NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a news conference on Wednesday to address recent decisions she made to travel to France and support a juvenile accused of carjackings in court.

The mayor traveled to France in July as part of a Sister City agreement with the French city of Antibes Juan-les-Pins. The trip is said to have cost tens of thousands of dollars, which included a first-class flight ticket for her and hotel rooms for herself and staff.

On Friday, WGNO acquired a report on the city staff’s travel list for the month of July. Read the full document below.

The mayor says she decided to travel because it allowed the opportunity to grow the economy, which she says still has not recovered from COVID-19.

“When you look at the mayor and the budget I have for travel that I have is pennies on a dollar to a $1.4 billion organization that I lead,” said Mayor Latoya Cantrell.

The mayor has faced backlash as her traveling to France happened amid a crime surge in the city.

She has also been scrutinized for appearing in juvenile court, supporting a 13-year-old carjacker at his sentencing. It’s a move that has garnered national attention.

Cantrell says she doesn’t regret her decision.

“This is a success story in my opinion because we were not only able to arrest but turn that kid around and put that kid on the right path,” said Cantrell.

She says that the juvenile has participated in court-ordered programs leading him on a better path. However, the mayor says she did not pick sides and was asked to support the juvenile in court by the family.

Cantrell says she also showed compassion to the victims by rubbing their shoulders and saying “God Bless You.”

“I definitely did not want to disrupt the proceedings of the courtroom. I did not want to leave without showing care, meaning I stopped and I did say, ‘God Bless you.’ That means something to me.”

Cantrell added this is not the first time she has supported a juvenile suspect in court.

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Full Document: City of New Orleans Staff Travel — July 2022