Firstly, a news comparison- apparently white people 'find' things whereas black people 'loot' them.
Notes From Inside New Orleans
by Jordan Flaherty
Friday, September 2, 2005
I just left New Orleans a couple hours ago. I traveled from the apartment
I was staying in by boat to a helicopter to a refugee camp. If anyone
wants to examine the attitude of federal and state officials towards the
victims of hurricane Katrina, I advise you to visit one of the refugee
In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freeway near Causeway,
thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in
mud and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with
heavily armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus would come
through, it would stop at a random spot, state police would open a gap in
one of the barricades, and people would rush for the bus, with no
information given about where the bus was going. Once inside (we were
told) evacuees would be told where the bus was taking them - Baton Rouge,
Houston, Arkansas, Dallas, or other locations. I was told that if you
boarded a bus bound for Arkansas (for example), even people with family
and a place to stay in Baton Rouge would not be allowed to get out of the
bus as it passed through Baton Rouge. You had no choice but to go to the
shelter in Arkansas. If you had people willing to come to New Orleans to
pick you up, they could not come within 17 miles of the camp.
I traveled throughout the camp and spoke to Red Cross workers, Salvation
Army workers, National Guard, and state police, and although they were
friendly, no one could give me any details on when buses would arrive, how
many, where they would go to, or any other information. I spoke to the
several teams of journalists nearby, and asked if any of them had been
able to get any information from any federal or state officials on any of
these questions, and all of them, from Australian tv to local Fox
affiliates complained of an unorganized, non-communicative, mess. One
cameraman told me "as someone who's been here in this camp for two days,
the only information I can give you is this: get out by nightfall. You
don't want to be here at night."
There was also no visible attempt by any of those running the camp to set
up any sort of transparent and consistent system, for instance a line to
get on buses, a way to register contact information or find family
members, special needs services for children and infirm, phone services,
treatment for possible disease exposure, nor even a single trash can.
To understand this tragedy, its important to look at New Orleans itself.
For those who have not lived in New Orleans, you have missed a incredible,
glorious, vital, city. A place with a culture and energy unlike anywhere
else in the world. A 70% African-American city where resistance to white
supremecy has supported a generous, subversive and unique culture of vivid
beauty. From jazz, blues and hiphop, to secondlines, Mardi Gras Indians,
Parades, Beads, Jazz Funerals, and red beans and rice on Monday nights,
New Orleans is a place of art and music and dance and sexuality and
liberation unlike anywhere else in the world.
It is a city of kindness and hospitality, where walking down the block can
take two hours because you stop and talk to someone on every porch, and
where a community pulls together when someone is in need. It is a city of
extended families and social networks filling the gaps left by city, state
and federal goverments that have abdicated their responsibilty for the
public welfare. It is a city where someone you walk past on the street
not only asks how you are, they wait for an answer.
It is also a city of exploitation and segregation and fear. The city of
New Orleans has a population of just over 500,000 and was expecting 300
murders this year, most of them centered on just a few, overwhelmingly
black, neighborhoods. Police have been quoted as saying that they don't
need to search out the perpetrators, because usually a few days after a
shooting, the attacker is shot in revenge.
There is an atmosphere of intense hostility and distrust between much of
Black New Orleans and the N.O. Police Department. In recent months,
officers have been accused of everything from drug running to corruption
to theft. In seperate incidents, two New Orleans police officers were
recently charged with rape (while in uniform), and there have been several
high profile police killings of unarmed youth, including the murder of
Jenard Thomas, which has inspired ongoing weekly protests for several
The city has a 40% illiteracy rate, and over 50% of black ninth graders
will not graduate in four years. Louisiana spends on average $4,724 per
child's education and ranks 48th in the country for lowest teacher
salaries. The equivalent of more than two classrooms of young people drop
out of Louisiana schools every day and about 50,000 students are absent
from school on any given day. Far too many young black men from New
Orleans end up enslaved in Angola Prison, a former slave plantation where
inmates still do manual farm labor, and over 90% of inmates eventually die
in the prison. It is a city where industry has left, and most remaining
jobs are are low-paying, transient, insecure jobs in the service economy.
Race has always been the undercurrent of Louisiana politics. This
disaster is one that was constructed out of racism, neglect and
incompetence. Hurricane Katrina was the inevitable spark igniting the
gasoline of cruelty and corruption. From the neighborhoods left most at
risk, to the treatment of the refugees to the the media portayal of the
victims, this disaster is shaped by race.
Louisiana politics is famously corrupt, but with the tragedies of this
week our political leaders have defined a new level of incompetence. As
hurricane Katrina approached, our Governor urged us to "Pray the hurricane
down" to a level two. Trapped in a building two days after the hurricane,
we tuned our battery-operated radio into local radio and tv stations,
hoping for vital news, and were told that our governor had called for a
day of prayer. As rumors and panic began to rule, they was no source of
solid dependable information. Tuesday night, politicians and reporters
said the water level would rise another 12 feet - instead it stabilized.
Rumors spread like wildfire, and the politicians and media only made it
While the rich escaped New Orleans, those with nowhere to go and no way to
get there were left behind. Adding salt to the wound, the local and
national media have spent the last week demonizing those left behind. As
someone that loves New Orleans and the people in it, this is the part of
this tragedy that hurts me the most, and it hurts me deeply.
No sane person should classify someone who takes food from indefinitely
closed stores in a desperate, starving city as a "looter," but thats just
what the media did over and over again. Sherrifs and politicians talked
of having troops protect stores instead of perform rescue operations.
Images of New Orleans' hurricane-ravaged population were transformed into
black, out-of-control, criminals. As if taking a stereo from a store that
will clearly be insured against loss is a greater crime than the
governmental neglect and incompetence that did billions of dollars of
damage and destroyed a city. This media focus is a tactic, just as the
eighties focus on "welfare queens" and "super-predators" obscured the
simultaneous and much larger crimes of the Savings and Loan scams and mass
layoffs, the hyper-exploited people of New Orleans are being used as a
scapegoat to cover up much larger crimes.
City, state and national politicians are the real criminals here. Since
at least the mid-1800s, its been widely known the danger faced by flooding
to New Orleans. The flood of 1927, which, like this week's events, was
more about politics and racism than any kind of natural disaster,
illustrated exactly the danger faced. Yet government officials have
consistently refused to spend the money to protect this poor,
overwhelmingly black, city.
While FEMA and others warned of the urgent impending danger to New Orleans
and put forward proposals for funding to reinforce and protect the city,
the Bush administration, in every year since 2001, has cut or refused to
fund New Orleans flood control, and ignored scientists warnings of
increased hurricanes as a result of global warming. And, as the dangers
rose with the floodlines, the lack of coordinated response dramatized
vividly the callous disregard of our elected leaders.
The aftermath from the 1927 flood helped shape the elections of both a US
President and a Governor, and ushered in the southern populist politics of
In the coming months, billions of dollars will likely flood into New
Orleans. This money can either be spent to usher in a "New Deal" for the
city, with public investment, creation of stable union jobs, new schools,
cultural programs and housing restoration, or the city can be "rebuilt and
revitalized" to a shell of its former self, with newer hotels, more
casinos, and with chain stores and theme parks replacing the former
neighborhoods, cultural centers and corner jazz clubs.
Long before Katrina, New Orleans was hit by a hurricane of poverty,
racism, disinvestment, de-industrialization and corruption. Simply the
damage from this pre-Katrina hurricane will take billions to repair.
Now that the money is flowing in, and the world's eyes are focused on
Katrina, its vital that progressive-minded people take this opportunity to
fight for a rebuilding with justice. New Orleans is a special place, and
we need to fight for its rebirth.
Jordan Flaherty is an editor of Left Turn Magazine (www.leftturn.org).
Below are some small, grassroots and New Orleans-based resources,
organizations and institutions that will need your support in the coming
Current Info and Resources:
"May the heart beat where it, in fact, does,
that is, on the left."
-Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, July of 2005.
How the Free Market Killed New Orleans*
By Michael Parenti
The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans
and the death of thousands of its residents. Armed with advanced warning
that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and
surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.
They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to
devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just as
the free market dictates, just like people do when disaster hits
free-market Third World countries.
It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual
pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal
outcome for the entire society. This is the way the invisible hand works
There would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as
occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island
last year, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen
committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.3 million
people, more than 10 percent of the country's population, with not a
single life lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the
On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already
clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of American lives had been lost
in New Orleans. Many people had "refused" to evacuate, media reporters
explained, because they were just plain "stubborn."
It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters
began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee
because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With
hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had
to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not
work so well for them.
Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer
numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had
jobs before Katrina's lethal visit. That's what most poor people do in
this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs,
sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they're
lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while
burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.
The free market played a role in other ways. Bush's agenda is to cut
government services to the bone and make people rely on the private
sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from
the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent
reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of
pumping out water had to be shelved.
Bush took to the airways and said that no one could have foreseen this
disaster. Just another lie tumbling from his lips. All sorts of people
had been predicting disaster for New Orleans, pointing to the need to
strengthen the levees and the pumps, and fortify the coastlands.
In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite
reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands.
Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of
things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise
outcomes that would benefit us all.
But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New
Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years
now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the
Gulf' coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the
As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief
to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It
was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that "private
charity can do the job." And for the first few days that indeed seemed
to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into
action. Its message: "Don't send food or blankets; send money."
Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network---taking
a moment off from God's work of pushing John Roberts nomination to the
Supreme Court---called for donations and announced "Operation Blessing"
which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment
of canned goods and bibles.
By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure
of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not
arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than
with rescuing people. It was property before people, just like the free
marketeers always want.
But questions arose that the free market did not seem capable of
answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few
helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it
take helicopters five hours to get six people out of one hospital? When
would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The
state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the
shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water?
Where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the
$33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? Even ABC-TV evening news
(September 1, 2005) quoted local officials as saying that "the federal
government's response has been a national disgrace."
In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of
foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany and several other nations.
Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for
the victims. Predictably, all these proposals were quickly refused by
the White House. America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme
Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity
could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating
and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch
in the nose?
Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the
truth---that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the
decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most
extreme straits. Next thing you know, people would start thinking that
George W. Bush was really nothing more than a fulltime agent of
Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and
The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in
paperback. His forthcoming The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press)
will be published in the fall. For more information visit:
American Genocide in New Orleans
by Kirsten Anderberg Friday, Sep. 02, 2005 at 1:15 AM
firstname.lastname@example.org Seattle, Wa
I was seriously hoping that I would not have to write this article. But it has been too long now, and I have to say something.
Regardless of whether the deaths en masse of poor black folks in New Orleans is due to neglect or maliciousness, the end result
is constructively a genocide on poor blacks in America, right now, in 2005. The lack of aid to New Orleans at this late hour
(7 pm, Sept. 1) is not explicable. I have only one explanation that I can muster up. And that explanation is classism and
The reality is these refugees in New Orleans right now were already poor, so that tells you how much the government cared
about them BEFORE this disaster. Why would you expect the government to all of a sudden, now, prioritize the group they did
not care about before, to the tune of inadequate health care, inadequate and expensive housing, etc.? So this is not a shock,
I guess, that the American government is apparently going to let poor black Americans die for no apparent reason, right on
the nightly news. They were already not caring about the health of these people, so I guess they are still in that mindset.
Look, New Orleans is not on Mars. I cannot explain why military aircraft carriers, the like we saw during the South Vietnamese
evacuation in the Vietnam War, are not landing in New Orleans and airlifting these folks out. Are they all in Iraq or what?
I also cannot explain why they are not, at the very least, airdropping food and water onto the people in New Orleans, like
they did in Afghanistan after 9/11. These people are literally DYING because America is not doing that! I cannot explain why
they did not evacuate the New Orleans jail until AFTER the disaster, either. The many, many ways that the American government
has now jeopardized the lives of poor black Americans in this Katrina disaster has literally scared me to death, as a poor
person. I feel very strongly that if those were middle class white people stuck in those conditions in New Orleans right now,
that relief would have come days ago. For some reason, just as the cops let L.A. burn in the Rodney King riots, this smells
of racism to me.
New Orleans is not even a day away from the West Coast. I cannot explain why it is taking days to get help to those people
dying down in New Orleans right now. But I remember when I was in the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, that the white middle
class people had all the water they could use from the national guard, while only a few miles to the south, the mostly Hispanic
communities, were standing in lines for hours in the sun to get only 5 gallons of water. My son and I drove up from the San
Fernando Valley into the Santa Clarita Valley in 1994 after the quake collapsed our apartment, after seeing block-long lines
at stores for water and long lines at high schools and parks with National Guard trucks giving out water to anyone with a
5 gallon container. When we hit Santa Clarita, there were cases of bottled water at every I-5 off ramp, with military personnel
just sitting there, waiting for these middle class families to drive up. When I hit the Santa Clarita Red Cross, they also
asked me to take some water off their hands, unloading a few cases of Evian water into my trunk! They had a surplus. I asked
both the military and the Red Cross to please load the water up and drive just a bit over the hill where the water was desperately
needed. And they refused. Maybe that story is a microcosm of what is going on here in New Orleans right now. No one wants
to drive over the hill with supplies?
I cannot explain why there is not at least food and water for the people we are seeing suffering in New Orleans, and
the idea there is no landing strip is not true. I have seen flat lawns with massive people littered on them, I have seen abandoned
highway strips that could sustain a landing, and I am sure if you told the refugees if they move out of the area for the plane
to land, they will be airlifted out, they would cooperate right away!
I have watched insane police hold machine guns to the bodies of mothers carrying clothing out of department stores on
TV news. I saw the cops force the mothers to drop the clothing, with his gun in her chest, and she dropped the clothing, and
it floated away. A pure authoritarian waste. Even Nazi-ish in nature! I saw police allowing their own into stores for food,
but holding the people back from the same luxury, calling poor blacks desperate for food and water "looters" while
the cops do the same exact thing and are NOT called looters. I would assume some cops are gonna die if they keep trying to
act like this. I see America fueling a heavy crisis in New Orleans, then blaming the refugees for getting desperate. Just
as it is in the Middle East, if people were fed by American government, instead of patrolled and pointed at with guns while
hungry, things will be safer for all.
The racist cops of L.A. used the Rodney King riots to validate some kind of weird racist theory that blacks are violent
and riot. But that is bull. The movie "Trading Places" with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd is a beautiful movie about
this idea where you drive someone to desperation then call them criminals. My friend was cleaning pools in Beverly Hills during
the Rodney King riots and she said there was a cop car on every block. But when she got into the lower income areas, a cop
could not be found. So, from my own disaster experiences, I guess the class/caste separation of even disaster rescue in America
is obvious and dominant.
I just told my 21 year old son that he is watching a genocide of people in America right now on TV, as this is what this
feels like to me. I have heard NO logical argument as to how on earth those people could still be stranded in New Orleans.
It is not Mars. This is ridiculous. And it has become obvious this delayed response in New Orleans is fueled by classism and
racism, unless the U.S. government can spit out some logical explanation, but I have not heard one yet. New Orleans is a scene
of constructive genocide right now on America's poor blacks, and I do not know how Americans are just sitting quietly as they
watch this on TV. I am out of my mind about this right now. Just out of my damned mind. I have never hated GWBush more, and
I have never seen a better living example of classism and racism alive in America today. According to resources in Canada,
Canadian TV is reporting they offered planes full of food, water, and supplies to help New Orleans refugees and America turned
them down! Again, I wish I did not have to write this article. And I hope I am wrong in this conclusion. But again, I have
waited days now for logical answers from the U.S. government and it appears those answers are not coming!
Hurricane Katrina blows away the careful facade painted about America by Hollywood, CNN, McDonalds, the New York Times
and the token U.S. Black football and celebrity elites to reveals the U.S to itself...
A fews ways to help the Black community directly
Posts in this e-mail:
- Malik Rahim interview
- Kanye West on video: "They've given them permission to go down and kill us....George Bush doesn't care about Black
- Losing New Orleans by John Maxwell
- Cuban President Fidel Castro Offers 1100 Doctors to Aid Victims of Devastating Hurricane Katrina
- 'This is criminal': Malik Rahim reports from New Orleans by Malik Rahim
- An idea from Christian, Sept. 2, 2005
- Pocc_international - Community Advisory - A few ways to help the Black Community directly
HLLN Note: This Malik Rahim interview is heart breaking, but important to listen to. To quote the great John Maxwell (See
below "Losing New Orleans")- "Suddenly, the hurricane has blown away the facade of Hollywood, CNN and McDonalds
and revealed an America, in living colour and dire destitution, which they had never imagined."
An interview by DJ Lotus with Malik Rahim, former member of the Black Panther Party, who is currently in New Orleans,
audio: MP3 at 16.9 mebibytes, 33 minutes
In the interview Malik speaks of white vigilante groups driving around town shooting black people, but also of "heroism"
by other whites in the city. He also points out that in his estimate, 70% of the rescues so far have been by individuals,
not by the government. He encourages people to organize and help the homeless in their own cities, because people from New
Orleans are being displaced all over the country.
More info http://neworleans.indymedia.org
This article at http://radio.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/6584.php
Kanye West: "They've given them permission to go down and kill us....George Bush doesn't care about Black people."
HLLN Note: This video is interesting. Mike Meyers co-hosts with Kanye West a Red Cross promo. Kayne West decides not to
follow the written script. He manages to say"They've given them permission to go down and kill us" and "George
Bush doesn't care about Black people" just seconds before NBC abruptly cuts away from them asap. But it got in during
the live broadcast anyway.
Kanye West: "George Bush doesn't care about Black people
Kanye West: "They've given them permission to go down and kill us"
To provide housing to victims:
Other HLLN links on the New Orleans disaster:
Losing New Orleans
New Orleans was , I'm told, a place of myth and magic a place where moral, ethnic and social certitudes evaporated, where
the only reality was the city itself. It was a world city, a place apart from the United States, embedded in it, but breathing
an atmosphere richly distilled by centuries of separation from the mainstream of the Protestant, puritan, Anglo-Saxon United
States. It was a place of French and Caribbean and black culture, history and folklore. It was the American interface with
the Third World.
Last week we lost New Orleans. At least the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, thinks we should
lose New Orleans.
Its not worth rebuilding, he said, it should be bulldozed.
Even if he's wrong, the old New Orleans is gone.
Even the Louis Armstrong International Airport was under water, along with thousands of houses and the people who lived
in them. Most were simply to poor to escape Hurricane Katrina, inevitable victims of a disaster long foretold, predicted and
According to Professor Paul Krugman in the New York Times
"Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America:
a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans
hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described
a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening."
The New York Times quotes Eric Tolbert, formerly a top official of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - FEMA.
According to Tolbert, FEMA officials, having just returned from helping in last December's Tsunami relief, drew up a list
of probable disasters in the United States:
"New Orleans was the No. 1 disaster we were talking about, We were obsessed with New Orleans because of the risk."
But FEMA and all the other agencies of the US government were caught flatfooted by Hurricane Katrina. It wasn't because
they hadn't drawn up plans, or because they hadn't rehearsed what they would do in case their fears came to pass. It was because
the Federal government had downsized
FEMA and had, over the last five years, refused to heed New Orleans' pleas for money to defend the city against exactly
such a natural disaster.
The National Guard which would have been among the first responders, is largely in Iraq, fighting a war they were not
Disasters have many layers. Physical destruction and the consequent disruptions are one part. There are also the psychological,
social, political and economic disruptions which follow. Natural disasters become catastrophes when human beings don't act
intelligently or in time.
Twenty-five years ago, when Hurricane Allen seemed headed for Jamaica's south coast and specifically for Portmore, I was
one of a group which convinced the Prime Minister to come to our assistance in an emergency movement of about 50,000 people
from low-lying Portmore within about fourteen hours. At the time we were in the throes of planning what later
became the Office of Disaster Preparedness . Most of what we managed to do was seat of the pants improvisation. But had
the hurricane struck Portmore we would have saved the lives of thousands of people.
New Orleans had much more warning and many thousands were evacuated. But most of the people in New Orleans were too poor
to arrange their own evacuation. They stayed behind because no one had thought to prepare for their problems.
But the catastrophe now developing in New Orleans has been years in the making and most of it is directly attributable
to the idea that man can tame nature and that ?development? consists in putting down capital intensive works without considering
other factors, like the weather, the geography and geology and most of all, the people.
The point of sustainable development is to increase economic
prosperity while making sure that the benefits gained do not get wiped out by foreseeable hazards.. In New Orleans, greed
and capital prevailed over common sense.
When New Orleans was first settled nearly three centuries ago, the land on which it was built was ten feet above sea level.
Today it is about ten feet below. The reasons are fairly simple. The city is built on land formed by the Mississippi river,
part of its delta and like Portmore, (on the RRio Cobre delta) much of it is underlain by peat which is infinitely compressible.
When water is abstracted from peat, the land above it sinks. Further, the federal government in an attempt to tame the Mississippi,
has tried to force it to behave like a gully, constructing, restricting and redirecting its flow so that the river no longer
nourishes the watertable underneath the city as it did when
the city was younger and sat more lightly on its foundations.
Beyond the physical disaster is the human calamity.. The US Congress is giving express passage to a bill providing more
than 10 billion dollars for emergency relief, about twice as much as ha been requested to shore up the defences of New Orleans
and, possibly, moderate the effects of what is now estimated to be a 28 billion dollar disaster.
Meanwhile, the people on the ground in New Orleans are angry, the officials as well as the ordinary citizens. Law and
order no longer exists as desperate people take the law into their own hands to ensure their own survival.
On Thursday night the city's Mayor, Roy Nagin told a television
interviewer "I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. This is a national disaster. This
is a major, major, major deal.
And I can't emphasize it enough. It's awful down here, man."
Of President Bush he said:
"We have an incredible crisis here and his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice.
"Excuse my French - everybody in America - but I am pissed."
New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert called the situation a national disgrace, "We can send massive
amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."
New Orleans is the largest area of disaster, but there are others scattered through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Stories abound of people waiting in miles -long lines for hours for gasoline, water or ice. Worse were the stories from
the Superdome, which has been sheltering thousands of people driven from their homes: people dying, women and children being
raped, and outside, human bodies rotting on the flooded streets. Four days after the disaster there was no organised assistance
The psychological toll will be enormous. In places like Jamaica more accustomed to natural calamities, people may be a
little more tolerant of official delay. But in the United States where food comes out of a supermarket or a take-out restaurant,
life is more complicated.
The poorer you are, the more complicated it gets . And in New Orleans and Biloxi and most of the affected areas, the poor,
the ones left behind, are overwhelmingly black.
In neighbouring Mississippi black people earn half as much as white people,
Race is becoming the fulcrum for criticism of the government.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said cities had been dismissed by the Bush administration because Mr. Bush received few urban votes.
"Many black people feel that their race, their property conditions and their voting patterns have been a factor in
the response, I'm not saying that myself, but what's self-evident is that you have many poor people without a way out."
A vignette: Two photographs; one from Associated Press captioned A young man walks through waist deep water after looting
a grocery store - the other from Agence france Presse: Two residents walk through waist deep water after finding bread and
soda from a local grocery store: The AP photo was of a black man.
The authorities have agreed on a shoot to kill policy against looters.
Mr Bush approves. He condemned looting and profiteering yesterday. It is not known whether profiteers will be shot.
Professor Krugman suggests that "At a fundamental level, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the
essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or
spending on preventive measures. "
Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had
been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.
"So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing
its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying".
Europeans have been stunned by the America revealed by Katrina. Suddenly, the hurricane has blown away the facade of Hollywood,
CNN and McDonalds and revealed an America, in living colour and dire destitution, which they had never imagined.
Others outside of the United States watch in fascinated horror, as things fall apart in the country whose leader has proclaimed
it his mission to "spread democracy".
Is this, they ask, what democracy looks like?
'This is criminal': Malik Rahim reports from New Orleans
by Malik Rahim
[Note: Malik Rahim, a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans, for decades an organizer of public housing tenants
both there and in San Francisco and a recent Green Party candidate for New Orleans City Council, lives in the Algiers neighborhood,
the only part of New Orleans that is not flooded. They have no power, but the water is still good and the phones work. Their
neighborhood could be sheltering and feeding at least 40,000 refugees, he says, but they are allowed to help no one. What
he describes is nothing less than deliberate genocide against Black and poor people.]
New Orleans, Sept. 1, 2005 -- It's criminal. From what you're hearing, the people trapped in New Orleans are nothing but
looters. We're told we should be more "neighborly." But nobody talked about being neighborly until after the people
who could afford to leave -- left.
If you ain't got no money in America, you're on your own. 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.
I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they had no warning, but here there was plenty of
warning. In the three days before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have been evacuated.
We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated
20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater - they just wouldn't move them,
afraid they'd be stolen.
People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what they own that they just let it all be flooded.
They could have let a family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left it behind to be destroyed.
There are gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup trucks, all of them armed, and any young Black they
see who they figure doesn't belong in their community, they shoot him. I tell them, "Stop! You're going to start a riot."
When you see all the poor people with no place to go, feeling alone and helpless and angry, I say this is a consequence
of HOPE VI. New Orleans took all the HUD money it could get to tear down public housing, and families and neighbors who'd
relied on each other for generations were uprooted and torn apart.
Most of the people who are going through this now had already lost touch with the only community they'd ever known. Their
community was torn down and they were scattered. They'd already lost their real homes, the only place where they knew everybody,
and now the places they've been staying are destroyed.
But nobody cares. They're just lawless looters ... dangerous.
The hurricane hit at the end of the month, the time when poor people are most vulnerable. Food stamps don't buy enough
but for about three weeks of the month, and by the end of the month everyone runs out. Now they have no way to get their food
stamps or any money, so they just have to take what they can to survive.
Many people are getting sick and very weak. From the toxic water that people are walking through, little scratches and
sores are turning into major wounds.
People whose homes and families were not destroyed went into the city right away with boats to bring the survivors out,
but law enforcement told them they weren't needed. They are willing and able to rescue thousands, but they're not allowed
Every day countless volunteers are trying to help, but they're turned back. Almost all the rescue that's been done has
been done by volunteers anyway.
My son and his family - his wife and kids, ages 1, 5 and 8 - were flooded out of their home when the levee broke. They
had to swim out until they found an abandoned building with two rooms above water level.
There were 21 people in those two rooms for a day and a half. A guy in a boat who just said "I'm going to help regardless"
rescued them and took them to Highway I-10 and dropped them there.
They sat on the freeway for about three hours, because someone said they'd be rescued and taken to the Superdome. Finally
they just started walking, had to walk six and a half miles.
When they got to the Superdome, my son wasn't allowed in - I don't know why - so his wife and kids wouldn't go in. They
kept walking, and they happened to run across a guy with a tow truck that they knew, and he gave them his own personal truck.
When they got here, they had no gas, so I had to punch a hole in my gas tank to give them some gas, and now I'm trapped.
I'm getting around by bicycle.
People from Placquemine Parish were rescued on a ferry and dropped off on a dock near here. All day they were sitting
on the dock in the hot sun with no food, no water. Many were in a daze; they've lost everything.
They were all sitting there surrounded by armed guards. We asked the guards could we bring them water and food. My mother
and all the other church ladies were cooking for them, and we have plenty of good water.
But the guards said, "No. If you don't have enough water and food for everybody, you can't give anything." Finally
the people were hauled off on school buses from other parishes.
You know Robert King Wilkerson (the only one of the Angola 3 political prisoners who's been released). He's been back
in New Orleans working hard, organizing, helping people. Now nobody knows where he is. His house was destroyed. Knowing him,
I think he's out trying to save lives, but I'm worried.
The people who could help are being shipped out. People who want to stay, who have the skills to save lives and rebuild
are being forced to go to Houston.
It's not like New Orleans was caught off guard. This could have been prevented.
There's military right here in New Orleans, but for three days they weren't even mobilized. You'd think this was a Third
I'm in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, the only part that isn't flooded. The water is good. Our parks and schools
could easily hold 40,000 people, and they're not using any of it.
This is criminal. These people are dying for no other reason than the lack of organization.
Everything is needed, but we're still too disorganized. I'm asking people to go ahead and gather donations and relief
supplies but to hold on to them for a few days until we have a way to put them to good use.
I'm challenging my party, the Green Party, to come down here and help us just as soon as things are a little more organized.
The Republicans and Democrats didn't do anything to prevent this or plan for it and don't seem to care if everyone dies.
Malik's phone is working. He welcomes calls from old friends and anyone with questions or ideas for saving lives. To reach
him, call the Bay View at (415) 671-0789.
The Untold Story of Katrinas' Aftermath
By Malkia A. Cyril
Katrina has been called a disaster of biblical proportions. And
it is. But the disaster is not confined to weather. The loss of
life is being compounded by the frightening political decision
to withhold rescue services from survivors and instead focus
on fighting crime. It seems that Katrina has not only
uprooted homes and trees, but also uncovered the stark truth
about race in Louisiana. Racial injustice in New Orleans is on
fire. And the news coverage of Katrina is fanning the flames.
Over 1 million people with the means to leave fled before the
storm, but nearly 150,000 were left behind, trapped by poverty
and neglected by disaster plans. Those who got out were
mostly affluent and white. Those left behind were not. They
represented the poorest 15-20% of New Orleans population
and were predominately black. This is not simply the result of
a natural disaster. This is the consequence of human
decisions about who deserves to live and who should be left
to die. And the death toll is still rising. Survivors are floating
in stagnant debris-filled water, huddled in attics or on rooftops.
More than 60,000 people have gathered at the Superdome
stadium for evacuation and remain there in increasingly
horrific conditions. One man couldnt bear it and jumped to
his death. In the aftermath of this natural disaster, relief
efforts are being hindered by racial mistreatment and racist
decisions that are as dangerous as any storm.
Emergency systems and disaster protocol must put life above
law. And yet, when it comes to the lives of blacks and poor
people in the aftermath of Katrina, looting is the leading
headline. Interestingly, in the face of absolute tragedy,
President Bushs message is about zero tolerance for crime
and not about encouraging and applauding the humanity of
those helping each other to live. There is no question that
survival is the primary issue of the day. And yet Reuters
reported that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered police to
suspend rescue efforts and arrest people instead. Louisiana
Governor Kathleen Blanco told reporters that she will use the
12,500 National Guard troops in or en route to New Orleans to
bring law and order to the area, and not to continue rescuing
survivors. Officials have either ceased or redirected the relief
and evacuation efforts of the Red Cross, FEMA, local police
and the National Guard. Black and poor residents of New
Orleans are paying for this decision with their lives.
While the decision to arrest people for trying to survive seems
misplaced, it could have something to do with the news
coverage of Katrina, which has been saturated with
descriptions of blacks chest-deep in water looting food, while
referring to whites in virtually the same circumstances as
survivors finding food. Or perhaps it is because almost no
news outlets have even mentioned the demographics of those
left behind or raised life and death questions about how
evacuation plans, search and rescue operations, relief
distribution, and emergency care are being influenced by race.
Where were the resources and political will that would have
prevented this tragedy from reaching such deadly proportions?
In the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster, the media
can expose the racism and help prevent the man-made
disaster at hand? Even CBS reported that in one
neighborhood the police helped homeless survivors
carry stolen supplies from Walmart to another area that had
been hit harder. Across the country concerned communities
are demanding that the arrests for so-called looting should
cease and search and rescue efforts should continue
unhindered, that all resources should be used to evacuate
survivors immediately, and people should be provided with
clean water and food. Not everyone agrees that
your race or income should determine whether you survive the
Cuba offers help to U.S.
Cuban President Fidel Castro Offers 1100 Doctors to Aid Victims of Devastating Hurricane Katrina
Here is what Radio Havana Cuba wrote on the Cuban leader's offer:
Cuban President Fidel Castro Offers 1100 Doctors to Aid Victims of Devastating Hurricane Katrina
Havana, September 2 (RHC)-Cuban President Fidel Castro has announced that 100 doctors are ready to leave early Saturday
morning to Houston, Texas to assist the victims of devastating Hurricane Katrina.
A second group of 500 Cuban doctors are also ready to depart to the US on Saturday afternoon and a third group of 500
physicians Sunday morning with 24 kilograms of medicine and the necessary diagnostic resources each to assist emergency situations.
The 1100 medical specialists have international experience and knowledge of Basic English to assist the patients that
have been seriously affected by the powerful hurricane, said the Cuban Head of State.
The Cuban President is informing the population on the current situation in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama
according to information reported by different main stream US media.
President Fidel Castro announced that the Government sent a letter of condolences to the families of the victims of Hurricane
Katrina on August 30th through diplomatic channels. The Cuban Parliament also sent their condolences on Wednesday to the relatives
of the victims of the powerful hurricane that has devastated Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Hurricane Katrina hit Florida on August 25th, went to the Gulf of Mexico, gathered strength and later entered Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama with Category 4.
There are currently over 50 thousand people that have lost their homes and belongings. There is still no official figure
of dead people or material damage.
Also present on Friday's Round Table is Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and other government officials
An Idea From Christian, Sept. 2, 2005
An idea to start communications: Volunteers, registered with the army,
wearing large IDs and bright blue jackets/shirts & caps to make sure
soldiers and cops can tell them apart, as well as being visible to the
people who need them- go to the places where crowds are, to take
messages, which they then take to functioning computers-or use lap tops
on site- or use cell messages- and send these messages out. Other
volunteers elsewhere check the network and take messages to the people
in other parts of the city. The key is the distinct ID through blue
colored jacket/shirt with large letters: COMM and a large photo ID (
Do not use orange or yellow - to stay away from police or fire/rescue
The point is to be accepted by officials/soldiers to move around
freely - and to be seen by people who are looking for family or help.
Ideally they could have vehicles in a bright blue with strong yellow
letters and a bright blue flag on the antenna, or something that sticks
up above crowd level.
This is assuming that cell phones are unavailable or out.
Glad that Bill is OK!
Community Advisory - A few ways to help the Black Community directly
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2005 12:31:31 EDT
Subject:[Pocc_international] Relief Efforts(9/1)for Hurricane Katrina Victims
Sisters & Brothers
As many thousands of Black people, African people evacuate the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans many are coming
to Houston with literally the clothes on their backs. Thousands are here staying with family members/friends, others in over
20 shelters at church's etc. and many thousands at the Houston Astrodome. Families, local media, artist and community groups
are stepping forward in this emergency migration of people. As we are aware the major relief agencies are providing aid,
however the level of need is so great grassroots groups must and are coming forward. Houston as one of the largest major
cities closest to New Orleans and having strong family ties to the entire state of Lousianna must come forward to help our
people. We are calling on our communities across the country for help to meet this need! More people are coming and are not
likely to return to New Orleans anytime soon. The following are grassroots organizations and activities taking place in Ho
uston, Texas for relief and aid. These are only some of the furry of activies taking place, these groups have a proven
track record of consistent work in our communities.
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY! Some groups/efforts need volunteers call them directly.
Friday, September 2, 2005 9pm - Until
Candy Lady Comedy Club
Houston, Texas 77004
SOS RADIO Featuring ZIN, SAVVY & MORE
$7.00 Cover all proceeds after expenses go to aid efforts
Collecting non-perishable food items, toilitries, medical supplies, pampers, clothes
Coordinating with similar relief efforts in Florida to support Houston displaced persons Hurricane Katrina
Saturday, September 3, 2005
Nation of Islam Muhammad Mosque #45
4443 Old Spanish Trail
Houston, Texas 77231-1715
non-perishable food items, toilitries, medical supplies, pampers, clothes, linens
Beginning 8:00am throughout the day
11:00am Millions More Movement LOC meet to caravan to shelters
MONETARY Contributions Made To: A.C.T.I.O.N. CDC Memo Line Hurricane Relief
Shrine of the Black Madonna Pan African Orthodox Christian Church
Currently Housing, Feeding 150 displaced people
Make Donations To: PAOCC In Memo Line Hurricane Relief
5317 M.L. King Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77021
New Black Panther Party - Houston Chapter
Krystal Muhammad Chapter Chair Person currently coordinatingsupporting 50 family members displaced in different parts
of Houston & Texas. Gearing up to offer housing, food etc. to other displaced persons.
2812 Live Oak
Houston, Texas 77004
Contribtuions To: New Black Panther Party, Memo Line Hurricane Relief
S.H.A.P.E. Community Center
3815 Live Oak
Houston, Texas 77004
Open Monday thru Friday 8:00am-6:00pm & Saturday's call first
drop off non-perishable food items, toilitries, medical supplies, pampers, clothes, linens
working on providing housing need funds to get electricity turned on in units
Contribution To: S.H.A.P.E. Community Center Memo Line Hurricane Relief
St. Peter Clavier Catholic Church
Currently Sheltering, Feeding over 300 displaced persons
Church were organizing activities took place for Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham)
Contact info TBA
New Black Panther Nation
Providing Housing and Aid
Contact info TBA
Reknowned Poet Activist Kalaamu Ya Salaam & family staying with family in Houston
Need Monetary Assistance, NBUF-Houston is seeking to make direct contact with him to provide assistance.
"if you are in a position to help, i have one request: i need work: speaking engagements, lectures, readings, short
term residencies, writing assignments. please contact me via email:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org"
If you wish to send contributions to NBUF- Houston earmarked for Hurricane Relief we will insure that funds/assistance
gets directly to one or more of the above mentioned efforts and/or directly to those in need.
National Black United Front -Houston Chapter (NBUF)
2428 Southmore Blvd.
Houston, Texas 77004
Contributions To: NBUF memo line Hurricane Relief
Community Meeting Every Monday Night 7:00pm
Dr. Imari Obadele & Sister Johnita Scott-Obadele (RNA & NCOBRA) living in Baton Rouge, LA are okay. Not much damage
in city. Evacuation has placed many people in city. Refute scattered reports that prisoners have taken over prison.
Chairman National Black United Front-Houston Chapter
PAN-AFRICAN ASSOCIATIONS OF AMERICA (PAAA)
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 3:48 PM
Subject: The New Orleans tradedy: An African tragedy by Kush
I am usually not one to play the race card every time something goes wrong for African people. In fact I have a tendency
to encourage Africans to find the solutions to their troubles themselves and not expect it to come outside of our race. But
in regard to the recent tragedy in Louisiana and Mississippi, I cannot help but notice how segregated America still is. You
would think that after slavery and the civil rights era, racism is only water that runs deep but just like the waters of the
Mississippi river it can overflow and flood our lives.
Many people around the world are shocked to notice on their TV that they can hardly see a white person among the survivors
and refugees of the tragedy. To paraphrase one of the victims: "you would think that this is the third world." These
images are reminiscent of what we usually see of Africa, Haiti and such. Even European countries are wondering how the "richest
nation in the world" can run out of options so quickly in the face of tradegy to the point that anarchy can take place.
Again, we are seeing images of angry, hungry black folks looting, and we can imagine the comments in most white homes: "you
see how they behave..." Many people are shocked to see how slow relief is to come in those areas. It reminds us that
the "greatness of America" is something that Africans in America occasionally benefit form only by accident or in
the case of tokenism as an investment towards white power. We see that America has not prepared to save us from tragedy. Africans
have gotten comfo
rtable in the belief that because they live in America, they are safer than most Africans in the motherland. Tragedies
like this one show us that you may be born in New Orleans, Jamaica or South Africa, when tragedy strikes we are the hardest
hit because Africans are the poorest no matter where they live. Places like Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi are nothing
but African countries that happen to be on the American continent. Even after several hundred years, they still bear the African
I hope this is a wake up call for all of us watching our brothers and sisters die that we should not wait for tragedy
to hit before we wake up. While our sports celebrities, movie stars and singers flash their lavish lifestyles on BET, the
vast majority of us live below the poverty line. If we separate ourselves from them in this middle/upper class illusion we
can be awaken suddenly and tragically any day.
Don't give up the fight!
Kush, a brother form Ivory Coast
PAN-AFRICAN ASSOCIATIONS OF AMERICA (PAAA) Comments on the Disaster of New Orleans | Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005
Subject: Comments on the Disaster of New Orleans
PAN-AFRICAN ASSOCIATIONS OF AMERICA FORWARD
PAAA Note: We just want to remind everyone that while the cameras are on New Orleans, African people have suffered the
same level of devastattion and homelessness in Mississippi, Alabama and even in the pan-handle of Florida. While we have avoided
the issue of race and class in America in the pursuit of the individual American Dream, nature has revealed the truth of the
issue in New Orleans which represents every major urban area in the United States in addition to all of the small places where
African people are just surviving in the shadows of the American Dream. While we do need to react immediately to the current
disaster, it is also important to understand what this means in terms of the unwritten polices of the free market and governmental
policies that puts billions of dollars into the Iraq war, sends African sons and daughters to die in another country while
their loved ones die and are displaced by those same polices of white male supremacy.
* Donate towards buses sponsored by Michigan Legislative Black Caucus
A proposed plan to save lives in New Orleans from Freya A. Rivers - "National Plan for Emergency Relief for New Orleans'
Since the magnitude of the problem appears to overwhelm all of the national agencies, I am proposing this "National
Plan for Emergency Relief for New Orleans' Families."
First - The President needs to declare a national state of emergency for the next five days to move all the residents
out of New Orleans to shelters across the United States.
Second - Pay Baton Rouge School Board $200,000 for 5 days for the use of their school buses to shuttle people from
the city of New Orleans to Louis Armstrong International Airport. ($1million)
Third - Have the huge military transport planes waiting with water, food, wipes, etc., and board 5-10,000 people to
take to 10 major cities with enclosed dome facilities.
Fourth - Ask or persuade the NFL to delay their season by a month or play their games in University stadiums while
the people are placed in permanent-temporary homes.
Fifth - Pay the domes $30 million for a month of use.
Sixth - Pay the city of the domes $50 million for meals, medical services and placement of the people being brought
to their city. The faster they are able to place people in permanent-temporary housing, the more money the city keeps for
their own infrastructure.
Seventh - Pay every adult (18 and older) Federal unemployment for the time that they are displaced or become employed.
(Money going back to the cities while giving people a sense of humanness again) People that were working automatically deserve
the pay since they are unemployed or were receiving state aid. It needs to be Federal since 1 million people would devastate
the whole state of Louisiana.
Eighth - Every child from 4 - 18 years of age will receive a $10,000 school voucher to take to the school or district
in which they reside. Since New Orleans will not be having school this year, their federal dollars should follow them.
Ninth - Establish teams in each dome to facilitate banking, receiving SS or unemployment, finding family and love ones,
and placement in housing, jobs and schools.
Tenth - For every city that establishes shelters and houses the people of New Orleans, there will be a payment of $100
per person per day until the person begins to receive SS or unemployment and is housed in a permanent-temporary apartment
The Senate just passed a $10 billion for New Orleans. The money should go to the people as reparations for not securing
the levee and pumping systems of New Orleans. This money will also help the cities to which the people are going by putting
money in that economy instead of draining the resources of the cities that are trying to help. Instead of the militia to
kill, we can return dignity and respect. Anyone can turn violent when life is threatened with thirst and starvation. The
few thugs that are creating havoc will spread as mob violence across the country if we don't do something to give people a
chance to live and prosper. It's time to act and stop meeting for political posturing while people are dying. If FEMA, Homeland
Security, Red Cross and others can't organize this catastrophe, I can. We need to mobilize this Saturday morning to save
the lives of the citizens of New Orleans. Please help them now. Write or call your congressperson and ask them to supp
ort the plan. Call member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Call members of your state legislature. http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/
Do it now!
Freya A. Rivers
Freya A. Rivers
3863 Waverly Hills
Lansing, MI 48917
517-373-1997 Office of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus
Hope CBC reps are Addressing the Incompetence (email@example.com)
I hope our Congressional Black Caucus members are addressing the incompetence that our federal government has been displaying
during the hurricane disaster. I am positive that our government would have reacted immediately had thousands of white people
been stranded at the Super Dome or on highways.
As a former Air Force officer, I know that we have the capability to rapidly build airports, conduct airdrops, set up
portable living quarters, etc. in horrid combat areas. Why were these activities not implemented immediately following the
aftermath of Katrina. We as Blacks continue to be a last priority on the federal government's list. At this point, we need
a compassionate domestic president not a wartime president.
The International Action Center is holding nationally coordinated local demonstrations starting tomorrow in NYC at Times
Square at 5pm to demand Bush act now to provide the necessary relief to New Orleans.
Here in Los Angeles we will be holding a demonstration next week to correspond with other IAC chapters nationwide. Please
call for further information or to volunteer to help build these actions. We will be demanding that the federal government
supply all resources necessary be sent to the people of New Orleans, including resources currently being wasted for war or
occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Palestine. Without our demands being made loud and clear this will not happen.
Following is a statement from the IAC:
The Hurricane and Bush's Criminal Negligence:
Bush Slashed Flood Protection
Bush sent emergency personnel and equipment to Iraq
Bush's role in global warming Oil Profiteering
Bush failed to develop an evacuation plan
No emergency relief program, even now
Statement from the International Action Center
September 1, 2005--With every hour that passes, we see and hear new stories of the horror and devastation in the wake
of Hurricane Katrina. What makes these images more shocking is the realization that much of the death and destruction could
have been prevented.
Almost all of the death and destruction arising from the hurricane is the direct result of criminal neglect by the Bush
Administration. This crisis was predicted in numerous reports and news articles and little, if anything, was done.
While natural disasters are beyond our control, the preparation for expected and predicted disasters is something that
we can control. Natural disasters do not have to be catastrophes if plans are made in advance to protect people and their
homes, but these plans were not made.
We cannot discuss the effects of this catastrophe without noting that those who have suffered most are people of color.
Seventy percent of New Orleans' residents are Black, as are a major part of the population of the surrounding area affected
by the hurricane. The fact that absolutely no preparations were made for their evacuation, that no thought was given to
meeting their basic emergency needs in the wake of the storm, and that even now they have been abandoned and ignored by
the government, lays bare the racism at the core of U.S. society and at the heart of the policies of George W. Bush. The
criminal negligence displayed by all levels of government preceding and during this crisis sends a clear message that, to
those in power, the lives of poor people, especially poor Black people, are of absolutely no concern.
President Bush has diverted funds that were needed to prepare for this type of natural disaster to fund a war of conquest
in Iraq. He did this despite being warned of the potential for danger by FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) as
early as 2001. The Houston Chronicle reported on Dec. 1, 2001: "New Orleans is sinking. And its main buffer from a hurricane,
the protective Mississippi River delta, is quickly eroding away, leaving the historic city perilously close to disaster.
...So vulnerable, in fact, that earlier this year the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to
New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."
The Bush Administration knew of the danger and they knew how to prepare for it. But they chose to do little or nothing
– they actually slashed funding for preventative and emergency measures, leaving the people of the region helpless
to deal with the inevitable disaster. Now, with the destruction of New Orleans and numerous surrounding communities, tens
of thousands of people are without food, water, or electricity. Thousands of homes are destroyed and the death toll continues
This is a disaster of unprecedented proportion. It is poor and working people, particularly people of color, who are
suffering the most from this disaster.
It was clear from watching the disaster unfold that no real plans had been made for evacuating the region, even though
everyone, including Federal authorities and meteorologists, knew that a hurricane of enormous magnitude was descending on
For the elderly, the handicapped, the poor, there was no provision for evacuation or shelter. It was "everyone for
themselves," and those who didn't have the ability to flee or the means to finance their own evacuation were left to
perish. There were no arrangements for more than 100,000 people in New Orleans - 20 % of the population and overwhelmingly
the poorest part of the population. Those with out cars, credit cards, and hotel reservations had few alternatives but to
stay home and face the coming deluge. The death toll continues to mount, and it becomes more and more apparent how little
the government is concerned for human life, particularly the lives of poor and working people.
There were many obvious things that could have and should have been done if the government were concerned about the lives
of the people. Trains, airlines, buses, and other transportation could have been put to use evacuating people. Convention
centers, hotels, and college dormitories throughout the region could have been used for shelter. The government uses eminent
domain to take working people's property for the benefit of corporate developers; this would have been an excellent opportunity
to use eminent domain in a way that actually benefits people.
Because there was no plan for evacuation, more than 20,000 people were herded into the Superdome without adequate food,
shelter, water, or medical care for days. The New York Times said, "By Wednesday, the stench was staggering. Heaps of
rotting garbage in bulging white plastic bags baked under a blazing Louisiana sun on the main entry plaza, choking new arrivals
as they made their way into the stadium after being plucked off rooftops and balconies. The odor billowing from toilets
was even fouler. Trash spilled across corridors and aisles, slippery with smelly mud and scraps of food."
Videos of the situation (see below) show just how desperate the situation is—people are without food, water,
and medicine .Bodies are piling up on the streets. The people have been absolutely abandoned by the government.
Only massive immediate Federal intervention can relieve the situation. The government has access to stockpiles of food
and medicines and it has cargo planes and helicopters to deliver them. Yet the Administration has chosen not to act while
people are dying.
Slashing emergency preparations to fund war and tax cuts for the wealthy
Knowing that a hurricane of this strength was eventually inevitable, the Bush Administration slashed the budget of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the area by $71.2 million. This cut eliminated hurricane and flood protection projects as
well as a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane. This cut was part of the Bush policy
of slashing essential programs to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy and for the occupation of Iraq.
Comparing the cuts of more than $71 million for flood protection to the $1.7 billion taken from the people of Louisiana
for the war in Iraq yields one more example of how the Bush policy of endless war endangers the population here.
The Aug. 30 Editor and Publisher revealed that $250 million in crucial projects planned by the Army Corps of Engineers
in the delta for shoring up levees and building pumping stations could not be carried out. "The Corps never tried to
hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security—coming at the same
time as federal tax cuts—was the reason for the strain.
"The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring
with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history."
Emergency Specialists and Equipment sent to Iraq
The National Guard, who would normally be deployed to aid in evacuation and disaster relief, is unable to respond adequately
because 40% of the Mississippi National Guard 35% of the Louisiana National Guard is in Iraq. So is much of their equipment,
including dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators that are essential to dealing with this type
According to the Washington Post, "With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard
by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday -- calling up Army bands and
water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military."
Many of the members of the National Guard are also emergency medical technicians and firefighters. They should be at
home helping their neighbors recover from this disaster, not in Iraq maintaining an illegal occupation.
Contempt for Environment exacerbates disaster
The flooding is exacerbated by the elimination of wetlands, which provide a natural buffer. The Bush Administration has
removed Federal protection from as much as 20 million acres of wetlands. The Bush Administration has demonstrated utter disregard
for human life and contempt for international law by refusing to abide by the 1997 Kyoto accord, a treaty signed by the
United States and 54 other nations. The agreement is designed to limit emissions that cause global warming.
Sir David King, the British Government's chief scientific adviser, says that global warming may be responsible for the
devastation reaped by Hurricane Katrina. "The increased intensity of hurricanes is associated with global warming.
We have known since 1987 the intensity of hurricanes is related to surface sea temperature and we know that, over the last
15 to 20 years, surface sea temperatures in these regions have increased by half a degree centigrade. So it is easy to conclude
that the increased intensity of hurricanes is associated with global warming."
Loss of life is avoidable – Cuba a U.N. model
The massive loss of life in Louisiana and Mississippi was avoidable, if those making decisions were interested in funding
emergency measures rather than spending money on war and occupation. Cuba lies directly in the path of many hurricanes,
and yet the loss of life is usually minimal, because the government has systems in place to aid orderly evacuations, provide
emergency shelter, and look after the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor.
In 2001, when Hurricane Michelle, a level-4 storm, hit with sustained 125-mile-per-hour winds and widespread floods,
more than 700,000 people were evacuated. Only five Cubans lost their lives in the storm.
In September 2004, Cuba endured Ivan, the fifth-largest hurricane ever to hit the Caribbean, with sustained winds of
124 miles per hour. Cuba evacuated almost 2 million people--more than 15 percent of the total population. One hundred thousand
people were evacuated within the first three hours. An incredible 78 percent of those evacuated were welcomed into other
people's homes. Children at boarding schools were moved. Animals and birds were moved. No one was killed. The UN declared
this to be a model of disaster preparation.
Cuba, a country blockaded and isolated by the U.S. for 45 years has been able to evacuate millions of people in an orderly
fashion without loss of life. Natural disasters do not have to be catastrophes.
Beyond the horrific loss of life and homes in the region, working people everywhere will suffer as the pay more than
$3.00 per gallon for gas, as oil companies rake in record profits. In some places, gas has reached as much as $5.00 per
Releasing oil from the Strategic Oil Reserves could easily offset the loss of oil refineries in the region. Nearly 700
million barrels of oil are stored in underground salt caverns along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. This reserve was
established to cushion oil markets during energy disruptions or other emergencies, and sitting on the oil rather than releasing
it only keeps the price of gas high and ensures greater profits for the oil companies.
While George W. Bush and his friends at the Big Oil companies are growing rich from escalating oil prices, while working
people, who are already suffering from the economic policies of the Bush Administration, have to spend more of their shrinking
paychecks to pay for gas to get to work and school.
Venezuela offers to help while Washington refuses to act
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has demonstrated more concern for working and poor people in the U.S. than George
Bush has. Chavez has announced that Venezuela will be offering poor people discounted gas through its Citgo chain.
He has also offered to send more than $1 million in oil, food, and and equipment to the region. In addition, the Venezuelan
government is offering two mobile hospital units, each capable of assisting 150 people, 120 specialists in rescue operations,
10 water purifying plants, 18 electricity generators of 850 KW each, 20 tons of bottled water, and 50 tons of canned food.
A senior U.S. State Department official said he was not aware of the Venezuelan offer, and then dismissed it as "counterproductive."
The real looting: Bush Administration steals from working people to fund war and corporate greed
Rather than focusing on criminal neglect by the Federal and State governments, the corporate media is reporting that
the real danger is looting. In an attempt to shift blame from the policies of the Bush Administration, the news networks
are demonizing the victims. In a blatant appeal to racism, those being portrayed as "looters" on the news are
without exception black males.
Tens of thousands of poor people have been stranded by a policy of neglect. Many are without food, fresh water, baby
formula, and medicine, and the government has refused to provide even basic relief.
The real looters are not the hungry people taking what they need from an abandoned corporate superstore. The real crime
is that they were left in this situation by a government that puts war and corporate profits ahead of human needs. The
Bush regime has looted billions of dollars of the people's money, slashing programs that provide basic necessities and robbing
from agencies that are tasked with preparing for natural disasters in order to fund a war of conquest against the people
of Iraq. There are dangerous looters, but they are Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, not the poor people of New Orleans trying
to feed their families. It is clear that the Bush Administration is increasingly putting the entire population of the country
in growing danger by relentlessly slashing every social program, infrastructure maintenance program, and environmental protection
Money for Human Needs not War!
It is the Bush Administration, and the Big Corporations it serves, who are directly responsible for the disaster, and
they, not the working people of the region, should be responsible for rebuilding and providing relief. In a speech on Wednesday,
President Bush said, "our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast who have suffered so
much from Hurricane Katrina. "But the people of the region need food, clothing, shelter, and jobs, not hearts and prayers.
He grinned as he said, "Recovery will take years," but offered no plan to assist in that rebuilding. The people
of the area need, and are entitled to, more than empty rhetoric and vacant smiles. The crisis demands a massive national
mobilization to meet emergency needs and facilitate rebuilding efforts. The disaster is beyond the scope of local authorities
or private charities to handle; the Federal government must devote its ample resources, which are now being used to wage
war, to provide immediate and long-term relief.
We call on the Bush Administration to:
Stop funding war and occupation. Use the money instead to fund emergency relief and rebuilding.
Erase the debts incurred by working people who had to pay for gas and emergency shelter because of the government's
refusal to plan for evacuation.
Provide emergency unemployment relief to the tens of thousands who have lost their jobs because of the devastation.
Immediately exercise eminent domain to use all available space to provide emergency and long-term shelter to those
Provide a massive jobs program at union wages for rebuilding. Millions of unemployed workers could be hired to help
construct housing, schools, and other public facilities.
Food, water, clothing, medical supplies, and other necessities should be immediately commandeered for the emergency
from agribusiness, supermarket chains, and pharmaceutical companies. Government food storage supplies in warehouses throughout
the country should be made available immediately.
Watch a video from the Convention Center in New Orleans: "Desperate Struggle" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9156612click
on "Launch" under Free Video
If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities,
and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.