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Letter To Mayor On Central City Shootings
Mayor Ray Nagin
1300 Perdido, Room 2E04
New Orleans, LA 70112
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Natacha Maria Hutchinson. I live at 1918 Louisiana Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115 directly across the street from 1901 Louisiana, the sight of the gangland style shooting on July 26, 2003. I will be 28 years old on August 4, 2003. I am a first year attorney, who recently graduated from Tulane Law School in May of 2002 and passed the Louisiana bar in the summer of 2002. I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1997 with degrees in Psychology and Industrial Management. I am a member of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, the New Orleans Bar Association, the Covington Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. I belong to Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where I sing in the choir. I read to children during the school year at Crocker Elementary School. I am a law-abiding citizen who pays taxes and votes. I have one brother, one sister and three nieces who I love very much. I state all this so that you can recognize that I am a real person.
I recently purchased my home in January 2003. At 1918 Louisiana Ave., I live next to a teacher who owns his home and a retired coach, who also owns his home. We all pay taxes to the city, state, and federal governments. Why is it then that we cannot feel safe in our homes? This was not a crime in the middle of the night in some dark alley. It was a crime at 8 p.m. in an extremely well-lit and heavily traveled area of the city, three blocks from St. Charles Ave. and one block from the U.S. Post Office. Does this mean that we are not safe anywhere in the city?
I am African American and my new roommate is white and I have spent a great deal of time explaining to her why it is perfectly safe to live where we live. Even though the majority of the people who live on that side of St. Charles are African American, the area is traveled by people from every racial background and every walk of life. People of all races go to that post office and use that gas station. Now what can I say since there is a bullet hole in my dining room and a bullet lodged in my bedroom wall?
Violence has gotten out of control in this city. Something has to be done. So much time, energy and money has been focused on the war on terrorism and not enough on the war on our streets. What is being done to insure that the people who live in this city are protected? Where is the outrage? Had this happened on the other side of St. Charles, would the response be different? What is being done about the underlying problems: a poor economy; a poor educational system; an undereducated population; a criminal justice system that makes young Black men, who have served their time and paid their debt to society, feel hopeless and helpless; a social system that makes the same young men feel they won’t have and don’t deserve a chance at gainful employment; a criminal justice system that cannot protect its witnesses? Should I now fear for my life because I could be a potential witness? Should I fear for my life by virtue of living in this city? This state? What should I do about living in a state where my cousin gets robbed at gunpoint in a Metairie convenience store by a college student? What has this area come to? Why should not all of the educated people leave this city? This state? Why should any businesses come here - when on a busy street, on a Saturday night, gunshots ring across a major throughway?
Everyone in this city has been touched by violence. It has become so commonplace that no one is outraged by it anymore, not because it can’t happen to them, but because we have just become too desensitized to it. Our leaders are desensitized. Well now we need our leaders to lead and reassure us. We need our leader to do something about it and not just give lip service. There are community groups who want to help, but who feel helpless. Citizens want to help and do their part, but they are afraid. I am afraid.
I am planning a birthday party for next Saturday. Had the shoot out occurred then, my friends could have been standing on my porch or making the u-turn onto my block or parking across the street in front of the car wash. Any number of people could have been hurt and only God could have prevented that once the shooting began.
This is not an issue of race. If these particular criminals had no problem shooting on Louisiana Ave. at the carwash, they will likely have no problem shooting at the Winne Dixie on Tchoupitoulas or City Park or any public place a potential rival may be found passing through.
Please tell me what I should do and how you are going to help.
Natacha M. Hutchinson, Esq.
Jul 29 2003