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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

New Orleans violent crime spiking as unemployment, health worries stoke unease

If 2020 couldn’t get any worse, murders in New Orleans are rising – quickly.

NEW ORLEANS — July was a particularly violent month in New Orleans and it’s shaping up to be an especially violent year.

If 2020 couldn’t get any worse, murders in New Orleans are rising – quickly.

In 2019 the city of New Orleans had a total of 119 murders. Through July in 2020, there have been 105.

Criminologist Peter Scharf, who tracks the numbers for LSU Health says a deadly combination has destabilized people’s lives with high unemployment, economic woes and health concerns and unstable living situations.

“What we do know is destabilization causes murder and you have economic losses and all of those things cause irrational fear,” he said.

Scharf said New Orleans could pass its 2019 murder totals before August is done. His tracking shows the city on pace for 170 killings this year.

But the numbers are not the worst the city has ever seen – not even close. We are well below the historic high number of killings in the 90s and there were higher rates in 2011 and 2016, but Scharf says with looming evictions and relief money from the government possibly running out, things could be bleak for the remainder of the year.

“In the absence of any subsidies and when the eviction process starts, how will it affect the murder total?” he asked. “People are freaked out now. They are going to be unbelievably freaked out when that starts taking place.”

Police are searching for help in solving recent killings. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 822-1111.