Sunday, December 21, 2008

Katrina's Hidden Race War

This is seriously disgusting. Thanks to Carmen at All About Race for posting the link.

According to an article in The Nation, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some residents of a mostly white neighborhood in New Orleans called Algiers Point decided to protect their homes from looters. Okay, that sounds reasonable, right? They even claim "The police said, If they're breaking in your property do what you gotta do and leave them [the bodies] on the side of the road."

Okay, fine, I can understand that too, under the circumstances. But these men decided to interpret "breaking in your property" to mean "walking down the street within a block or two." Only one of the incidents reported mentions someone trying to get into a locked and shuttered building -- a grocery store -- and the way it's written, it could easily have been someone trying to see if there was anyone inside who'd sell them something. It might've been a looter, sure, but we don't know for certain.

And there are a number of very clear cases of people being shot just for being Black and nearby, because the vigilantes were also interpreting "looter" to mean "any Black man within gun range." Here's the account of a woman who spoke anonymously to the reporter:

Some of the gunmen prowling Algiers Point were out to wage a race war, says one woman whose uncle and two cousins joined the cause. A former New Orleanian, this source spoke to me anonymously because she fears her relatives could be prosecuted for their crimes. "My uncle was very excited that it was a free-for-all--white against black--that he could participate in," says the woman. "For him, the opportunity to hunt black people was a joy."

"They didn't want any of the 'ghetto niggers' coming over" from the east side of the river, she says, adding that her relatives viewed African-Americans who wandered into Algiers Point as "fair game." One of her cousins, a young man in his 20s, sent an e-mail to her and several other family members describing his adventures with the militia. He had attached a photo in which he posed next to an African-American man who'd been fatally shot. The tone of the e-mail, she says, was "gleeful"--her cousin was happy that "they were shooting niggers."


So it's not quite accurate to say that these were simply people determined to protect their property.

Three of the shooting victims, Donnell Herrington -- who was shot in the neck and would've died if he hadn't made it to a hospital in time -- and his friends Marcel Alexander and Chris Collins, were walking by Algiers Point on their way to the Algiers Point Ferry. The National Guard had "designated the Algiers Point ferry landing an official evacuation site. Rescuers from the Coast Guard and other agencies brought flood victims to the ferry terminal, where soldiers loaded them onto buses headed for Texas." So these three men were headed to a bona fide evacuation site, run by the National Guard and the Coast Guard, hoping to be evacuated. And for the crime of heading for an official evacuation site, all three were shot and Herrington nearly died.

The police were in disarray during the flooding and couldn't do anything about the various crimes being committed in the area. But even now, when there are multiple video tapes of members of the Algiers Point "militia" bragging about shooting people, and describing the circumstances of their having done so (most of which don't even come close to resembling active looting) the police still don't seem to have any interest at all in pursuing these shootings. Or if they are, they're keeping it a tight secret.

The article is long but it's definitely worth a read. Anyone who thinks these attitudes are going to vanish into the ether when a Black family enters the White House next month needs to think long and hard about reality.

Angie

16 comments:

Travis Erwin said...

Katrina and all of it's aftermath is one of this countries alltime low points.

From our leaders, down to the behavior of some in her path there are many who should be ashamed.

Angie said...

Travis -- I agree, absolutely, and I thought so before I ever heard of this.

I know there are people who are blatantly and hatefully racist, people who would murder members of another race if they thought they could get away with it. But I think what shocked me was that these people were so proud of what they did, and so sure that no one would ever prosecute them for it, they were willing to brag to a video camera, and not just once. That says something. :(

Angie

writtenwyrdd said...

That prideful hatefulness is so disgusting! I'm at a loss for words. And I am further apalled that I hadn't heard of this before. I know that a lot of Katrina news is not carried where you can find it without digging, but stuff like this is horrid.

Angie said...

WW -- that's exactly it. [nod] They weren't ashamed at all, they weren't even secretive. They thought it was something wonderful and cool and fun that they'd done, and they were bragging about it. To video cameras. And what's really outrageous is that so far, they seem to have been right, since nothing at all has been done to them. It's disgusting is what it is.

Angie

laughingwolf said...

one of the first things i said when i heard of katrina's devastation: deep pockets are gonna buy up as much property as they can, and ensure the poor lose out... and it happened

i had not heard of the 'hunting', am not surprised, but still horrified :(

Angie said...

am not surprised, but still horrified

LW -- yes, that. :(

Angie

laughingwolf said...

season's blessings to you and yours, m'dear :D

Angie said...

LW -- same back to you, hon! {{}}

Angie

Ello said...

I'm just really sad to read that. I'm not surprised just sad.

Angie said...

Ello -- Like I said above, I'm not so much surprised that people would do it, but I am surprised that they're so open about it and seem so sure that they won't be arrested. And that so far that assumption seems to be correct. :(

Angie

Shauna Roberts said...

I hope they're all rounded up and spend the rest of their lives in jail.

Angie said...

Shauna -- I'd go for that. [nodnod]

Angie

Caryn Caldwell said...

Wow. You're right -- it's absolutely disgusting. Sad thing is, I'm not completely surprised that it has happened.

Angie said...

Caryn -- neither am I. And yes, that says something pretty terrible about our society. :(

Angie

laughingwolf said...

happy new year to you and yours, angie :D

Angie said...

LW -- thanks, hon, you too! [hugz]

Angie