By Jessica Williams | Staff Writer | January 28, 2021

The neighborhoods east of the Industrial Canal — commonly referred to as New Orleans East — too often get a bad rap in the media, said City Council members on Thursday, and they argued that reports on crimes there should be more specific to individual neighborhoods.

The council unanimously passed a resolution on the matter, arguing that generalizing the area as “New Orleans East,” a section of New Orleans with a quarter of the city’s population and two-thirds of its land mass, is unfair to the residents who live there.

Instead, reports should single out specific neighborhoods in the East where crimes occur, council members said. The media should apply the same practice to all individual neighborhoods in the city.

“We as residents of New Orleans East are calling on the media to change this discriminatory practice,” said Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen, who represents the East. “Rather than using blanket terms, events should be referred to using specific neighborhoods, streets and intersections.”

The resolution comes after the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a nonprofit criminal justice watchdog group, in a January report highlighted that a quarter of the 753 homicides that have occurred since 2016 have happened in the 7th District, the boundaries of which generally overlap with New Orleans East.

The report, which cited police figures, called the 7th District “the deadliest district in Orleans Parish.”

Neighborhoods in New Orleans East include Pines Village, Plum Orchard, Little Woods, West Lake Forest, Read Boulevard West, Read Boulevard East, Vivant/Venetian Isles, Village de L’Est, and Lake Catherine, the latter of which is mostly taken up by the Bayou Sauvage National Refuge. But like other parts of New Orleans, there are regular disagreements on where specific neighborhood boundaries are located.

In 1960, planners began the process of draining miles of swampland east of the Industrial Canal for a residential development they called New Orleans East. The vast area, then described as a suburb within a city, drew employees of surrounding commercial plants and other upwardly mobile families.

The moniker stuck, and over time grew to encompass the entire 133-square mile area.

Over the years, some residents have complained that the East’s safer and more affluent neighborhoods are unfairly lumped in with other more crime-heavy areas when media outlets give descriptions about crimes in that part of the city.

Grouping all the East’s neighborhoods together creates “the false impression that the entire community is unsafe,” which dissuades economic development and cuts civic pride, the resolution states.