Plenty of Blame to Go Round (IV)

One issue that looks pretty raw right now was the local effort by neighboring Gretna to keep (black, poor) New Orleans residents from walking to safety–apparently because the route would have taken them right past (white, wealthier) people’s neighborhoods.

Start with the summary account offered by Kevin Drum — he has a good map. Then read Digby at hullabaloo for the details, and the outrage. Also Making Light. Ice the cake with this excerpt from an interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in which he talks about the closing of the bridge:

That says that people value their property, and were protecting property, over human life. … I’m pissed about it. And I don’t know how many people died as a result of that.

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4 Responses to Plenty of Blame to Go Round (IV)

  1. Kathleen says:

    Please, Professor Froomkin, could you address this?

    Seriously, what are the legal reprecussions of the actions of these police, and if the WSJ is correct, the Parish president? Do we not have a legal as well as moral obligation to save women and children in emergencies? Do we not have the expectation of being able to freely travel on public highways? Does the 14th amendment come into play here?

    If you live in NYC, and there is ever another terrible emergency that people need to walk across the bridges to escape, this time should you expect to be met and turned back by police from the other side, trapping you in a devistated place, stealing your water and supplies, and firing guns at you?

    San Francisco? Any city that might be hard to escape?

    From the WSJ:
    “After a commercial break, the announcer’s first call was from Jefferson Parish’s president, Aaron Bouchard, who said he had closed his borders to incoming traffic, even pedestrians. “Jefferson Parish is no promised land,” he said. “There is better food and better supplies in New Orleans. We don’t even have the Red Cross here.” He suggested the woman walk to the nearest police station and get a ride to the Superdome.”

    Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera plead for the people at the New Orleans Convention Center [QuickTime video; allow file time to load]:

    The Gretna police web page acknowledges they have a duty to protect people:

    “The City of Gretna Police Department’s mission is to prevent crime and maintain order while affording dignity and respect to all individuals; to protect lives….”

    What about all the predictable threats the Bush Administration has been warning us about? Obviously they’re incapable of doing anything real except pushing cronies into power and looting the treasury – can we stop them?
    Terrorism could hurl D.C. area into chaos
    Disaster response plans incomplete despite effort, funding since Sept. 1

  2. elliottg says:

    I encourage everyone who wants to understand why blame cannot be deflected from Bush to read this post from thisisnotover It succintly indicts Bush for his failure of leadership.

  3. Hi,

    I would like to encourage all who oppose the Gretna Sheriff’s Department (SD)’s heinous behavior after Hurricane Katrina to write to the Department of Justice (DOJ)to make sure the Gretna Sheriff’s Department does not get any more Federal Funds.

    I have included the name and address of the DOJ COPS program, which provided the Gretna Sheriff’s Department with Homeland Security and other grants, as well as links to the grants award listings on the DOJ homepage.

    I have also included some amusing links to news stories about the Gretna Sheriff that should prove interesting to his many “Fans”. Here is the link to my page, enjoy:

  4. Kath says:


    will you address this NOW? Now that the town of Gretna has voted racist?

    After Blocking the Bridge, Gretna Circles the Wagons
    # Long wary of next-door New Orleans, the town stands by its decision to bar the city’s evacuees.

    By Nicholas Riccardi, Times Staff Writer

    “GRETNA, La. — Little over a week after this mostly white suburb became a symbol of callousness for using armed officers to seal one of the last escape routes from New Orleans — trapping thousands of mostly black evacuees in the flooded city — the Gretna City Council passed a resolution supporting the police chief’s move.

    “This wasn’t just one man’s decision,” Mayor Ronnie C. Harris said Thursday. “The whole community backs it.”

    Three days after Hurricane Katrina hit, Gretna officers blocked the Mississippi River bridge that connects their city to New Orleans, exacerbating the sometimes troubled relationship with their neighbor. The blockade remained in place into the Labor Day weekend.”,0,728170.story?coll=la-home-headlines

    It’s being discussed over at DailyKos

    — but your legal knowledge, professor, would be valuable. Why? Because I’m just a citizen of this country, and not a lawyer, not a law professor. All I know is that there are situations where the law is trashed by those charged with it’s protection — and very often ordinary citizens, in that situation, have no recourse at all. Did anyone those folks turn back die? Likely they did, particularly after these “police” took their water.

    Is it legal?

    Is it a civil rights violation, as it appears to be? They blocked public highway, trapping people, leaving them to die — for four days.

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