The NOLA Coalition vowed to raise and distribute $15 million to spend on the twin crime abatement missions of boosting the NOPD and spend on youth programs
NEW ORLEANS — Hoping to add some urgency to the city’s uphill battle against crime, a group of 177 New Orleans non-profit organizations announced a three-year plan Tuesday to tackle the problem outside of the usual government agencies.
The NOLA Coalition, as they call themselves, vowed to raise and distribute $15 million over the three-year period to spend on the twin crime abatement missions of boosting the NOPD and spending on youth programs.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, prominent members of the wide-ranging coalition took some not-so-subtle jabs at the city’s elected leaders for moving too slowly to address what they called a “crisis.”
So far in 2022, New Orleans has logged more than 150 murders, the highest per capita rate in the country and blowing past the 121 murders recorded just three years ago in 2019. Carjackings and armed robberies have also increased dramatically.
“I daily see news reports that address carjackings, car break-ins and shootings. At one time, these crimes would only happen at night. But now, it’s day and night,” said Dawn Hebert, CEO of East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission..
Michael Hecht of GNO, Inc., did not unveil precise plans on how the money would be raised or spent, but he said it is imperative to address both policing and enhancing programs for youngsters.
“This is not an either-or situation,” Hecht said. “We need to support public safety and our kids at the same time.”
At the same time that the community leaders were announcing their plan, Hishaunda Riles was unable to attend because she was dealing with a more immediate personal crisis at the criminal courthouse.
Riles’ 22-year-old son Hasaan was murdered two years ago in a killing that remains unsolved. Her 18-year-old daughter Ty’Shauna was killed in May and her boyfriend accused of manslaughter in the killing, was arraigned Tuesday.
“Three years is kind of long. Right now, in this crisis, they need help. They need help now,” Riles said. “I’m just numb. Hurt. To have to go through this twice within two years.”
Riles said she would like to mentor other families to keep other mothers from experiencing the pain her family has endured.
Retired criminal court judge Calvin Johnson, a coalition leader, compared the current crime surge to a crisis like Hurricane Katrina, with both immediate concerns and a need for longer-term solutions.
“We are absolutely in a crisis. And we’re in a crisis at the same level as Katrina point, when we were drowning,” Johnson said. “If we do this, we will change this city dramatically. But it’s not a quick fix. This is not a quick fix.”
The coalition announced that it had already raised and distributed half a million dollars to dozens of summer youth programs.
To accelerate progress, the group also vowed to push the city’s elected leaders to move more quickly on their own plans, including police recruitment, arming law enforcement with crime-fighting technology to reducing blight and increasing recreational opportunities for youngsters.
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