Mardi Gras Brings Happiness, But It Also Raises Concerns About Violent Crime In New Orleans
The annual Carnival season in New Orleans reached its jubilant peak on Tuesday when thousands of revelers were anticipated to fill the French Quarter and line miles of parade routes as part of a Mardi Gras celebration this year tempered by concerns about violent crime and political unrest.
In some areas of the city, celebrations started early in the morning. To prepare people for Mardi Gras, The North Side Skull and Bones gang members spread out throughout the Treme neighborhood in skeleton costumes. Parade watchers had already staked out locations along the St. Charles Avenue parade route as the sun began to rise, peeking through gaps in the cloudy sky. Smells of barbecue filled the Central Business District.
A teenager was killed, and four people, including a 4-year-old girl, were injured when gunfire broke out during a parade on Sunday night. For unlawfully carrying a weapon, police quickly detained Mansour Mbodj, 21, and later upgraded the charge to second-degree murder.
The shooting was an isolated incident, officials emphasized on Monday.
On Monday night crowds, the violence didn’t seem to have much of an impact. As people waited for the evening’s parades, St. Charles Avenue, including where gunfire broke out, was once more lined with people dancing, sipping alcohol, and eating in a tailgate-style setting. Partygoers were everywhere, swarming the bars, eateries, and strip clubs in the French Quarter.
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Partygoers ignored crime at a celebration honoring the 2018 Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club king and queen in the afternoon riverside park.
Unhappiness with Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been exacerbated by crime. She was easily re-elected in 2021, but since then, has encountered various political issues, such as criticism over crime, concerns over the slow progress of significant street repairs, and inquiries regarding her personal use of a city-owned French Quarter apartment.
Wednesday’s deadline for a recall petition started last year is drawing near. Eileen Carter, one of the organizers, said she thinks there are enough signatures for the movement but will make a final push.
A social media video of Cantrell gesturing with her middle finger added to the political turmoil. Unknown factors may have motivated the gesture. The mayor’s press office did not answer a request for comment from The Associated Press. The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate received a statement that offered little additional information.
The Carnival season, also known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, officially starts on January 6, the 12th day after Christmas, and ends on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Mardi Gras is the culmination of this period.
The celebration is observed widely throughout Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, but New Orleans’ rowdy celebration is the most well-known in the country. The oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation is held in Mobile, Alabama.
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