Saturday, September 03, 2005

"The police were in boats...laughing at us"

This article is from the UK Guardian. This is the story that needs to be told. Best summary I've seen so far...and notice how they treat the idea of "looters" and "criminals".


'They're not giving us what we need to survive'

Jamie Doward reports on the fury of New Orleans residents who say they were ignored and mistreated by the authorities

Sunday September 4, 2005
The Observer

Only now, a week after Hurricane Katrina roared across the Deep South, leaving a trail of devastation across America's psyche, is the true story of the Battle of New Orleans emerging.

As convoys of commandeered school buses and Greyhound coaches transported tens of thousands of refugees out of the submerged city yesterday, in a belated and much-criticised relief operation, each vehicle brought with it new tales of horror.

Those trapped inside the two main shelters, the Superdome and the Convention Centre, paint a picture of a city that was subsumed beneath waves of violence, rape and death and accuse the police and National Guard of standing by, ignoring their pleas for help.

The claims are rejected by the federal and state authorities, who instead suggest the looting and lawlessness which followed the extensive flooding of the city was the result of a series of isolated incidents perpetrated by a few.

But it is clear from talking to survivors that what happened in New Orleans last week was far more extensive, bloody and terrifying than the authorities have admitted so far.

'We had to wrap dead people in white sheets and throw them outside while the police stood by and did nothing,' said Correll Williams, a 19-year-old meat cutter from the Crowder Road district in the east of the city, who waded two miles through waist-high water to make it to the Convention Centre after hearing on the radio it was being turned into a refuge.

'The police were in boats watching us. They were just laughing at us. Five of them to a boat, not trying to help nobody. Helicopters were riding by just looking at us. They weren't helping. We were pulling people on bits of wood, and the National Guard would come driving by in their empty military trucks.'

Williams only left his apartment after the authorities took the decision to flood his district in an apparent attempt to sluice out some of the water that had submerged a neighbouring district. Like hundreds of others he had heard the news of the decision to flood his district on the radio. The authorities had given people in the district until 5pm on Tuesday to get out - after that they would open the floodgates.

'We thought we could live without electricity for a few weeks because we had food. But then they told us they were opening the floodgates,' said Arineatta Walker, who fled the area with her daughter and two grandchildren.

'So about two o'clock we went on to the streets and we asked the army, "Where can we go?". And they said, "Just take off because there's no one going to come back for you." They kicked my family out of there. If I knew how to hotwire a car I would have,' Walker said.

Once inside the Convention Centre, Walker confronted a new hell. 'People were being raped, there were cries and screams, there were gunshots, but the police did nothing,' Walker said.

'The police were afraid to do anything,' said Chantelle, a black 22- year-old. 'They wouldn't come in. They took two white guys out one night but left the rest of us in here.'

Williams said: 'The floor was a swamp, you couldn't live in there. The police kept telling us buses were coming but they didn't. People started getting aggravated and then one policeman got mad, he caught an attitude with somebody and they caught an attitude back and started banging on his car, and that's how it started. He called for back-up and the next thing I know the military are down there throwing stun grenades. Everybody started running, bumping into each other, hurting each other.'

As the repeated promises of buses failed to materialise, people in the shelters started stealing cars. 'How do you expect people to act right when they're starving to death?' asked Williams. 'There were bodies all over. We were just throwing them out the front. They (the authorities) are blaming it on the people, making it look like it was the people's fault, but it's really their fault because they're not giving us what we need to survive. So now people are going and getting guns in order to fight back, in order to survive cos they don't want to help us.'

Outside the Convention Centre, where an estimated 15,000 people were seeking refuge, bodies lay ignored. A woman in a wheelchair and an elderly man on a chaise longue could be seen festering in the heat. On Wednesday, eight 11-strong teams from the Louisiana State Police entered the centre, where they were repelled by angry gangs, some of whom were armed. Yesterday scores of police officers were said to have resigned from the force, complaining their jobs had become too dangerous.

Until Friday morning only two buses had arrived at the Convention Centre to transport those inside out of the city, according to several trapped inside. The revelation suggests that the police and National Guard's inability to handle the crisis stemmed from chronic paralysis at the highest levels of the relief operation.

Outside the Superdome, which was at one stage home to some 25,000 people, a member of the National Guard was shot in the leg by his own gun as he was rushed by a crowd angry at the wait for buses to take them to Houston.

The authorities' failure to respond to the situation has prompted outpourings of national revulsion and calls for high-level resignations.

There was confusion yesterday as to why thousands of people had made for the Convention Centre. Officials said it was never intended that the centre be used as a refuge.

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the much-criticised body charged with coordinating the relief effort, told US television networks they had not been aware of the crowds in the centre until Thursday.

'The federal government did not even know about the Convention Centre people until today,' New Orleans major Ray Nagin told CNN on Thursday evening.

The shock confession prompted calls for Brown to be fired. 'That was just a boneheaded statement,' said Mississippi Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson. 'The President will have to change the leadership so that a response this bad will never, never happen again for the American people,' Thompson added.

On Friday evening 1,000 members of the National Guard and 60 police officers arrived outside the centre to restore order.

The chronic failure to resolve the situation in the Convention Centre - and to a lesser extent the Superdome, where the situation was apparently more calm - was described as a 'national disgrace' by the increasingly angry Nagin.

'You would think that on day five of the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States, and possibly the world, we would not still be waiting for troops and buses,' Nagin said on Thursday.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your problem with updating your Blog? Don't bother having a blog if you can't update it to fit the current events. I'm sick of you and especially sick of Dave McGowen of 'Center for an informed America'. I Know you know whom I'm talking about. ''

You people are pathetic. Inform the people or shut the fuck up. What is Daves problem and what is your problem?

I would appreciate an answer.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you post on 'Rigorous Intuition' from time to time.

How's the wifey thing going? She getting any better?

Good Luck. I Have a drain myself I can't consciously shake.

They say life begins when the kids move out and the dog dies. Well, I'm still salivating waiting for that to happen.

I'm all ears.

People ARE watching you, much to your disbelief.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad to be stuck in a situation where you have to babysit your spouse until they die. No fun whatsoever. No dinners. No Flirting. No Romance. No Sex. No Fun. No Life. I'm Suffocating, howabout You?

I hope you're not going through the same thing I am.

All the alcohol can't even deaden the pain that I feel. Are you feeling that? I have to vent somewhere. I have nobody to talk to.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Dream's End said...

Are all these anonymouses the same? Sorry I've made you angry. I actually emailed McGowan because I was worried something had happened to him. Short reply...he's okay but he's "busy." Considering a guy named Dave McGowan went postal in the nearby of community and killed his whole family, I was glad to hear that it was a DIFFERENT Dave McGowan

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. Mine are not so tough as what you describe and my wife is feeling better.

I'll be posting soon. I've been thinking about a lot of things...connections I hadn't noticed.

Come join in over at RI if you want...I've gotten into these long debates...mainly to clarify my own thinking. Slip me a hint if you post there.

I'll have something in the next few days, I promise. These are weird times, and I've just been trying to wade through the weirdness.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I'm having a tough time right now dealing with my own situation. She is dying but doesn't even know it. (Are'nt we all)She breathes so heavy that killed my mother. Maybe I am just paranoid. Maybe I should just shut up. Emphazema is a bitch.

Yes those were all of my annonomous postings. Would it make you feel better if I called myself 'Mike'?

See you at RI

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ty, I know about addictions. There are addictions to oil(gasoline), addictions to everything from cigarettes to Alcohol to crack Cocaine.

The Point is, You are going to buy gas at nomatter what the price is. You are addicted. You"re going to buy gas no matter what the price is.

What are you going to do without your car? You're screwed! Ride your bike???

You'll pay whatever the fuck they say you will pay. You are THEIR bitch.

11:35 PM  

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