Thursday, September 22, 2005


I'm embarassed, and glad I don't live on the Westbank.

This is pretty embarassing.

Gretna police fired shots over the heads of evacuees streaming across the Crescent City Connection, as bullhorns blared for them to go back to New Orleans.

In Plaquemines Parish, dozens of sheriff's deputies raised shotguns and pistols to turn back a convoy of school buses attempting to take storm victims to safety at the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse.

And in Westwego, arriving evacuees had two choices: Leave immediately, or go to an overcrowded shelter with few supplies where armed guards accompanied by a police dog prevented anyone from leaving.The confrontations occurred largely along racial lines: African-American residents of poor sections of New Orleans facing off against majority white law enforcement agencies.

Elected law enforcement officials remain unapologetic over their response and say they would take the same steps if the city flooded again."If you are in your house and they're rioting all around to get in, are you going to let them in?" asked Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson. "We saved our city and protected our people. Our plan worked and we're going to stick with our plan. Next hurricane, we're going to secure our city the same way."Lawson added that evacuees "actually would have been better off where they were, because we didn't have anything for them."
"If he (Lawson) is saying they would do the same thing over again, is he saying the same woman who died on the ramp because she couldn't get over the bridge, is he saying he would let that woman die again?" said City Council President Oliver Thomas. "I don't think he's thinking that. I think he's talking political. He's just trying to make white folks in Gretna think he's protecting them from all those poor black people from New Orleans."
In Plaquemines Parish, Sheriff Jiff Hingle said he was forced to turn back the school bus convoy headed for the Naval Air Station because the evacuees "would have become our problem.""All they were going to do was end up destroying my community," he said. "I feel very, very sorry for them. But they would put such a burden on us that we would collapse."

Full story here

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