Gov. Edwards won’t send National Guard to New Orleans; comments on upcoming special session

A federal court has ordered state lawmakers to redraw congressional maps
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 7:14 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards addressed a packed room of political figures and business leaders on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish and afterward fielded questions from reporters about the special session starting this week and gun violence in New Orleans.

Edwards said he has had conversations with New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell about gun violence.

“Every time we talk about someone being carjacked or someone being the victim of a violent crime, those aren’t just numbers, those are people and we all know that, so yes, we’ve had conversations and we’re offering assistance as we can. It’s a difficult time because workforce shortages that you’re seeing are in all areas, including law enforcement. I know for example that we are about 300 troopers short in the State Police,” said Edwards.

And Edwards said in response to a question that he would not send the Louisiana Nation Guard to the city, in response to the violence.

“We’re not going to do that. The National Guardsmen are soldiers, they’re not law enforcement officers, you have rules of engagement issues and it’s just, that is not an answer,” said Edwards.

He added that he has not been formally asked to do so.

Edwards opened his remarks to the luncheon audience by talking about the special session starting on Wednesday. Edwards had to quickly call it after a federal judge threw out new congressional maps approved by the Republican-controlled Louisiana legislature.

Edwards, a Democrat, early opposed what state lawmakers passed.

“I had tried to invalidate them with a veto. The legislature overrode my veto and therefore it ended up in front of the court,” said Edwards. “So, the court said the maps violated the Voting Rights Act and gave the legislature until June 20th to come up with a new map that would be consistent with the Voting Rights Act.”

Sen. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, believes the majority of the legislature will not budge on the way the maps are drawn.

“I don’t see the maps coming out differently from the legislature than they already are and if those maps don’t change then the court’s going to draw them,” said Connick.

Edwards was asked about that following his speech.

“That would be unfortunate. I obviously acknowledge that that’s a real possibility. I hope that’s not what will happen,” said Edwards.

Connick believes it will come down to the courts.

“I think you’re going to have two competing maps. One the legislature is going to propose and one the court’s going to draw and ultimately the 5th Circuit is going to decide or the Supreme Court,” said Connick.

Edwards hopes Louisiana legislators use the opportunity to redraw the maps in line with what he says the Voting Rights Act requires.

“I would just make another appeal that we come into the session, we do the right thing. It is about simple fairness and quite frankly simple math. One-third of our state is African American. We have six congressional districts. If you can draw two minority-majority districts to satisfy all of the redistricting principles then that’s what you ought to do and in fact, that’s what the Voting Rights Act requires us to do,” said Edwards.

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