- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, acting at Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s request, yesterday said she would send National Guard troops and state police to patrol the streets of New Orleans after a bloody weekend in which six persons were killed.

“The senseless slaying of five teenagers this weekend is shocking,” Mrs. Blanco said. “Things like this should never happen, and I am going to do all I can to stop it.”

One hundred National Guardsmen with law-enforcement experience and 60 state police officers were to be sent to the city today. Up to 200 more troops would be deployed after that, said Denise Bottcher, the governor’s spokeswoman.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Nagin asked for as many as 300 National Guardsmen and 60 state police officers.

It was the first time the National Guard has been used for law enforcement in the United States since the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Nagin sought the troops after the fatal shootings of five teenagers in a sport utility vehicle. It was the city’s deadliest attack in at least 11 years. Police said the motive appeared to be drugs or revenge. Also, a man was stabbed to death Sunday night in an argument over beer.

“Today is a day when New Orleanians are stepping up. We’ve had enough,” Mr. Nagin said. “This is our line in the sand. We’re saying we’re not going any further.”

The mayor said troops should be posted in heavily flood-damaged neighborhoods to free police to concentrate on hot spots elsewhere.

Community leaders have raised fears that the violence could discourage people from moving back to New Orleans.

The National Guard had as many as 15,000 soldiers in the city in the weeks after Katrina. As many as 2,000 stayed until February, said Louisiana National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Pete Schneider.

Mrs. Blanco said plans were being crafted last week to step up anti-crime efforts, but the weekend slayings forced authorities to move faster. She said she was talking with New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley about his needs.

She urged the mayor to put a juvenile curfew into place. New Orleans has a curfew for juveniles, but Chief Riley said it is not being enforced because there is no place to put young offenders.

Mrs. Blanco said: “I have two warnings: First, to parents, keep your teenagers off the streets and out of trouble. Second, to judges, I am urging you to keep hardened criminals where they belong — in jail and off the streets. We must protect our citizens.”

The City Council backed Mr. Nagin’s request for troops and state police.

“If we don’t have wind knocking us down, we have shooters knocking us down, and that’s unacceptable,” said City Council President Oliver Thomas.

Crime has been creeping back into the city: 17 killings in the first three months of the year and 36 since the start of April.

Chief Riley assured residents that the Guard was “not coming in and taking over the city.”

“You will have to look for them to find them,” he said. “They will not be uptown, downtown or in the French Quarter. Our people will be there. This will allow us to have more of our people there.”

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