Street pub crawl zone, shots sliced into patrons around a popular watering hole that attracts trendy Millennial crowds. Fortunately, there appeared to be no deaths, but unfortunately it seemed preventable.
Because the dude that looked to be the target of what authorities suspect was a gangland feud should have been off the streets. Arrested last year for a double homicide plus two attempted murder raps, Williams dropped his bail from $600,000 to $80,000, then the charges.
An attention-grabbing event for sure, but it shouldn’t have to take that to get the ordinary Orleanian who lives above the poverty line not under an order of imprisonment or out on bail to demand a different criminal justice strategy. Crime is rising even in the toniest of neighborhoods, where, year to date in ten of the poshest, overall incidents are up 33 percent and violent crime incidents are up 40 percent, as murders held steady at three.
Even a majority on the leftist, all Democrat City Council – where Williams served prior to his DA election – tepidly has tossed in the towel, issuing a document which contains the typical ineffective bromides decrying guns and stumping for midnight basketball as well as asking for more money for public defense and greater attention to charging arrestees for violent crimes, but pays at least some lip service to increased patrol and police resources.
It falls far short of the real solution – not ignoring lesser crimes and committing to vigorous detainment and prosecution of suspects of major crimes. This runs against the grain of Williams’ philosophy that society more than individual agency, particularly when it concerns anybody nonwhite, has led to the historic pattern where nonwhites commit, in some categories overwhelmingly so, crime in far higher proportions to their presence in the population.
Only upon jettisoning the affectation of progressive ideology to come to grips with the demands of the real world can New Orleans reverse this unhealthy trend of emboldened criminals flouting the law. The “system” isn’t the problem that needs correction through progressivism, it’s having progressivism itself as the guiding worldview.
And maybe Orleanians finally will wake up and tell their woke councilors, Democrat Mayor LaToya Cantrell and DA – all of whom they idiotically put in office a year-and-half ago – to start doing their jobs and protect the people, not their ideological fantasies.