Even though whatever Shreveport can do New Orleans can do better, Republican Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux’s first stiff challenge is to ensure that stays true.
Last weekend, during the Krewe of Gemini parade shootings occurred at two different locations along the parade route. The one along Shreveport-Barksdale Highway resulted in a non-life-threatening injury, but the one on Clyde Fant Parkway – and in the designated “family zone” no less – left an out-of-town teenager dead.
Not to be outdone, a day later in New Orleans during the Krewe of Bacchus parade a shooting there just yards from the route took one life and injured five. Of course, this has become old hat in the Crescent City, where in the last decade shootings on or steps from parade routes have occurred in 2015, 2018, and 2022.
Yet the tourists and curiosity-seekers, not to mention residents, continue to flock to the parades, drawn no doubt by the tawdry reputation and possibilities for extreme partying, so the element of danger may not detract that much from their plans. By contrast, Shreveport deliberately holds itself out as having a kinder, gentler Carnival reflected in the parades, and fun for the whole family.
This event, and another the week before where a Shreveport police officer shot fatally a suspect on the run under questionable circumstances, are the first real tests Arceneaux has faced as mayor. Fallout from the suspect’s shooting he can’t really mange since it’s now become a legal matter and it doesn’t really reflect on his governance since in essence the events surrounding that reach back into the Democrat former Mayor Adrian Perkins Administration over which he had no control.
But the reveler shooting directly relates to his governance. Arceneaux hasn’t faced any drama in his fewer than two months in office because, unlike Perkins who in the same time span managed to groove the city’s insurance business paying more for less to an insider and tried to bill the city for his inauguration expenses as well as fell into a spat with the City Council over garbage fees in a series of self-inflicted wounds.
Now Arceneaux has an issue that obviously demonstrated a threat to public safety compounded by the negative tourism impression. It can’t help that one media outlet reports a witness stating that the “family zone” featured fights and other rowdiness, even though the Shreveport Police Department had 120 officers up and down the parkway.
The New Orleans parade shooting may be the straw that breaks the back in Democrat Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s fight against a recall petition, potentially bridging the small gap in number of signatures needed. Not helping at all was her reaction to a Carnival float that may have satirized her (as several did scattered throughout several parades) that observers would concede was rude.
Yet even as Arceneaux has done nothing to deserve that revulsion among residents, the incident may provide ammunition for a recall attempt. A hundred miles to the east, Monroe independent Mayor Friday Ellis faces a recall petition as a thinly-disguised attack by a defeated black Democrat mayoral opponent of his on his being a white mayor of a majority-black city, as is Arceneaux. The least provocation could embolden bitter Shreveport political activists who don’t want to see a white Republican helming the city to try the same.
New Orleans faces tremendous crime difficulties, which is the main reason why the Cantrell recall is on the cusp of bringing off a referendum on her. How Arceneaux handles this incident, which only reminds Shreveport itself is experiencing a smaller-scale version of crime problems even if inherited from Perkins, will demonstrate his mettle as a leader.