Editor’s note: The author of this letter was on vacation last month when she reported that she was a witness to a rape in the French Quarter. The Lens is running the letter under a pseudonym at the request of the author, who said she fears retribution if she publicly identifies herself. The Lens has verified that she is the person who reported witnessing a rape at about 11:20 p.m. on July 26 in the 600 block of Royal Street. And Lens opinion editor Amy Stelly has confirmed that the author sent the below email to Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office.
Dear Mayor Cantrell,
On August 5, I sent you an email regarding a rape in the French Quarter. Your failure to respond confirms that you’ve chosen to ignore the situation. This is what my email said:
I recently posted on Twitter about a highly unfortunate aggravated rape case during which the police response was absolutely disgusting. After hearing your August 4 press conference, I am positive that you’ve seen the post and, along with NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson, willfully chosen to ignore my concerns.
Your public admonishment (timestamp 0:48 to 2:20) of concerned citizens was disheartening. You said, “In our own city, we’re feeding into the national narrative around policing, around those who dedicate their lives, make the tough sacrifices to serve, were being spoken about in a negative light that made them and some rethink the profession.”
It felt like you were talking about me. Wouldn’t it have been easier to come to me and ask what I saw, and what my concerns were before you went to the press and used that platform to respond? I feel like you were essentially calling me a liar. Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of New Orleans to correct the police’s actions to protect your citizens?
I have no agenda that’s in line with the national narrative that you referred to. I simply believe that police should not deny citizens aid, and that police and elected officials, such as yourself, should remain transparent in their actions.
You were given the opportunity, after reading my post, to rise above and lead rather than defend. You had the opportunity to correct rather than cover up. Unfortunately, you’ve chosen the low road, a road you choose time and time again. I’m disappointed in you, Mayor Cantrell, and it’s highly unlikely that I will ever visit New Orleans again.
Kaila Jane Woodsen
Update: The Twitter thread and a news article linked in this letter contain accounts of the witness attempting to flag down a police officer while on the phone with a 911 operator. On Thursday, Aug. 11, officials confirmed that the law enforcement official in question was not a New Orleans Police Department officer but a deputy Second City Court constable.
The Opinion section is a community forum. Views expressed are not necessarily those of The Lens or its staff. To propose an idea for a column, contact Opinion Editor Amy Stelly at email@example.com.