Cedric Richmond, back from the White House, has thoughts on New Orleans’ crime and education

Former Congressman says he’s not running again for public office
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 9:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Former White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond is back in New Orleans full time, and says he is deeply concerned about the soaring crime rate in his hometown.

Richmond told Fox 8 on Tuesday (Sept. 27) that he has spoken with Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams and other stakeholders about the issue. Richmond said it will take everyone working together to improve public safety in the city.

Richmond, 49, represented New Orleans, portions of Jefferson Parish, and parts of Baton Rouge in Congress before ascending to the White House job. He left President Biden’s administration earlier this year to work as a senior adviser with the Democratic National Committee.

“I think it was sometime in May, but there was no off day,” Richmond said. “I left the White House on a Wednesday and I started at the DNC on Wednesday afternoon, still supporting the president’s initiatives because the mid-terms are so important.”

He said he never lived full-time in Washington D.C.

“The whole time I was in Congress, I commuted to work,” Richmond said. “But when I got to the White House -- even with a five-day work week, every week -- I still commuted. I left on Friday nights and I went back at 5 o’clock in the morning on Mondays.”

His current job allows him to work from New Orleans with some travel mixed in. And Richmond said the city’s crime problem factored into his decision to leave the White House.

“New Orleans is where I grew up,” Richmond said. “It’s where I love, it’s where I intend to stay. But it was a concern and I’d be lying if I told you that crime didn’t pay a big part in it. With me being gone the entire week with a wife and child, it was something that I worried about.”

Richmond said people close to him have been victims of violent crime in New Orleans.

“I’ve lost too many to gun violence, and it played a large decision in a lot of things that I’ve done,” he said. “From running for elective office in the first place, running for Congress. Deciding to go into the White House, to make sure that we were focusing on urban communities and communities that have been left behind. And it’s going to be consistent with what I continue to do.”

Richmond said he wants crime victims to be the focus of media attention.

“When we talk about crime in New Orleans, there are a couple of things that caught my attention and frustrates me,” he said. “One of which is when we talk about it only in the sense of how it affects tourism or the dollar value or the city’s reputation or the fact that Starbucks is leaving.

“I really don’t care that Starbucks is leaving. I care that too many parents are burying their children or too many children are burying their parents because of violence.”

Richmond said he is talking to DA Williams and others.

“I am having conversations with stakeholders,” he said. “I’ve been in regular contact with the DA, which, I think unfortunately, all of this lands at his doorstep.”

Richmond said his former boss ensured that communities have money to attack societal issues that influence crime.

“That’s partly why President Biden did the most aggressive and comprehensive safety program in this country,” Richmond said. “It has money for mental health. It has money for after-school programs. It has money for summer jobs. It has money for community violence intervention, intervenors, which is people who have been caught up in the system before, coming out and talking to those people who are likely to get caught up in the system.”

He said the funds also will help people previously incarcerated.

“There’s money that could be used for re-entry, and helping formerly incarcerated people transition to housing, to jobs, to job training,” he said. “All of those things that would fix it in a comprehensive manner.”

Richmond also said he is not a fan of the city’s public school landscape post-Hurricane Katrina.

“I believe to my heart that a kid should be able to just walk across the street, knock on the door of a public school that’s across from his house, and be able to go there,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s a magnet school, or what algorithm that One App says. He should be able to do that, because that means it’s a community school.”

“If it’s an underperforming school, we should be working our tails off to make it a better-performing school. But then that kid has that alternative to go to another school. We’re not sentencing him to a failing school.”

Richmond also said minority-owned businesses are critical to the community and deserve more help.

“And make sure that the economic pie is split, because those businesses absolutely invest in the community,” he said. “Those are the types of conversations that should be happening, but they’re not. The good thing for me is, I’m not running for office again. There’s a freedom of not running for office.”

Richmond has one idea, in particular, he would love to see happen.

“If I just had to define my role and my ultimate goal, I would start an all-male residential school where we’d take young men out of their community and we’d push them and we hug them and we kick them and we make sure that they know that the world is theirs if they apply themselves,” he said.

“I think it’s important for some kids to come out of their neighborhood. I think it’s a way that we can help. The school would not be for the kid with two parents who’s making straight As, that’s easy. This needs to be a school for those kids who have all the potential in the world, but may not be directing it the right way.”

Richmond said many New Orleans teens are suffering from trauma.

“Some kids ought to get the Nobel Peace Prize for just waking up and trying.”

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