NEW ORLEANS — With an average of more than one murder a day so far in December, New Orleans has already surpassed its grim homicide total for 2020 with more than two weeks to go.
With two murders over the weekend and another Monday morning, the 2021 murder tally stands at 204, topping last year’s mark of 201 and threatening the post-Hurricane Katrina mark of 208 killings in 2007.
The murder pace is closely matching a two-year surge in most other categories of violent crime, especially shootings and carjackings.
Statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a non-profit watchdog group, show that since 2019, murder is up more than 80 percent, shootings are up about 100 percent and carjackings are up more than 180 percent.
“This a violent crime surge that this city hasn't experienced since we were the murder capital of the United States,” MCC President Rafael Goyeneche said.
The city’s all-time homicide mark of 324 murders was set in 1994, sparking a concerted effort to beef up the New Orleans Police Department. After Katrina and the city’s loss in population, the city hasn’t approached those staggering numbers, but the city remains on pace to eclipse the 2007 post-storm record.
Longtime anti-crime activist Al Mims Jr., who began a citywide campaign to curb after losing his father and brother to murder decades ago, said he is heartbroken to see the city return to the record levels of bloodshed that the city suffered in the mid-1990s.
“It's too many,” Mims said. “I cry. I'm sad. I go to the funerals. And I don't think people understand what I'm talking about.”
Mims said fear among citizens and a reluctance to cooperate with police have contributed to the problem, leaving NOPD’s homicide clearance rate at under 50 percent, below the national average.
“We’ve got too many people dying because nobody wants to get involved. Until it happens to you,” Mims said. “If you see something, say something….We can do better. We've got to do better. We must.”