Shooting Victim Sends Message From Hospital Bed To Council Meeting

One of the victims shot during a second-line parade on Mother’s Day sent a message to the Criminal Justice Committee meeting of the New Orleans City Council Wednesday afternoon.

Deborah Cotton asked a friend to read the statement.

“What I am reading is a statement from Deb Cotton,” Linda Usdin told the committee members before she began reading the prepared remarks from a podium in the chamber’s audience section.

The statement came as the committee began reviewing the NOLA For Life program announced a year ago by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a comprehensive plan to fight violent crime in the city.  NOLA For Life includes a long list of ideas aimed at everything from jobs to gangs and midnight basketball.

Usdin told WGNO News that cotton has a long recovery ahead from her bullet wounds but she is able to speak.  In the prepared statement, Cotton also commented that her attackers should not be, “Thrown to the wolves.”

“They have been separated from us through so much trama.  Now where do we go?” Usdin read from Cotton’s prepared statement.

Some council members are also wondering what’s next, at least regarding the mayor’s crime fighting plan.  Stacy Head expressed her support for many of the NOLA For Life measures but also some concern about the need, effectiveness, and even funding of others.

“Get some answers on the real numbers as to what we’re spending the dollars on, who’s getting the money, and why,” Head told WGNO News.

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas was among the officials answering questions about the mayor’s plan.  Both the council and people associated with NOLA For Life plan to meet again with more specifics on funding and results.

Head told WGNO News that deciding success could be based on the amount of time program participants hold down a job or go without being arrested.

Serpas has his own way of judging the program’s success.

“God willing, these young men who have been killing each other for 30 years, generation after generation after generation, will see the opportunity for a path way out,” he told WGNO News after leaving the meeting.

In her statement, Cotton told the council that young people who are at risk of becoming violent crime offenders or victims need to be made aware of any NOLA For Life programs that are proving to be successful, but the criteria for success must be established as part of any plan.

“It is absolutely critical that the entire city know the criteria used for funding and measuring success,” Usdin read for Cotton’s statement.