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Crime Increases in New Orleans as the City Recovers from Hurricane Katrina

The National Guard has been called to New Orleans to contain a surging crime problem as the city fights to rebuild its justice system.

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  • BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour Correspondent:

    In the days after Katrina, people got used to seeing the National Guard everywhere.

  • NATIONAL GUARDSMAN:

    If you all see anything, just give us a call. Or stop us, whatever.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    But now the Guard is back, 300 strong, in an unprecedented effort to help the city's police department fight a crime wave that has hit New Orleans at a time when less than half of its residents have returned.

    Over the weekend, Guard units fanned out deep into neighborhoods where there are few residents, but many reports of looting, at least 1,500 in recent months. Especially hard hit have been contractors like Brad Fuselier.

  • BRAD FUSELIER, Contractor:

    When we first started out here, five months ago, six months ago, you didn't see nobody. And, I mean, all the contractors was telling me about them stealing out the back of your trucks while they was working in the houses.

  • COL. STEVE DABADIE, Louisiana National Guard:

    And the force will be the looking at the cop stats every week…

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Colonel Steve Dabadie commands the Guard force in New Orleans.

  • COL. STEVE DABADIE:

    We want the criminal element to know that we are here, that we're present, and if they think about stealing or looting, in all likelihood, they're going to get caught, they're going to get arrested, and they're going to go to jail.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    But it wasn't just looting that led city fathers to ask Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to call out the Guard; it was what happened in this neighborhood, called Central City, on June 17th.

  • WDSU-TV CORRESPONDENT:

    A deadly morning here in the city of New Orleans, as five teenagers are gunned down in what police are calling a gangland-style shooting.

  • TRYMAINE LEE, TIMES-PICAYUNE:

    … been the scene of a lot of serious shootings. You've had some serious…

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Times-Picayune crime reporter Trymaine Lee said residents were horrified by the especially brutal killings.

  • TRYMAINE LEE:

    It was just such a bloody episode, it was the bloodiest episode we've had in New Orleans in over 10 years. And five at one time, I think, was pretty shocking.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Mayor Ray Nagin and City Council President Oliver Thomas immediately called a news conference.

  • OLIVER THOMAS, New Orleans City Council President:

    If we don't have wind knocking us down, we have people, murderers shooting us down, and that is unacceptable.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Governor Blanco was quick to respond with Guards and 60 state troopers.

    GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), Louisiana: Let me be clear: Louisiana will not tolerate thugs, gangsters and criminals destroying the gains that are under way.

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