The crime rate in New Orleans has continued to rise since the beginning of 2007, with 10 murders occurring in the last two weeks. NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports on the latest increase in violence and crime throughout the Big Easy.
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BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour Correspondent:
Almost every day since the year began, someone has been murdered in New Orleans. Last year, with less than half its original population returned, the city had one of the highest murder rates in the country.
But it was the recent deaths of two artists in a quiet, folksy neighborhood called Marigny-Bywater that drew both local and national attention. Baty Landis knew both victims.
BATY LANDIS, Owner, Sound Cafe:
Dinerral Shavers and Helen Hill were working actively to try to heal the city. And it just seems like the cruelest possible target for a murder, someone who has a family — they both had young children — who has made the decision to stay in New Orleans.
BETTY ANN BOWSER:
Shavers was shot in the head while driving a car. He was a popular local high school band leader and a musician.
Thirty-five-year-old moviemaker Hill was shot and killed in her living room. Nearby, her husband, Dr. Paul Gailiunas, was hit with three bullets, as he held the couple's 2-year-old baby in his arms.
Landis and her friends were horrified.
It was a direct assault on everything that I value in this neighborhood, in that, not only were two of my neighbors killed, but two really valuable artists.
And if we can't keep — if we can't sustain the culture of New Orleans, everyone pretty much agrees that the city is not sustainable. If we can't keep that healthy, then nothing else really matters, because that's what defines New Orleans.