From Fear to Violence to Delight
“Katrina’s Hidden Race War”
The over-the-top title of an article in the December 17th edition of The Nation makes it seem like sensational journalism. But the reality is far from sensational–it is disturbing and demands attention.
A.C. Thompson reveals his investigation of events that took place in a New Orleans neighborhood during Hurricane Katrina. Algiers Point, a predominantly white suburban area, stayed relatively dry and stable during Katrina. Those from Greater Algiers, a poorer and predominantly black area, as well as the rest of New Orleans, came looking for refuge. In response, a group of Algiers Point residents blocked the roads, stockpiled arms and formed a militia, shooting anyone who appeared to be an “outsider.”
In the aftermath of Katrina, rumors spread fiercly about the chaos in the Gulf Coast, the unspoken perpetrators being blacks. Gang members were terrorizing the Superdome, babies were being raped, tourists were being assaulted. These reports were later found to be wildly exaggerated or completely untrue. Yet the climate of fear perpetuated by such rumors makes it easier to justify vigilante justice and dehumanize groups of people. One interviewed vigilante claimed, “I’m not a prejudiced individual, but you just know the outlaws who are up to no good. You can see it in their eyes.”
Yet other vigilantes were shockingly more upbeat about the matter. One interviewee reported, “It was great! It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. It it moved, you shot it.” A woman with him said, “He understands the N-word now.”
The documentaries Welcome to New Orleans and When the Levees Broke, as well as pro-gun blogs and Cox News, have all reported the shootings, yet nothing has been done. Thompson expressed dismay at the fact that he could easily acquire detailed information from many witnesses, and none of it had been reported to any authority.
The grass-roots organization Color of Change is demanding justice from Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. To add your name to the petition, click here.
To read Thompson’s article in full, click here.