New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell sent the entire city into a tizzy on Thursday when she told a community meeting that because of the severe shortage of police officers, the city may have to cancel Mardi Gras.

“If you don’t have adequate police, it could mean there will be no Mardi Gras. That’s a fact,” Cantrell said at the meeting. She tried to explain the comments but only made the situation worse.

“Look, you know I don’t want to cancel no Mardi Gras, no not at all,” Cantrell added soon after. “But when it comes to jeopardizing the safety of the men and women who make that ultimate sacrifice and kiss their families when they leave every day and hope to come home at night or in the morning, they are the priority.”

The comments flew across New Orleans. Residents lit up social media. Texts were exchanged. By the next morning, the question of whether parades would be canceled buzzed through offices and across lunch tables.

The statement suggested Cantrell was considering a repeat of the drastic step taken in 2021, when she canceled all parades and other public Carnival events to slow the spread of COVID-19. But this time, it was due to the struggles of the NOPD in recruiting and retaining officers.

On Friday afternoon, Cantrell was forced to issue a statement that began, “We ARE NOT canceling Mardi Gras.”

The shortage of officers in the city is real, and it’s growing. One of the more corrupt and blatantly racist police departments in the country, NOPD has had massive problems in recruitment and retention since the Department of Justice issued a consent decree a decade ago. Last week, a federal judge said it was more important that the city follow the dictates of the consent decree, claiming the city had failed to follow a “holistic plan to deal with the current emergency.”

To her credit, Cantrell had complained that the consent decree was endangering officers. But that apparently should take a backseat to the NOPD’s ability to “sustain its achievements.”

At any rate, it’s leading to good officers retiring and fewer officers being recruited.

Cantrell’s statement affirming that Carnival would proceed didn’t explain what she had meant the night before. But it provided some details on the NOPD manpower shortage and the city’s efforts to boost its ranks, including improving facilities, adding new technologies and other steps.

“The City of New Orleans remains committed to delivering critical resources needed for our public safety agencies, while also continuing to safely host large-scale events that allow us to celebrate our beloved culture,” Cantrell said.

It wasn’t the first time during the week that Cantrell put her foot in it. At another community event on Monday, Cantrell said that retail giant Target had purchased a piece of land and was going to build a store in the retail-starved area. The next day, a Target spokesperson said no deal had been made.


Mardi Gras has always been a high-crime event with people drinking, fighting, and robbing, while pickpockets and prostitutes cleaned up. Add gang shootings to the mix, and, for a lot of people, the events have become just too dangerous for families.

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