New Orleans mayor apologizes for 'chocolate' city remark

Mayor &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/16566_Neworleans.html' target=_blank>Ray Nagin apologized Tuesday for a speech in which he predicted that New Orleans would be a "chocolate" city once more and asserted that "God was mad at America."

"I said some things that were totally inappropriate. ... It shouldn't have happened," Nagin said, explaining he was caught up in the moment as he spoke to mostly black spectators, many of whom are fearful of being shut out of the city's rebuilding after &to=http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/21/97/385/16076_Katrina.html' target=_blank>Hurricane Katrina.

During Monday's speech for Martin Luther King Day, the holiday memorializing the slain civil rights leader, Nagin, who is black, said that the hurricanes that hit the nation in quick succession were a sign of God's anger toward the United States and toward black communities for their violence and infighting.

He also said New Orleans has to be a mostly black city again because "it's the way God wants it to be."

On Tuesday, Nagin said his comments about God were inappropriate and stemmed from a private conversation he had with a minister earlier. "I need to be more sensitive and more aware of what I'm saying," he said.

The mayor said his speech was really meant to convey that blacks were a vital part of New Orleans' history and culture and should be encouraged to return. "I want everyone to be welcome in New Orleans _ black, white, Asian, everybody," he said.

Nagin said the other main point he had hoped to make Monday was that when blacks do return, they must work to stamp out the crime and political infighting that have held them back.