A Love Letter to New Orleans: We Want You Back

New Orleans. My funky, cultured, musical, beautifully, dirty little city. Oh, how I love you so. However, lately, I have been feeling as if we need to take a break. Can I avoid you? No. My office is on Poydras. Can I hate you? No. You are like my first real love that stole my heart. But right now. Right now, do I like you? I do not. And I never thought that would be something I say.

I write this in response to a fellow local New Orleans momma that found herself as a victim of a horrific carjacking. Going about her business, just pumping gas at Costco on a Wednesday afternoon. Stories of what happened quickly bubbled up on social media from the witnesses to the heroes that helped her. I can’t imagine her terror in those moments. Thinking about her precious babies and her husband, her trust in humanity being violated. No one deserves to feel such pain, and I will keep her in my prayers for a long time. I hope that their family can find peace after being the victims of such a terrible crime.

When did our city come to this? I have lived here for 25 years now. I missed the high crime of the ’90s that I have heard so much about. I remember the crime after Katrina in my 20s and people feeling alarmed. But I have never, ever felt what I feel lately.

I am a true lover of New Orleans. I still remember the day we drove in and saw the Tchoupitoulas exit. I was enamored with the city, I had visited my grandparents as a kid but only dreamt of living in the place that was home to Mardi Gras. From 1998 to now, I still feel that same excitement in my heart. I was a bartender in the city from 2002 to 2010, it was my playground. I have always LOVED New Orleans.

How have we become a place that has 7+ carjackings a day? How are we a city that allows entire camps of homeless people to live below our interstates? How are we allowing 120 criminals out of jail because our justice system didn’t act fast enough? How are we sitting by as videos of people opening automatic gunfire in the middle of the street at 3 pm are shared on the local news? I don’t want to talk about the politics of it all, but where is the morality? Where has it all gone wrong? When did my love slowly start to turn into resentment? When did you become a place I no longer feel safe?

I hate to say it: I don’t feel comfortable bringing my kids to certain places anymore.

And New Orleans, I want my kids to love you. I want them to see you for how amazing you are. I want them to hear your soul, experience your art, taste your food, and embrace the uniqueness that we are blessed to live amongst. I want to walk them through your streets and let them absorb your energy.

I don’t want to be so paranoid when I go to the aquarium that I look over my shoulder the whole time. I don’t want to have to park two blocks off Magazine and wonder if my car will be okay. I don’t want to have to consider if my kids will be safe when they come to watch me ride in a parade.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

We’re the city of love. Of acceptance. We’re a melting pot of cultures and you can always find a neighbor when you need one. We’re a warm hug on a cold day & a generator during a hurricane. New Orleans, what is happening to you?

We as a city – all of us – need to stand together against the influx of crime. No one is exempt from the pain; it is touching families of all walks of life in our area. I hate waking up to more bad news, and I know you do too. For all of our families’ sake, for our city’s sake, what can we do?

New Orleans, I love you. How can we get back to the way we used to be?

Dana Wattigney
Moving from Nebraska in middle school, Dana considers herself a New Orleanian 25 years later. She now lives in Belle Chasse with her husband Ryan, 12-year-old Mila, and 8-year-old Rex. As the Executive Director of the YMCA in her community, she is very involved in all aspects of family life. You can find her on the weekend doing DIY projects, cheering on LSU or the Saints, and spending time with her family. A lover of all revelry, there is no festival, concert, or event that she won't go to! Catch her with the Krewe of Cleopatra each Mardi Gras. She gets out of town with her kids as much as possible, they enjoy the outdoors, especially the mountains & the beach. Affectionately known as "Dana Dolittle" to her friends, you can expect her to have a random animal she is trying to help at any given time. Dana loves to write & says there are no topics off limits.


  1. Born and raised and raised my own. 504 lifer. Same neighborhood. I’m 53 and for the first time in my life I’m thinking of moving and getting a conceal carry license. So, so heartbroken.

  2. The city of my youth no longer exists! It had been taken over by crime, dirt, drugs,
    And politicians who have forgotten how to care.

    The city had undergone a transformation from a working class city with middle class values to a city held hostage by a culture of a non working, no value for human life, steal what you want population. The sad problem is, this isn’t a political or police problem, it is a culture problem. A problem that can’t be fixed with new judges or more money or basketball courts. It’s a result of the breakdown of the nuclear family system and a huge lack of respect for any authority. How can the lack of these fundamental HUMAN values be instilled in the young people again? I have no idea. Prayers may be the only answer!

  3. The city is loved by those who don’t experience the hell of despair and poverty, lack of opportunities and are free of the many social problems that are experienced in these neighborhoods. Try being a rideshare driver as I was until Covid and you’ll understand more what drives crime in this city when you drop off riders to areas in the east or westbank where no one should live. Blocks and blocks away of badly made apartments and no services for miles, lack of public transportationI could go on. The issues are exacerbated by rising rents, inflation, gentrification and a lack of investment in poor communities of color. Returning to some pre-mainly white victim crime spree is not a return to a life without fear for many people in this city. They live with it every day.

  4. I lived in NOLA as an adult for 32 years. I poured my heart and soul into helping the city return from Katrina. I am 10th generation Louisianian. When I found myself seriously considering buying a firearm, I left For Biloxi. I miss NOLA every day but as someone bordering on elderly, I just can’t do it.

  5. Ask the Big 3..mayor, chief and da.. these folks are culpable… especially the DA..
    Lessons should have been learned from other cities whom let criminals run wild.
    We need the National Guard and State Police who have authority to do their job!

  6. Y’all are just a bad group of people obsessed with the Falcons. Get out from your computers, making memes and get to work. The Saints will always suck. Focus on something else. Maybe become Braves fans.

  7. Vote conservative! The liberal perspective allows crime to flourish because their perspective is perpetrators are victims of society instead of simply being bad people ( definition-good or wounded people that have gotten off track). We need to be tough on crime with a redemptive heart. I to love New Orleans, but have written it off due to its problems. In closing, the road to redemption for the city is for the mayor to pay her taxes and do time for tax evasion. If I did what she did I would be In Jail!

  8. The city is being managed by people who keep their eyes closed to the problems. Unfortunately, it will never change until the fabric of the residents and their political representatives change. Those who are screaming about being terrified of bringing their families into the city are living in St Tammany, Jefferson, Plaquemines etc. If people want to see a change, they need to be the change. Move into the city, attend public hearings, put kids in the schools, attend community events, volunteer, run for office. Try to help with making a change. The days of “going into the city” with your family just for a special event, and expecting safety aren’t going to cut it anymore. We, as residents in this metro area need to invest into making the change, because we can’t rely on those managing the city right now.

  9. What a maudlin piece of crap! New Orleans has always been a pirate ship that docked on the Mississippi River and never left. It has been the home of all types of criminals, from slave merchants, to faux royalty lynch mobs,to corrupt politicians who have raped the soul of the city, to unabated gangs which roam nearly every neighborhoods at will. It is this type of inebriated myopic bullshit which has created the zeitgeist of perdition which is New Orleans. Forget the gingerbread, the debutante balls, the bullshit festival which enrich the few, and
    focus on the victims of crimes, who met their fate because of failed social institutions and schools which teach the metric system in kilograms and millimeters.
    Some people live in a fantasy world, oblivious of reality. It is that insouciance which invites a city to crumble, instead of building one which embraces real progress. New Orleans is a failed adventure in municipal governance and the author understands that, since she lives in Belle Chase.

    If you pretend the problem doesn’t exist, does it go away? Perhaps with fairy dust, while unicorns drag pink hearses through discordant jazz funerals.


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