[R-G] Mayor turns cops loose against New Orleans Blacks (aka "looters")
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Aug 31 22:40:44 MDT 2005
The New Orleans mayor has ordered police to stop "looting" in a city
which he says will be uninhabitable for at least the next three months,
reports the article below from today's NY Times. To accomplish this, he
is unleashing the police force -- which has been being used to find
injured survivors -- for action against the city's Black community.
The cops are being given a license to kill, in circumstances in which
the whole Black population of the city has been systematically
criminalized by the media nationally. The campaign to scapegoat the
Black survivors in the ruined city is likely to reach a bloody new
stage? The victims of the catastrophe -- labelled as "the worst in us"
-- are to be sacrificed to the political coverup of the perpetrators of
the catastrophe (who represent, of course, the best we have to offer).
And in paragraph 9, the Timespeople pause for a moment to ponder a
"paradox" that this whole disaster can yet become a zillion dollar
boondoggle for the capitalists and politicians. But first, let's kill
some "looters"! Tomorrow is another day. Fred Feldman
New Orleans, Police Ordered to Stop Looters By ROBERT D. McFADDEN and
RALPH BLUMENTHAL NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 31-Chaos gripped New Orleans on
Wednesday as looters ran wild, food and water supplies dwindled, bodies
floated in the floodwaters, the evacuation of the Superdome began and
officials said there was no choice but to abandon the city devastated by
Hurricane Katrina, perhaps for months. President Bush pledged vast
assistance, but acknowledged, "This recovery will take years."
For the first time, a New Orleans official suggested the scope of the
death toll. Mayor C. Ray Nagin said the hurricane may have killed
thousands in his city alone, an estimate that, if correct, would make it
the nation's deadliest natural disaster since the 1906 San Francisco
earthquake and fire, which killed up to 6,000 people.
"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and
others hidden from view in attics and other places, the mayor told
reporters. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely,
As survivors struggled with a disaster that left damage of up to $25
billion, a gargantuan relief effort got under way. Ships, planes,
helicopters and convoys of supplies and rescue teams converged on the
Gulf Coast, and Pentagon officials said that 30,000 National Guard and
active-duty troops would be deployed by this weekend in the largest
domestic relief effort by the military in the nation's history.
With police officers and National Guard troops giving priority to saving
lives, looters brazenly ripped open gates and ransacked stores for food,
clothing, television sets, computers, jewelry and guns, often in full
view of helpless law-enforcement officials. Dozens of carjackings,
apparently by survivors desperate to escape, were reported, as were a
number of shootings.
On Wednesday night, Mayor Nagin ordered 1,500 police officers, most of
the city's force, to turn from search and rescue to stopping the
looting. "They are starting to get closer to the heavily populated areas
- hotels, hospitals, and we're going to stop it right now," he said in a
statement issued to The Associated Press.
New Orleans, a city of 500,000, mostly below sea level and reliant upon
levees along the Mississippi River running south of it and Lake
Pontchartrain to the north, was a nightmarish waterworld that Mr. Nagin
said would have to be abandoned while the levees are repaired and the
city is drained. He called for a "total evacuation," adding: "We have
to. The city will not be functional for two or three months."
Total recovery appeared to be far more remote. Officials of the Army
Corps of Engineers said it would be weeks or months before the city
could be pumped dry, and that it would take years to rebuild its
thousands of homes and businesses, its streets, highways and other
infrastructure - an investment that could cost billions of dollars and
perhaps never recover the rich cultural heritage of the Big Easy.
One paradox, experts said, was that the destruction of a city that has
always been vulnerable to water might provide an opportunity to rebuild
it to make it more secure, with stronger buildings and with levees
capable of withstanding the harshest categories of storms. The present
levees are designed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane; Hurricane
Katrina was a Category 4 storm, one short of the highest category.
As flooding ravaged a drowning city already 80 percent under water, Army
engineers tried to plug breached levees in canals leading from Lake
Pontchartrain into New Orleans, struggling to move sandbags and concrete
barriers into two gaping holes, of 300 and 100 feet in length. The
existence of a third gap of 100 feet was disclosed on Wednesday, and
officials called the repair task an engineering nightmare.
But in an otherwise dismal picture of wreckage and despair, Col. Terry
Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, offered a glimmer
of hope. He said the city's flooding seemed to be stabilizing.
"The water isn't going to get higher," Colonel Ebbert said. With the
level of Pontchartrain down several feet, the lake and its feeder canals
had reached a point of equilibrium with the water in the city, he said.
For thousands of refugees trapped in New Orleans it was little
consolation. Hundreds were still huddled on rooftops or isolated on
patches of ground, where they have awaited rescue for two days without
food or water. An armada of small boats was out, rescuing many from
flooded areas in the poorest sections of New Orleans.
Other refugees wandered aimlessly, on land and through shallows, pushing
shopping carts of belongings. Some perched on sections of Interstate 10
that were still standing, though much of the highway had collapsed. Cars
shimmered eerily underwater, and basketballs floated on the surface,
along with children's swimming floats, trees and other debris.
The bulk of the city's refugees were in or around the Superdome, which
has become a shelter of last resort for more than 20,000 people. Gov.
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said conditions there had become
desperate, with food, water and other supplies running out, with toilets
overflowing and the air foul, with temperatures hitting 100 degrees and
"It's becoming untenable," the governor said. "There's no power. It's
getting more difficult to get food and water supplies in, just basic
essentials." She said she wanted the Superdome totally evacuated within
two days, and plans were being made to move most of the refugees to
Houston's Astrodome, 350 miles away, in a convoy of 475 buses. Some of
the elderly and sick were removed from the sweltering stadium on
Wednesday afternoon, but they were being sent elsewhere.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, besides offering use of the Astrodome and
other shelters in Houston, said that school-age children of the refugees
would be promptly admitted to Texas public schools and given textbooks,
lunches and transportation.
"In the face of such tragic circumstances," Governor Perry said, "we
know we're neighbors and we're going to pull together so that these
families can find as much normalcy as they can. We realize that by the
grace of God we could be the ones that have this extraordinary need."
Across the stricken region, there were tales of misery, with hundreds of
thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, with roads washed away and
airports shut down, with power grids shattered and five million people
in four states lacking electricity.
And to the rising toll of victims killed, injured or homeless and
jobless were added other plagues: possible epidemics of disease;
overwhelmed hospitals and sanitation facilities, lost communications and
transportation systems and almost everywhere hellish scenes of
In Mississippi, at least 110 people were dead, hundreds of waterfront
homes and businesses were destroyed, nearly a million homes were without
power and dozens of casinos built on barges were heavily damaged or
wrecked, depriving 14,000 people of jobs and the state of $500,000 a day
in tax revenues. In Biloxi, looters rifled casino slot machines for
coins and ransacked other businesses. The city of Gulfport was almost
destroyed, and Biloxi was heavily damaged.
In Alabama, more than 400,000 homes and businesses were without power,
flooding reached 11 feet in Mobile and hundreds of homes along the
eastern shore of Mobile Bay were flooded. Florida, struck by the eastern
edge of the cartwheeling storm on Monday, reported 11 deaths, and more
than 100,000 homes and businesses were still without power.
Returning to Washington from a Texas vacation, Mr. Bush flew over the
stricken Gulf Coast for a first-hand look at the destruction, and at a
news conference later on Wednesday said his administration was committed
to the relief and recovery effort.
"The folks on the Gulf Coast are going to need the help of this country
for a long time," the president said. "This is going to be a difficult
road. The challenges we face on the ground are unprecedented. But
there's no doubt in my mind that we're going to succeed. Right now, the
days seem awfully dark for those affected. But I'm confident that, with
time, you'll get your life back in order. New communities will flourish.
The great city of New Orleans will be back on its feet. And America will
be a stronger place for it."
Mr. Bush formally declared a major disaster in Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama and Florida as the government and a host of state, local and
private agencies began what was expected to be a search, rescue and
relief task rivaling those of a nation under enemy attack.
"We are dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's
history," the president said. The response, he said, would be
commensurate, but he added a note of caution: "This recovery will take a
long time. This recovery will take years."
At an earlier news conference in Washington with cabinet secretaries and
other government leaders, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland
security, also said the relief effort would be one of the largest
response mobilizations in the nation's history, a coordinated campaign
by 14 federal agencies to save lives, provide relief and lead a
comprehensive recovery effort.
Under the mobilization, the Pentagon was sending in eight ships carrying
food, medicine, fuel and other supplies, as well as construction
materials. The Defense Department also ordered the hospital ship Comfort
redeployed from Baltimore. About 60 helicopters were sent to assist in
search and rescues and to haul heavy cargo and to assess damage.
Eight 14-member Swift boat rescue teams also were dispatched from
California aboard Air Force C-5 cargo planes. More than 11,000 members
of the National Guard were already in the region, providing rescue and
relief assistance, officials said. Hundreds of heavy, high-wheeled
trucks capable of plowing through water were also on the way.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed 39 disaster medical
assistance teams from around the country, and has mobilized 1,700
trailer trucks to carry in water, ice, meals, medical supplies,
generators, tents and tarpaulins.
Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said that a
health emergency had been declared for the region and that a network of
40 medical shelters was being set up. Public health teams were also
being assembled, he said, and 2,600 hospital beds in 12 states, and
40,000 nationwide, had been identified for use, if needed.
"We are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid and
dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water
and other conditions," Mr. Leavitt said. "We'll also be working with
local officials on sanitation and food safety."
The focus of the day was on New Orleans. Asked on ABC's "Good Morning
America" program how long the city would be uninhabitable, Mr. Nagin
said: "Before this last challenge with the rising waters, I was
estimating 10 weeks. We're probably looking at 12 to 16 weeks before
people can come in. And the other issue that's concerning me is we have
dead bodies in the water. At some point in time, the dead bodies are
going to start to create a serious disease issue."
The refugees were eager to get out. "It's not like people are just there
because they want to be there right now," Governor Blanco said. "They're
there because they're trapped. They're trapped in the city. They can't
move about that easily."
Oil production in the gulf had largely been shut down during the
hurricane. With the resulting drop in production, gasoline shortages
developed in some areas of the country and prices surged above $3 a
gallon. In response, the Department of Energy said it would release oil
from the nation's strategic reserve to offset the production losses. The
announcement helped push oil prices lower.
Jeremy Alford contributed reporting from Baton Rouge, La., for this
article; Felicity Barringer from Metairie, La.; Ralph Blumenthal and
Joseph B. Treaster from New Orleans; and Robert D. McFadden from New
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