The day after a common ground volunteer was arrested, threatened and brutalized by New Orleans Police, Rustbelt Radio spoke with Sakura Kon้ of Common Ground about the incident and the larger issues of repression and relief in New Orleans.
(audio, mp3, 21:10)
Last night, Thurs. November 10, 2005, three medical workers documenting police harassment outside the Common Ground Free Clinic became the targets of that harassment. This incident is the culmination of increased daily harassment this week, and are just a few of the examples of abuse that volunteer relief workers have faced over the past two months and that New Orleans residents, especially African Americans, are facing everyday.
Greg Griffith, a volunteer relief worker, was arrested by the New Orleans Police and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) near the Common Ground Free Clinic in Algiers. Greg was thrown against the car, charged with crossing a police line, resisting arrest, and carrying a concealed weapon- a small pocket knife. While handcuffed in the back of the police car, he was told that he would be "shot, and his body thrown in the river". He was bailed out last night fearing for his safety and will go to court at OPP this morning. Emily Westerholm, the Unit Coordinator was violently thrown to the ground and Scott Weinstein a resident RN was verbally abused.
Common Ground Collective was founded by local activist Malik Rahim as a relief organization in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Common Ground has a team of volunteers including: medical and health providers, aid workers, community organizers, environmentalists, legal representatives who have supported thousands of Gulf Coast residents who stayed and who are returning home. Says Rahim, "We're putting a call out for the establishment of a Human Rights Watch in New Orleans, and for volunteer lawyers and human rights organizations to help monitor the police behavior"