National Guard Will Return to New Orleans

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Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco orders 100 National Guardsmen and 60 Louisiana state troopers to New Orleans, with more guardsmen to follow in the coming weeks. The city's mayor, Ray Nagin, asked for the help to prevent criminals from spoiling the city's rebuilding effort. Five teens in a sport utility vehicle were gunned down in the Central City neighborhood last weekend.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, has ordered the National Guard and Louisiana State Police to return to the streets of New Orleans. Mayor Ray Nagin requested that help after five teenagers in an SUV were gunned down over the weekend. NPR's Anne Hawke reports.

ANNE HAWKE reporting:

Governor Blanco ordered 100 National guardsmen and 60 Louisiana state troopers to New Orleans with another 200 guardsman to follow in the coming weeks. City councilwoman Stacey Head represents the district where the murders occurred last Saturday.

Councilwoman STACY HEAD (New Orleans): We have areas where there are no people. We need to secure those areas. You don't need as many police in an area if you have neighbors who are willing to make the call to the police officers. Instead, we need someone to secure those areas, which will be the National Guard, so that the police can do their job, which is patrol the populated areas of the city.

HAWKE: Last weekend's shootings were the deadliest in a decade, bringing the murder toll to 53, this year. This comes at a time when New Orleans' image is key with the city trying to restore economic vitality to its patchwork of recovering neighborhoods. Gov. Blanco has urged Mayor Nagin to impose a juvenile curfew, and residents who live near the intersection where the shootings occurred are all for that.

Shirlett Oza(ph) has lived her over 50 years. She heard the shootings last weekend.

Ms. SHIRLETT OZA (New Orleans Resident): We are just amazed that somebody actually got hit, because we are always hearing bullets, always hearing drive-bys. But you never hear that anybody got hit.

HAWKE: She says the city needs to engage teenagers to keep them out of trouble. And city councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell agrees.

Councilwoman CYNTHIA HEDGE-MORRELL (New Orleans): We have a serious problem in New Orleans, dealing with what to do with our kids this summer.

HAWKE: Hedge-Morrell worries about juvenile crime, with fewer summer programs, and parks now filled with FEMA trailers. She'd like the contractors who cleaned up New Orleans after the hurricane to come back and sponsor activities for teens to prevent crime from swelling with the summer's heat.

Anne Hawke, NPR News, New Orleans.

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