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Katrina and the State
by Kate Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 11:29 AM
Kate_EP@hotmail.com

An autonomous take on the state's response to Katrina, including overviews of the Looting, Police, Jails, the Superdome and Evacuation from personal accounts, independent media and relevant news sources.

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 7th, 2005, exactly one week after the intense
flooding of New Orleans began. Like the toxic waters, the horrific
pictures of tragedy in New Orleans have begun to subside, being replaced
with ’reassuring’ images of police in control and displaced residents
finding temporary homes in sports arenas across the land. The eyes of
the nation are being managed away from what those of us from New Orleans
cannot ignore - the state of our city. That state is now a police
state. While I am safe, nourished and extremely fortunate in Arizona, I
am heartbroken and horrified by what is happening to my city and
neighbors.

Independent media and first-hand accounts are very important to my
understanding of world events. Every day, it seems more and more like
the state is attempting to evacuate the city and spread its residents
across the country for long enough to set up new lives. Many poor and
black folks were given free rides OUT of New Orleans after Katrina, but
how many will be given rides back in? How will their city be rebuilt?

Who will be awarded contracts to rebuild it? Who will do the awarding?
What kind of rebuilding will happen? What will be the character of
the neighborhoods after it is rebuilt? Who will populate this new
metropolis? These questions and many more need to be continually asked
of the government and of ourselves because New Orleans without the
people is a body without a soul. Dead.

I have compiled what I believe are some excellent personal stories,
personal emails and important information about the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. At the end, I offer a few suggestions about
local organizing that people where conscious people can contribute their
support. I welcome feedback at Kate_EP@hotmail.com

RESCUE FROM HOUSES

Far from being the ‘anarchy’ described by the mainstream media, New
Orleans’ biggest problems began when the city stopped auto and boating
traffic from coming into the city. There are many first-hand reports of
various relief organizations being refused entry into the city by bus
and boat. In fact, there are so many that they are being collected at a
website, http://amsam.org/2005/09/refused-help-why.html

The Red Cross’ official website explains “The state Homeland Security
Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American
Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our
presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come
into the city.”
http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html#4524 The Red
Cross is very calmly stating a horrific fact - Homeland Security would
rather starve and/or drown people than allow them to remain in their own
city.

Sensational reports of gunfire directed at rescue helicopters have been
a stock feature of media coverage. I don't intend to trivialize
violence, but come on - gunfire is a daily fact of life in any city -
and New Orleans is the murder capital of the nation. Due to this
gunfire, the state continued to try and disallow voluntary rescuers. If
you read the personal accounts of displaced residents, you will find at
least as many as were rescued from homes by volunteer efforts as by
state officials, probably more. Despite all of the state’s attempts,
regular, everyday folk persisted and illegally entered the city and
helped save thousands of people.

Carmaine Neville, local jazz and funk singer, described her experience
of evacuating her 9th Ward home, rescuing neighbors to a school in a
flatboat, finding food and feeding people, seeing many, many dead bodies,
boating people to the Quarter and eventually ’stealing’ a bus to drive
these folks out of town. In reference to the helicopters, she says, “A
lot of those young men lost their minds because the helicopters would
fly over us and they wouldn’t stop. We’d do SOS on the flashlight and
everything. We kept seeing ‘em, but they never would stop and help. It
came to a point. It really did come to a point where these young men
were so frustrated that they did start shooting. They weren’t trying to
hit the helicopters, but they figured they weren’t seeing. Maybe if
they hear the gunfire, they will stop then, but that didn’t help us.”
Video of this important first-hand account can be found at
http://www.wafb.com/ under “Charmaine Neville: New Orleans Evacuee.”

The Washington Post reported that “More than 50 countries and a number
of international organizations have offered aid and technical assistance.
In Washington, the State Department has not accepted the help, but said
it was analyzing needs. Some nations have made contributions directly
to the American Red Cross.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301433.html?sub=new


But even as of today, WEDNESDAY, SEPT 7th, there are still many posts
listing missing persons at
http://www.nola.com/weblogs/nola/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_nolaview/archives/2005_09.html
While the people of New Orleans and the rest of the country
desperately tried to organize and save New Orleans residents from
drowning, the government stepped in to force order on the situation.
Absolute control of the situation, an impossibility, was more important
to the state than the lives and misery of thousands of stranded New
Orleans residents.

TRANSPORTATION

The government could have evacuated thousands of people by rail or with
commercially chartered, municipal or school busses from within the
region. Major rail lines services the Port of New Orleans. I can hear
their screeching brakes from my home on any evening. None of these rail
lines were used to provide a safe exit for a population that relies on
mass transportation every day.

Charmaine Neville didn’t commandeer the only bus in New Orleans -
eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson "jumped aboard the bus as it sat
abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control.” stated Houston
NewsChannel 5, “The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove
to Houston.” The young man declared “"I dont care if I get blamed for
it, as long as I saved my people."
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1476351/posts

The Port of New Orleans is the centerpiece of the world‘s busiest port
complex - the lower Mississippi River. According to the Port of New
Orleans, it is the only deepwater port in the US served by six class one
railroads. “This gives port users direct and economical rail service
to or from anywhere in the country.” http://www.portno.com/facts.htmI
used to watch gigantic cruise ships and even larger barges full of train
cars float in and out of the port on an hourly basis. Satellite
photographs of the bridges of the Industrial Canal show them as up.
These bridges link the Lower 9th Ward, the area now twenty feet under
water, to the rest of the city and higher ground. With the future of
electricity and power uncertain, were these left up so that industry
could continue? Satellite photographs at located at
http://www.spaceimaging.com/gallery/hurricanes2005/katrina/default.htm
The Port of New Orleans announced today that it is set to resume
commercial operations to load and unload vessels as early as Friday.
http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=bondsNews&storyID=2005-09-07T204405Z_01_N07166197_RTRIDST_0_FOOD-KATRINA-PORT-UPDATE-2.XML

Not only did the government refuse to use all of these methods of
transport themselves, they refused those who independently tried to
evacuate the city. In their personal account, locals Larry Bradshaw and
Lorrie Beth Slonsky describe Grenta police shooting at them as they
tried to walk across the Crescent City Connection, from New Orleans to
Gretna, and later, at dusk, “a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of
his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, ‘Get off the
fucking freeway‘.”
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4683.php Superdome
evacuees were also prevented from crossing this same bridge, according
to Fox news, as described below.

THE SUPERDOME
The Superdome, the well-publicized location where remaining residents
could weather the storm in safety, failed on almost every count. First,
the ceiling broke open, sun streaming in, as Hurricane winds tore off
the roof. Then, sufficient water and food were also lacking.
Eventually, even toilets were unusable. According to Malik Rahim, “People
were told to go to the Superdome, but they have no food, no water there.
And before they could get in, people had to stand in line for 4-5 hours
in the rain because everybody was being searched one by one at the
entrance.” http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4209.php My
friends,
Jordan and Christina wrote a diary of their stay after the hurricane and
went to a refugee camp. “Everyone has a story to tell, of a home
destroyed, of swimming across town, of bodies and fights and gunshots
and looting and fear. The worst stories come from the Superdome.”
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4559.php

The arena was not a safe shelter, but a new city jail. People were
seduced with promises of food and water and shelter at the Superdome,
but when they
arrived, they were treated to the most miserable of conditions. Even
Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera went on FOX News, reporting live from
the Superdome, simply asking the government to allow the residents of
New Orleans OUT of the Superdome, to walk to water and food across the
bridge in Gretna. You can view the video here
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09/02.html#a4763

Local organizer Curtis Mohhamad described the Superdome situation on
Democracy Now: “the Mayor at one point goes into the Superdome and goes
into the Convention Center, and says, ‘Just go walk. Don't wait for help.
Just get on the highway and walk out of here.’ That actually happened.
And they stopped them. They set up checkpoints and would not let the
people leave the city for fear they were going to loot the dry towns,
white towns, Kenner, Metairie up the road. And they started locking
these shelters at night so people could not sneak away. And no help was
still coming.”
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/07/1415225

Directnic.com is a large domain registration provider located in the
Central Business District of New Orleans. They have managed to stay
high and dry throughout the storm, never having lost connection once.
These folks have posted hundreds of photographs on their website since
the Hurricane. They posted pictures of two men who’d left the Superdome
to escape to New Orleans. http://www.nola-intel.org/pictures3/ Both
men were very unhappy enough with the conditions there that they escaped
to try their luck in a flooded city.

WATER AND FIRE

Governor Blanco shut off the water on Wednesday. This was due not to a
health problem, but because of a potential contamination. New Orleans
resident Claudia Copeland wrote, “They have shut off the tap water. They
want to stem disease from drinking contaminated water, but at least if
they gave us contaminated water, we could boil it.” Tap water in New
Orleans comes from the Mississippi River, not any more polluted than it
normally is. One poster on Indymedia wrote that while the water was shut
off in the city, the natural gas was still functioning as of Thursday
evening. Shutting off the water also contributed to one of the most
obvious and immediate problems in the city - the lack of toilets and the
over-flowing sewage.

Directnic.com posted a photograph of the first water distribution they’d
seen on Canal Street (a major road) at
http://www.nola-intel.org/pictures3/Picture074.jpg They wrote “People
were happy to see water available,” that “Ironically the water is
labeled “Nirvana’” and that “Everyone I asked said that this was the
first time they noticed water dropped off.”
http://www.nola-intel.org/pictures3/

Fires now ravage the city because the Fire Department cannot get water
pressure to put out the fires. One fire at the Governor Nichols' Wharf,
raging near my home, was extinguished only because it was next to
the river and fireboats put it out with river water.
http://www.nola.com/cgi-bin/prxy/photogalleries/nph-cache.cgi/cache=3000;/nola/images/3804/07_Fireworld1.jpg

POLICE

The 1,600-member New Orleans Police Department has fallen to about 1,000
by Tuesday, said Warren J. Riley, NOPD assistant superintendent.
http://2theadvocate.com/stories/090605/new_holdouts001.shtml There is
widespread distrust of the police department in New Orleans with good
reason. Not only is it well-known for its long history of corruption,
but it maintained miserable policies and behavior through the recent
years, as well. There have been ten killings of residents by police
officers so far in 2005, including not one, but two separate indictments
of police raping women while in uniform this year. Since moving to New
Orleans in late 2004, my partner and I were frequently harassed by the
cops and let's face it - we're white and have a place to sleep/food to
eat. Not the biggest targets. We have been screamed at and threatened
with arrest - once for sitting on a street curb during Mardi Gras and
another time for sitting next to Lake Pontchartrain, having a quiet date
eating biscuits and corn.

The NOPD dropped its veneer as a neutral law-enforcement organization
and is revealed in all its renegade posse racist glory as this disaster
struck. Police officers are now riding high in pick-up trucks, guns
held high with a newly-designed NOPD/Pirate logo, complete with skull
and cross-bones.
http://www.nola.com/cgi-bin/prxy/photogalleries/nph-cache.cgi/cache=3000;/nola/images/3775/05_NOPD.jpg
While the National Guard jokes with white French Quarter residents,
http://www.nola.com/cgi-bin/prxy/photogalleries/nph-cache.cgi/cache=3000;/nola/images/3788/2088123.jpg
, SWAT teams are invading black homes - “Leonard Thomas, 23, cries
after a SWAT team burst into the flooded home he and his family were
living in on Monday, Sept. 5, 2005”
http://www.nola.com/cgi-bin/prxy/photogalleries/nph-cache.cgi/cache=3000;/nola/images/3785/08.jpg
and shooting and arresting blacks.

In a striking show of the difference between New Orleans residents and
government associates, the New Zealand Herald reported at 9:30am that “New
Orleans police shot and killed four men and wounded one other after
looters fired on officers.” Just half an hour later, the Herald Sun
reported that “Associated Press reports that at least five people shot
dead by police as they walked across a New Orleans bridge yesterday were
contractors working for the US Defense department.”
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4459.php Residents have
just as much right, if not more right, to walk on their bridges. This
city does not belong to the government. It belongs to its residents.

JAILS

One of the most horrifying possibilities is the very strong chance that
imprisoned people have drowned in their cells while in jail. I received
an email from a personal friend detailing one man’s escape - “do you
know that (name omitted) and many others had to break themselves free
from the prison cells, he said that hundreds in there did not make it,
that they were left there to die. I hope to be going there myself next
week, and (name omitted) will be coming back here with me and our son.”
In one news report, News Day reported that New Orleans correction
officer Shantia Barnes believes that many inmates may have drowned,
including inmates housed on the first floor of the Templeman 3 building,
where in the chaos, some inmates may have remained locked inside.
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-lioff05,0,4856723.story?coll=ny-linews-headlines


I also received an email from Xochitl Bervera of Families and Friends of
Louisiana's Incarcerated Children who has contacted two separate
grandmothers who lost their 16 year old grandsons as they were
evacuating. After sitting on the causeway or in the convention center
for 4 or 5 days, buses came. As they were boarding the buses, these
youth were pulled out by cops for "pushing" and handcuffed there. That
was the last time their grandmothers saw them. The lines between unruly
and criminal are becoming increasing blurred, as politicians call for “zero
tolerance” on looting in a resource-scarce area.

Lisa Kung of the Southern Center for Human Rights emailed information
today stating that “FFLIC has not confirmed that all youths have been
accounted for,” and “The NYTimes today reports that Sheriff Gusman
claims the prisoners have all been moved outside the city. As of this
morning, however, it seems the OPP computer system was still down, so it
is hard to fathom how the Sheriff could credibly make such a claim. We
have heard disturbing accounts of the evacuation of OPP. If you have any
first or second person accounts, please send/forward here to my email
lkung@schr.org and/or xochit@mediajumpstart.org.”
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4761.php

One glance at the makeshift Bus Station Jail shows that the New Orleans
Injustice System is continuing arrest and lock-up folks with the same
racist, unjust methods as before Katrina. Pictures show almost all
black folks arrested, while every jailer is white. The color line is
the same one I saw while sitting in a New Orleans court this summer -
almost every prisoner was black, while the judge, lawyers and court
clerks were white. It would take a several heaping spoonfuls of color-blindness
to ignore this situation. It is not pretty, but this is unacceptable.
From the rescue efforts to the racist prison system, this must stop
now.

ON LOOTING

In the minds of the locals I’ve spoken with since departing New Orleans,
looting had become a necessary evil in a city with little to no
incoming distribution of resources like food and water. If you speak
with locals, you will find out that the majority of the looting was done
to share resources.

‘But what about the shoes and diapers?’ Well, if you can’t figure out
the necessity of shoes and diapers in a situation like this, then I can’t
help you here. ‘But a plasma TV?’ One must understand that New
Orleans residents just had all of their belongings soaked by a flood.
In a situation where there has been very little distributed food and
water and no reliable information on how to get out of the city,
illegal bargaining and plasma TVs can be very important for getting your
family a bus ride. Resident Claudia Copeland, wrote an account of her
departure from the city. She and her friends were driven out on a
pirated bus which demanded $50.00 a ride, but the driver bargained down
to get everyone out. This may sound callous, but this bus driver was
helping people through the night when the government and relief agencies
would not or could not.
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4048.php

Instead of focusing on the vast need for transportation and food,
Governor Kathleen Blanco sent in 300 National Guard troops who landed in
New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq, stating "They have M-16s and they're
locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they
are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.“ As with the
Kent State massacre and Tien'amin Square, she hoped to send in troops
from afar when the local troops just won’t shoot their fellow residents.
Thus far, it seems that the National Guard has done less killing than
the local SWATs, but this situation still needs attention.

In an illustration of just how rampant illegal resource-gathering became,
even the New Orleans Police Department were ‘caught’ on videotape while
looting a Wal-Mart.
http://www.zippyvideos.com/8911023771013466/countdown-looting-in-walmart/
The Arizona Republic reported that its local sheriffs “watched New
Orleans police officers loading their patrol cars with items taken from
various businesses, including a Wal-Mart, a couple of pharmacies, a
hardware store, an auto-parts store and a grocery store.” This was
quickly explained away by their chief, who said "The worst thing we
could do is judge what happened. They were besieged."
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0907katrina-looting07.html If
looting is explainable and acceptable for police, who have all the state’s
support, it is certainly acceptable for New Orleans residents to meet
their desperate needs during the crisis.

HOSPITALS

One might think that hospitals would be at the top of the list to be
evacuated. I received two separate emails illustrating that this is not
the case in New Orleans. One nurse writes “I was working at Charity
Sun. Aug. 28 to Fri. Sept. 2 during the storm. It was a nightmare. We,
all staff and patients were evacuated from the roof of
Charity on Friday. . . The truth of this whole thing must see the day of
light!” Another email was a frantic plea for help on Thursday, Sept.
1st from a friend of Kim Keene, in charge of Touro Infirmary. “Yesterday
they had 4 hours of generator time left, were stranded on the 2nd floor
and above, and had 1200 people (patients and staff). Looters were
banging at the door and they only had a handful of security guards. She
is trying to find a way to get the people out as they had no water,
limited supplies and with no electricity there is no life support and
people will start dying. Trouro, an independent Jewish hospital in the
garden district, has been completely ignored- it has not been put on the
emergency evacuation plan and no news stations or papers have covered
what is happening there. She called desperate to get someone to notice
them.”

In a third story about another hospital, the Raw Story interviewed Bill
Quigley, who was volunteering at Memorial Hospital, where his wife,
Debbie, works as a doctor. They write, “The power went out early Monday.
The sickest patients, roughly seventy or so, were evacuated by
helicopter Sunday. Not until Wednesday morning did more helicopters
appear. Quigley and other volunteers tried to get the attention of the
numerous helicopters they could see hovering over the city.”
Furthermore, “As the hours and days wore on and no help came,
floodwaters continued to rise. Medication and supplies ran out. Quigley
says he saw no National Guard, local or state police or security forces
of any kind. Around midday on Thursday, air boats operated by private
volunteers began arriving and taking four or five persons at a time. The
remaining hospital patients and staff – approximately 2000 people --
were evacuated by citizen volunteers.”
http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Lethal_chaos_Law_professor_describes_scene_at_New_Orleans_ho_0905.html

These are three different personal stories from three different
hospitals indicating, yet once again, the massive failure of the
government to help those most needy during Hurricane Katrina.


PHOTO OPS

Even the state senator, Mary Landrieu, said “But perhaps the greatest
disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this
critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be
a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this
catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less
than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a
hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the
desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a
single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of
southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor,
young and old - deserve far better from their national government.”
http://www.fromtheroots.org/story/2005/9/3/19542/97952

U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea told the Times-Picayune
that three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St.
Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection
bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President
Bush’s visit to New Orleans. “We had arrangements to airlift food by
helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because
they won’t let helicopters fly,” O’Shea said Friday afternoon. It was
not reported whether the supplies ever actually made it to those who
most needed it.
http://www.nola.com/weblogs/print.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/print076556.html


Across the Atlantic, two German news stations were aghast at the level
of grandstanding by the President. ZDF News’ correspondent Claudia
Rueggeberg stated, “Along his [Bush] travel route aid units removed
debris and recovered corpses. Then Bush left and along with him, all aid
troops left too. The situation in Biloxi remains unchanged, nothing has
arrived, everything is still needed."
http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/002504.html Then, Christine
Adelhardt, of ARD Video, said “But what has happened in Biloxi all day
long is truly unbelievable. Suddenly recovery units appeared, suddenly
bulldozers were there, those hadn't been seen here all the days before,
and this in an area, in which it really wouldn't be necessary to do a
big clean up, because far and wide nobody lives here anymore, the people
are more inland in the city. The President travels with a press baggage
[big crew]. This press baggage got very beautiful pictures which are
supposed to say, that the President was here and help is on the way, too.
The extent of the natural disaster shocked me, but the extent of the
staging is shocking me at least the same way.”
http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2005/9/3/22494/85287/77#77

What was the president doing here, other than bolstering his position in
the polls? For any presidential visit to any city at the best of times,
large areas of the city along the president's route are blockaded and
air traffic over certain areas is halted for security reasons. Unless
the President dares to walk the streets unguarded, something this man
apparently knows not to risk, he should be devoting his time and efforts
to delivering support to the region. These stories speak for
themselves. The mission is, apparently, not accomplished. New Orleans
and other affected by the storm need real, on the ground support. We
expect more when it comes to rebuilding the city.

CATASTROPHE

The disaster will definitely go down in history as one of the worst in
this country. It brings Pompeii to mind. Atlantis is frequently
mentioned. I would much prefer the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake or the
1871 The Great Fire in Chicago, IL or even Dresden, Germany. These
cities rebuilt. The government is attempting to evacuate this city,
quite possibly in order to drown it or burn it for good. Pundits from
the US and other nations suggest that it should be allowed to die.
However, this was one of the strongest cities in the nation. No other
city matches New Orleans for the culture and music and resistance and
community that I heard from regular, everyday folks in that city.

This hurricane and flood are much much worse than Sept. 11th. As a
volunteer EMT wrote, “I was in New York during September 11 and the
weeks that followed and I say the following with complete certainty:
this disaster is so much worse than September 11 that they are not even
comparable.” http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4046.php
The death toll will be much higher and those affected will not be stock-brokers
- it will be the black and poor. For those who lose a loved one, it is
not just one person dead, but entire families and communities who lose
their loved ones, then their houses, then their jobs and finally their
entire community and city. The first two days of this disaster was a
natural disaster - the days since have been purely man-made.

RETURNING

The first thing on many New Orleans’ residents minds is when we can
return. Some outsiders characterize this as naive and foolish. I
wonder, how would they react if someone told them to simply walk away
from their entire lives? New Orleans is our home and even days away,
many of us already miss our community and neighborhoods. While the
mayor has called for complete evacuation of the city, the feds have
refused to evacuate people from their homes. This contradiction in
authority and chain of command has left many still in the city. The
biggest concern for myself right now is the contamination levels in the
city from nearby petrochemical plants and the flooded city. Again, the
only thing to do is wait.

While the National Guard and New Orleans Police Department keep New
Orleans’ residents from their homes, people from other areas of the
Gulf South, including nearby Jefferson Parish, are allowed to return to
collect belongings and board up homes.
http://www.nola.com/cgi-bin/prxy/photogalleries/nph-cache.cgi/cache=3000;/nola/images/3792/9.jpg
One might think that this is due to flooding or some electricity, but
many areas of Jefferson Parish are still flooded and without electricity.
This, again, is an issue of class and race and control.

The Mayor declared a mandatory, forced evacuation yesterday,
http://www.nola.com/cityofno/ but active-military troops said they had
no plans to use force, according to this story at the Arizona Republic.
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0907KatrinaNewOrleans07-ON.html
However, as his troops prepared for a massive citywide security mission
on Friday, Brig. Gen. Gary Jones told the Army Times “This place is
going to look like Little Somalia. We’re going to go out and take this
city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under
control.” http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1077495.php

These contradictions in bureaucracy are allowing some New Orleans
residents to remain in the city. Their presence there is vital to the
city’s survival - if they leave, then those who believe New Orleans
should go the way of Atlantis have a far greater chance of succeeding.
Personal stories and information will not go in and out of the city.
Consciously or not, they act as both witnesses and obstructions to
government oppression. Wherever non-governmental New Orleans residents
reside, the government will not succeed in a complete police state.

SUPPORTING

There are several very real ways that you can begin to support displaced
New Orleans residents. We are not refugees. We are displaced
residents. Our city may be underwater, but the community is the heart
of the New Orleans. The community is the reason I moved there and the
key to rebuilding a flourishing city, not a sanitized Theme Park.

New Orleans residents open our city to thousands of visitors each year,
but there is much much more to the city than Bourbon Street and Café du
Monde. There are the neighborhoods, which provide the basis for the
community. One of the first things a new resident must learn upon
moving to New Orleans are all the different neighborhoods - “the Treme (the
first free black neighborhood in the entire US), Uptown, Mid-city, the
Marigny, Central City, the 9th Ward, the Lower 9th Ward, Gentilly, to
name just a few. The flavor and heart of each neighborhood are its
people.

There are the people. Some of these people now lie underwater and their
lives must be remembered and cherished as much as their deaths. These
people are not statistics - they are sons and daughters, parents and
grandparents. They are community.

Some of these people remain in the city, acting as eyes and ears to the
rest of the nation about the real story of Katrina. They are the
resilient community. Continuing independent operations to distribute
food and water to New Orleans residents appears as necessary now as over
the past week.

The remaining displaced New Orleans residents have been spread across
the country. In the words of my friend, Glenn, “I feel like I am not
going to see any of my friends again for a really long time, like all
the crazy stuff that randomly went into people being in New Orleans has
unraveled and we are all spread across the country. I am pretty sad
about the whole thing. I'm at least 5th generation New Orleanian, so I
want to go back no matter what. I fear for the future, when everything
gets torn down and property speculators come in and buy it all up. What
a fucking mess.“ Jobs for rebuilding New Orleans and help with homes
should go first to New Orleans residents, especially those who need it
most. We deserve and will need a chance to participate in fixing our
city.

If you would like to financially or personally support some local, class-
and race-conscious organizers to do on the ground support for displaced
New Orleans residents, I recommend the three following organizations.
I do not work for any of these groups, although I have supported them in
the past, because they did good work in New Orleans prior to Katrina
and they are continuing this after she left.

Friends and Families of Louisiana Incarcerated Children has called for
volunteers to help them with getting families in touch with their
imprisoned or arrested children. You can also donate money to “FFLIC
Hurricane Relief Fund” at 920 Platt Street, Sulphur, Louisiana, 70663.
You can contact them by writing xochit@mediajumpstart.org or visiting
http://www.fflic.org

Community Labor United, a coalition of the progressive organizations
throughout New Orleans, has brought community members together for eight
years to discuss socio-economic issues. They have set up a People's
Hurricane Fund that will be directed and administered by New Orleanian
evacuees and you can find more info about donating at
http://www.qecr.org/index.html

Critical Resistance is a national prison abolition organization that has
a chapter in New Orleans. They are also organizing to provide local
support in to help folks recover and rebuild. You can donate to them at
http://www.criticalresistance.org/index.php?name=Support-CR

New Orleans Indymedia needs help with original stories and coverage. It
is one of the best resources for local, personal accounts of the
hurricane. http://nola.indymedia.org Especially in times of crisis
like that currently raging, we need current coverage and New Orleans
residents’ stories.

add your comments


don't forget the animals as well
by mz kittinz Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 4:36 PM

really good summary - thank you.

one thing i would add to this is the state's cruel treatment of animals and animal owners during the evacuation. refusing to allow pets on evacuation buses, forcing people to choose between their lives and their pets, not allowing animal rescuers in until late in the game - it's utterly cruel and heartbreaking.

At least there's been some organizing efforts around this - petitioning the mayor, calling/emailing FEMA , keeping the pressure on the media....

if folks want to donate to animal rescue/relief efforts, they can see:

http://www.bestfriends.org
http://www.aspca.org
http://www.hsus.org
http://www.uan.org

thanks again for the summary, particularly the information regarding prisoners, which i hadn't seen before.

add your comments


God blesses you for this concise listing - the only piece missing - SHELTERS
by Assorted leads Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 4:38 PM

Numerous listings and discussion blogs give first hand reports of people's experiences. The one that follows gives a first hand account with photographs. It gives me pause...
- please read through and review the pictures on the links for yourself.

For further reference read :

The Evacuees are moving, but the fence isn't by the Denver Post
http://www.denverpost.com/carman/ci_3006502
Or this quote from Democracy Now on Wednesday, Sept 7
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/07/1415225

"....we began to travel through the shelters so that we could locate. We couldn't get cooperation from the government of where they were taking our people. But we just started going city to city up the highway, and every city, as we went out on 10 West, we traveled all the way to Houston. We
started at Baton Rouge. Everything was filled. Churches, gymnasiums, civic centers, dormitories of college campuses where the students had brought the families into their dormitories........But when we would go to the public
shelters, they were almost like prisons. You could hardly get in. There was all kind of criteria for how you could get in to see the people that was almost like visiting somebody in prison. The people didn't have access to the world around them for fear, again, because on TV they had been
criminalized already. So, though the communities were willing to accept them, they were not willing for these people to walk the streets of their town. They were eating sweets and Cokes, still, to the day - I came to this studio this morning having driven from Houston. Every little town between Baton Rouge and Houston had shelters with our people. And they were all managed by FEMA and Homeland Security and soldiers and National Guards, and the ability to go visit these people was like tremendously hard work........"
============================================================================
====================
http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/fema.html

I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp

I'm extremely depressed to report that things seem to only be getting sadder
concerning the people so devastatingly affected by Katrina last week. Two
car loads of us headed over to Falls Creek, a youth camp for Southern
Baptist churches in Oklahoma that agreed to have its facilities used to
house Louisiana refugees. I'm afraid the camp is not going to be used as the
kind people of the churches who own the cabins believe it was going to be
used.

Jesse Jackson was right when he said "refugees" was not the appropriate word
for the poor souls dislocated due to Katrina. But he was wrong about why it
is not appropriate. It's not appropriate because they are detainees, not
refugees.

Falls Creek is like a small town that is closed down about 9 months out of
the year. It is made up of cabins that range from small and humble to large
and grandiose, according to how much money the church who owns the cabin
has. Each cabin has full kitchen facilities, bathrooms and usually have two
large bunkrooms - one for women and one for men. The occupancy of the cabins
varies according to the church. This past week the Southern Baptist
association of Oklahoma offered the facility as a place to house refugees
from the Katrina disaster. Each church owning a cabin was then called to
find out if they would make their cabin available. Churches across the state
agreed.

I started my journey by loading six large trash bags full of clothes in the
back of my beetle buggy. I then went to the local Dollar General and
purchased various hygiene products, snacks and even a set of dominoes and a
deck of cards. I had my daughter take her own shopping cart and go and
select her own items that she wanted to take. I told her to imagine herself
without anything in the world and then select what she would need to live
every day.

We then met up with my elderly parents who had gone to the Dollar Store
themselves, and to the grocery store and had spent WAY too much of their
limited social security on the venture. But that's okay. We ended up having
to take both vehicles on the 150 mile round trip because they were both
pretty full. My son showed up and wanted to go. He drove my parents while my
daughter and I rode in my car.

To say we all left with excitement would be appropriate. My 78 year old
mother is a "fixer". She loves to help people and she absolutely needs some
one to dote over. That she was about to be able to help some people who had
lost all in their lives had her feeling physically healthier than I've seen
her in days. I was glad to get the chance to actively do something other
than donate what little I can to some faceless charity hoping it would get
to the people who needed it. I felt glad I could do some small something
that might cut through the helplessness I've felt over this situation. Both
of my kids were eager to assist.

The only odd thing that occurred prior to setting off happened while I was
gassing up in our small town. My daughter was pumping the gas and a lady she
knew pulled up to an adjacent pump. My daughter started telling her where we
were going and that we were taking things to the refugees. The lady told my
daughter that she had been told the Red Cross was not allowing any one to
deliver supplies. When I returned to the car from paying for the gas my
daughter informed of this. I told her that the Red Cross would not be
preventing the members of our church from entering our own cabin, so it
really didn't matter. It was at that point we decided to stop back by the
house and get my daughter's camera so that she could take pictures if
required.

From the moment I heard about Falls Creek being scheduled to receive
refugees I had two thoughts run through my mind:

1. What a beautiful place to be able to stay while trying to get your life
back in order.

2. What a terrible location to be when you're trying to get your life back
in order.

The first thought is because Falls Creek is nestled in the Arbuckle
Mountains of south central Oklahoma. One of the more beautiful regions of
the state. It would be a peaceful and beautiful place to try to start
mending emotionally, and begin to figure what you're going to do next.

The second thought comes because Falls Creek is very secluded and absolutely
no where near a population center. The closest route from Falls Creek to a
connecting road is three miles on a winding narrow road called "High Road"
(It gets that name for two reasons - it's goes over the mountain instead of
around it like "Low Road" does, and it's where the teenagers of the area go
to party). The road has not a single home on it for over 3 miles. After
battling that 3 miles over mountains, you'll find yourself about 5 miles
from the nearest town, Davis, Oklahoma, population ca. 2000. This is no
place to start a new life.

add your comments


Louisiana Homeland Security
by Toni Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005 at 7:33 PM
paratroop69@hotmail.com

Great honest accounting. One correction, the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security prohibited the entry of the American Red Cross. Each state, and govenor, controls their own internal Dept. of Homeland Security. I know it seems trivial, but one distinct lesson evolves from it. I used to live in Louisiana, and its state government is notorious for corruption and incompetence. All people need to learn more about their local, state and national governments to prevent corruption, incompetence and abuse. An ignorant populace is the first step to tyranny.

add your comments


Didn't realize it was that bad
by Ashley Friday, Sep. 09, 2005 at 5:30 AM

To disallow, people to walk to saftey along the freeway is just completely incompentant. And the vigilantiy cops they never had any right to wear a badge in the first place.

add your comments


forced evacuation/censorship
by 1967vietnamvet Friday, Sep. 09, 2005 at 7:35 AM

Has anyone considered that the forced evacuation is intended to prevent citizen witnesses from seeing and reporting the true extent of devastation and loss of life?

As with the lack of photos of Iraq war dead in the media, the administration doesn't want disturbing images broadcast to the world. Images which illustrate its utter incompetence and indifference.

Instead, sound bytes and photo ops by the grandstanders assure everyone that everything is OK.

add your comments


Governmenr is worse than useless
by anarchist Friday, Sep. 09, 2005 at 10:54 PM

It's in the way.

add your comments


Looks like Deportation a la Acadians
by Ross J. Peterson Saturday, Sep. 10, 2005 at 1:02 AM
stream@videotron.ca Montreal

The forced evacuation is one shoe, the other fell when New Orleans people were scattered across the U.S. Where we see racism is in the plan - the only one effectively implemented - to not concentrate aid resources around the geographical area affected to assist people in rebuilding their lives near home.

Do we need a new term like 'herd racism' as in "blacks are okay in ones and twos, but white buddy watch out wherever they start to herd!" ? That's my nasty sarcasm.

I offered an historical comparison between this TRANSPORTATION and that of the Acadians in 1755. But I am beginning to wonder whether, of all the infamous transportation known, that of the London riff-raff sent to Australia as a penal colony wasn't the best deal th UNWANTED ever pulled down from the authorities.

See my remarks in n.o.indy's 'Articles' section at
http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/4944.php

add your comments


absolutely
by anarchist Sunday, Sep. 11, 2005 at 5:07 PM

yeah, three or four days ago i talked to a friend of mine in mississippi. he told me about how the police have been treating people... then yesterday i tried to call him again and now it says that due to the hurricane "this call cannot be completed as dialed". things certainly can't have gotten worse! communications have been deliberately cut off! they're trying to keep people from finding out what's been happening... it's grounds for revolution...
http://situationist.gq.nu

add your comments


"it's grounds for revolution... "
by history buff Monday, Sep. 12, 2005 at 12:12 AM

King George III treated people better than Prez George II

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