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Old 09-09-2005, 06:59 PM   #1
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Location: Iowa
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Inside New Orleans

These postings are from a listserve for artists of African descent. One was posted by the cousin of the founder of this listserve. Another is a transcription of Charmaine Neville (Aaron Neville's daughter). Stories like the ones below contest the racist portrayals that we are all reading about, hearing, and viewing in the media.

With regards,


i heard from my aunt last night that my cousin Denise
> made it out of New Orleans; she's at her brother's in
> Baton Rouge. from what she told me:
> her mother, a licensed practical nurse, was called in
> to work on Sunday night at Memorial Hospital
> (historically known as Baptist Hospital to those of us
> from N.O.). Denise decided to stay with her mother,
> her niece and grandniece (who is 2 years old); she
> figured they'd be safe at the hospital. they went to
> Baptist, and had to wait hours to be assigned a room
> to sleep in; after they were finally assigned a room,
> two white nurses suddenly arrived after the cut-off
> time (time to be assigned a room), and Denise and her
> family were booted out; their room was given up to the
> new nurses. Denise was furious, and rather than stay
> at Baptist, decided to walk home (several blocks away)
> to ride out the storm at her mother's apartment. her
> mother stayed at the hospital.
> she described it as the scariest time in her life. 3
> of the rooms in the apartment (there are only 4) caved
> in. ceilings caved in, walls caved in. she huddled
> under a mattress in the hall. she thought she would
> die from either the storm or a heart attack. after the
> storm passed, she went back to Baptist to seek shelter
> (this was Monday). it was also scary at Baptist; the
> electricity was out, they were running on generators,
> there was no air conditioning. Tuesday the levees
> broke, and water began rising. they moved patients
> upstairs, saw boats pass by on what used to be
> streets. they were told that they would be evacuated,
> that buses were coming. then they were told they would
> have to walk to the nearest intersection, Napoleon and
> S. Claiborne, to await the buses. they waded out in
> hip-deep water, only to stand at the intersection, on
> the neutral ground (what y'all call the median) for 3
> 1/2 hours. the buses came and took them to the Ernest
> Morial Convention Center. (yes, the convention center
> you've all seen on TV.)
> Denise said she thought she was in hell. they were
> there for 2 days, with no water, no food. no shelter.
> Denise, her mother (63 years old), her niece (21 years
> old), and 2-year-old grandniece. when they arrived,
> there were already thousands of people there. they
> were told that buses were coming. police drove by,
> windows rolled up, thumbs up signs. national guard
> trucks rolled by, completely empty, soldiers with guns
> cocked and aimed at them. nobody stopped to drop off
> water. a helicopter dropped a load of water, but all
> the bottles exploded on impact due to the height of
> the helicopter.
> the first day (Wednesday) 4 people died next to her.
> the second day (Thursday) 6 people died next to her.
> Denise told me the people around her all thought they
> had been sent there to die. again, nobody stopped. the
> only buses that came were full; they dropped off more
> and more people, but nobody was being picked up and
> taken away. they found out that those being dropped
> off had been rescued from rooftops and attics; they
> got off the buses delirious from lack of water and
> food. completely dehydrated. the crowd tried to keep
> them all in one area; Denise said the new arrivals had
> mostly lost their minds. they had gone crazy.
> inside the convention center, the place was one huge
> bathroom. in order to ****, you had to stand in other
> people's ****. the floors were black and slick with
> ****. most people stayed outside because the smell was
> so bad. but outside wasn't much better: between the
> heat, the humidity, the lack of water, the old and
> very young dying from dehydration... and there was no
> place to lay down, not even room on the sidewalk. they
> slept outside Wednesday night, under an overpass.
> Denise said yes, there were young men with guns there.
> but they organized the crowd. they went to Canal
> Street and "looted," and brought back food and water
> for the old people and the babies, because nobody had
> eaten in days. when the police rolled down windows and
> yelled out "the buses are coming," the young men with
> guns organized the crowd in order: old people in
> front, women and children next, men in the back. just
> so that when the buses came, there would be priorities
> of who got out first.
> Denise said the fights she saw between the young men
> with guns were fist fights. she saw them put their
> guns down and fight rather than shoot up the crowd.
> but she said that there were a handful of people shot
> in the convention center; their bodies were left
> inside, along with other dead babies and old people.
> Denise said the people thought there were being sent
> there to die. lots of people being dropped off, nobody
> being picked up. cops passing by, speeding off.
> national guard rolling by with guns aimed at them. and
> yes, a few men shot at the police, because at a
> certain point all the people thought the cops were
> coming to hurt them, to kill them all. she saw a young
> man who had stolen a car speed past, cops in pursuit;
> he crashed the car, got out and ran, and the cops shot
> him in the back. in front of the whole crowd. she saw
> many groups of people decide that they were going to
> walk across the bridge to the west bank, and those
> same groups would return, saying that they were met at
> the top of the bridge by armed police ordering them to
> turn around, that they weren't allowed to leave.
> so they all believed they were sent there to die.
> Denise's niece found a pay phone, and kept trying to
> call her mother's boyfriend in Baton Rouge, and
> finally got through and told him where they were. the
> boyfriend, and Denise's brother, drove down from Baton
> Rouge and came and got them. they had to bribe a few
> cops, and talk a few into letting them into the city
> ("come on, man, my 2-year-old niece is at the
> Convention Center!"), then they took back roads to get
> to them.
> after arriving at my other cousin's apartment in Baton
> Rouge, they saw the images on TV, and couldn't believe
> how the media was portraying the people of New
> Orleans. she kept repeating to me on the phone last
> night: make sure you tell everybody that they left us
> there to die. nobody came. those young men with guns
> were protecting us. if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't
> have had the little water and food they had found.
> that's Denise Moore's story.
> Lisa C. Moore


I was in my house when everything first started. I was
in my house in the Bywater area in the Ninth Ward in
New Orleans. When the hurricane came, it blew all of
the left side of my house, the north side of my house
completely off. The water was coming in my house in
torrents. I had my neighbor, and an elderly man who is
my neighbor, and myself in the house with our dogs and
cats, and we were trying to stay out of the water but
the water was coming in too fast. So we ended up
having to leave the house. We left the house and we
went up on the roof of a school. I took a crowbar and
I burst the door open on the roof of the school to
help people, to get them up on the roof of the school.

Later on we found a flatboat, and we went around in
the flatboat, getting people off the roof of their
houses and bringing them to the school. We found all
the food that we could, and we cooked and we fed
people. But then, things started getting really bad.
By the second day, the people that were there -- the
people that we were feeding and everything -- we had
no more food, no water, no nothing. And other people
were coming into our neighborhood. We were watching
the helicopters go across the bridge and airlift other
people out, but they would hover over us and tell us
"hi", and that would be all. They wouldn't drop us any
food, any water, nothing.

Alligators were eating people. They had all kind of
stuff floating in the water. They had babies floating
in the water. We had to walk over hundreds of bodies
of dead people -- people that we tried to save from
the hospices, from the hospitals, and from the old
folks homes. I tried to get the police to help us, but
I realized we rescued a lot of police officers in the
flatboat from the Fifth District Police Station. The
guy who was driving the boat, he rescued them and
brought them to a lot of different places where they
could be saved. We understood why the police couldn't
help us, but we couldn't understand why the National
Guard and them couldn't help us, because we kept
seeing them. But they never would stop and help us.

Finally, it just got to be too much. I just took all
of the people that I could. I had two old women in
wheelchairs with no legs. I rolled them from down
there in that Ninth Ward to the French Quarter, and I
went back and got more people. There were groups of
us, there was about 24 of us, and we kept going back
and forth rescuing whoever we could get and bringing
them to the French Quarter since we heard that there
were phones in the French Quarter and that there
wasn't any water [flooding]. They were right, there
was phones, but we couldn't get through.

I found some police officers. I told them that a lot
of us women had been raped down there. [her voice
breaks] Men were coming in through the neighborhood,
not the men that were helping us save people, but
others. [begins crying] And they came and they started
raping women, and raping them, and then they started
killing. And I don't know who these people were, I'm
not going to tell you I knew who they were, because I
don't. But what I want people to understand is that if
we were not left down there like the animals they were
treating us like, all of those things wouldn't have
happened. People are trying to say that we stayed in
that city because we *wanted* to be rioting and we
wanted to do this. We didn't have resources to get
out; we had no way to leave. When they gave the
evacuation order, if we could have left, we would have

There are still thousands and thousands of people
trapped in the homes down in the downtown area, in the
Ninth Ward. And not just in my neighborhood, but in
other neighborhoods in the Ninth Ward. There are
people still trapped down there -- old people, young
people, babies, pregnant women -- nobody's helping
them. And I want people to realize that we did not
stay in that city so we could steal and loot and
commit crimes. A lot of those young men lost their
minds because the helicopters would fly over us and
wouldn't stop. We'd do SOS with the flashlights, we'd
do everything. And it came to a point, it really did
come to a point, when these young men were so
frustrated that they did start shooting. They weren't
trying to hit the helicopters, they figured that maybe
they weren't seeing, maybe if they hear this gunfire,
they will stop then. But that didn't help us, nothing
like that helped us.

Finally, I got to Canal Street with all of my people
that I had saved from back there. There was a whole
group of us. *I* -- I don't want them arresting nobody
else -- *I* broke the window in a RTA bus. I never
learned how to drive a bus in my life. I got in that
bus, I loaded all of those people in wheelchairs and
everything else into that bus, [begins sobbing] and we
drove and we drove and we drove and millions of people
were trying to get me to help them, to get on the bus
with us [breaks down in sobs, Bishop Hughes comforts
and praises her inaudibly] I don't know how God gave
me the willpower to do... I just tried...gave me the
willpower to do... I just tried... [segment ends]

that's Charmaine Neville's story.

I just left New Orleans a couple hours ago. I traveled from the
apartment I was staying in by boat to a helicopter to a refugee
camp. If anyone wants to examine the attitude of federal and state
officials towards the victims of hurricane Katrina, I advise you to
one of the refugee camps.

In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freeway near Causeway,
thousands of people (at least 90% black and poor) stood and squatted in
mud and trash behind metal barricades, under an unforgiving sun, with
heavily armed soldiers standing guard over them. When a bus
would come through, it would stop at a random spot, state police
would open a gap in one of the barricades, and people would rush for
bus, with no information given about where the bus was going.
Once inside (we were told) evacuees would be told where the bus was
them - Baton Rouge, Houston, Arkansas, Dallas, or other
locations. I was told that if you boarded a bus bound for Arkansas (for
example), even people with family and a place to stay in Baton Rouge
not be allowed to get out of the bus as it passed
through Baton Rouge. You had no choice but to go to the shelter in
Arkansas. If you had people willing to come to New Orleans to pick you
they could not come within 17 miles of the camp.

I traveled throughout the camp and spoke to Red Cross workers,
Salvation Army workers, National Guard, and state police, and
although they were friendly, no one could give me any details on
when buses would arrive, how many, where they would go to, or any
other information. I spoke to the several teams of journalists
nearby, and asked if any of them had been able to get any
information from any federal or state officials on any of these
questions, and all of them, from Australian tv to local Fox
affiliates complained of an unorganized, non-communicative, mess.
One cameraman told me "as someone who's been here in this camp for two
days, the only information I can give you is this: get out by
nightfall. You don't want to be here at night."

There was also no visible attempt by any of those running the camp to
up any sort of transparent and consistent system, for
instance a line to get on buses, a way to register contact
information or find family members, special needs services for
children and infirm, phone services, treatment for possible disease
exposure, nor even a single trash can.

To understand this tragedy, its important to look at New Orleans

For those who have not lived in New Orleans, you have missed a
incredible, glorious, vital, city. A place with a culture and energy
unlike anywhere else in the world. A 70% African-American city where
resistance to white supremecy has supported a generous, subversive and
unique culture of vivid beauty. From jazz, blues and hiphop, to
secondlines, Mardi Gras Indians, Parades, Beads, Jazz Funerals, and red
beans and rice on Monday nights, New Orleans is a place of art and
and dance and sexuality and liberation unlike anywhere
else in the world.

It is a city of kindness and hospitality, where walking down the
block can take two hours because you stop and talk to someone on
every porch, and where a community pulls together when someone is in
It is a city of extended families and social networks filling the gaps
left by city, state and federal goverments that have
abdicated their responsibilty for the public welfare. It is a city
someone you walk past on the street not only asks how you are, they
for an answer.

It is also a city of exploitation and segregation and fear. The city of
New Orleans has a population of just over 500,000 and was
expecting 300 murders this year, most of them centered on just a
few, overwhelmingly black, neighborhoods. Police have been quoted as
saying that they don't need to search out the perpetrators, because
usually a few days after a shooting, the attacker is shot in

There is an atmosphere of intense hostility and distrust between
much of Black New Orleans and the N.O. Police Department. In recent
months, officers have been accused of everything from drug running to
corruption to theft. In seperate incidents, two New Orleans
police officers were recently charged with rape (while in uniform), and
there have been several high profile police killings of unarmed youth,
including the murder of Jenard Thomas, which has inspired
ongoing weekly protests for several months.

The city has a 40% illiteracy rate, and over 50% of black ninth
graders will not graduate in four years. Louisiana spends on average
$4,724 per child's education and ranks 48th in the country for
lowest teacher salaries. The equivalent of more than two classrooms of
young people drop out of Louisiana schools every day and about
50,000 students are absentfrom school on any given day. Far too many
black men from New Orleans end up enslaved in Angola Prison, a former
slave plantation where inmates still do manual farm labor,
and over 90% of inmates eventually die in the prison. It is a city
industry has left, and most remaining jobs are are low-paying,
insecure jobs in the service economy.

Race has always been the undercurrent of Louisiana politics. This
disaster is one that was constructed out of racism, neglect and
incompetence. Hurricane Katrina was the inevitable spark igniting
the gasoline of cruelty and corruption. From the neighborhoods left
at risk, to the treatment of the refugees to the the media
portayal of the victims, this disaster is shaped by race.

Louisiana politics is famously corrupt, but with the tragedies of
this week our political leaders have defined a new level of

As hurricane Katrina approached, our Governor urged us to "Pray the
hurricane down" to a level two. Trapped in a building two days after
hurricane, we tuned our battery-operated radio into local radio and tv
stations, hoping for vital news, and were told that our
governor had called for a day of prayer. As rumors and panic began to
rule, they was no source of solid dependable information. Tuesday
politicians and reporters said the water level would rise
another 12 feet - instead it stabilized.

Rumors spread like wildfire, and the politicians and media only made it

While the rich escaped New Orleans, those with nowhere to go and no way
get there were left behind. Adding salt to the wound, the
local and national media have spent the last week demonizing those left

As someone that loves New Orleans and the people in it, this is the
of this tragedy that hurts me the most, and it hurts me deeply.

No sane person should classify someone who takes food from
indefinitely closed stores in a desperate, starving city as
a "looter," but thats just what the media did over and over again.

Sherrifs and politicians talked of having troops protect stores
instead of perform rescue operations.

Images of New Orleans' hurricane-ravaged population were transformed
black, out-of-control, criminals. As if taking a stereo from a store
will clearly be insured against loss is a greater crime than the
governmental neglect and incompetence that did billions of dollars of
damage and destroyed a city. This media focus is a
tactic, just as the eighties focus on "welfare queens" and "super-
predators" obscured the simultaneous and much larger crimes of the
and Loan scams and mass layoffs, the hyper-exploited people of New
are being used as a scapegoat to cover up much larger crimes.

City, state and national politicians are the real criminals here.
Since at least the mid-1800s, its been widely known the danger faced by
flooding to New Orleans. The flood of 1927, which, like this
week's events, was more about politics and racism than any kind of
disaster, illustrated exactly the danger faced. Yet
government officials have consistently refused to spend the money to
protect this poor, overwhelmingly black, city.

While FEMA and others warned of the urgent impending danger to New
and put forward proposals for funding to reinforce and
protect the city, the Bush administration, in every year since 2001,
cut or refused to fund New Orleans flood control, and ignored
scientists warnings of increased hurricanes as a result of global
warming. And, as the dangers rose with the floodlines, the lack of
coordinated response dramatized vividly the callous disregard of our
elected leaders.

The aftermath from the 1927 flood helped shape the elections of both a
President and a Governor, and ushered in the southern populist politics
Huey Long.

In the coming months, billions of dollars will likely flood into New
Orleans. This money can either be spent to usher in a "New Deal" for
city, with public investment, creation of stable union jobs, new
cultural programs and housing restoration, or the city can be "rebuilt
revitalized" to a shell of its former self, with
newer hotels, more casinos, and with chain stores and theme parks
replacing the former neighborhoods, cultural centers and corner jazz

Long before Katrina, New Orleans was hit by a hurricane of poverty,
racism, disinvestment, de-industrialization and corruption. Simply the
damage from this pre-Katrina hurricane will take billions to

Now that the money is flowing in, and the world's eyes are focused on
Katrina, its vital that progressive-minded people take this
opportunity to fight for a rebuilding with justice. New Orleans is a
special place, and we need to fight for its rebirth.

29g FOWLR- 2 Percula Clowns
2 Emerald Mithrax Crab, 5 Nassarius Snails, 3 Astrea Snails, 1 mexican turbo snails, 1 Chocolate Chip Star, 1 Peppermint Shrimp, and 27lbs of LR 2lbs tonga branch and 25lbs fiji rock

Maiden's Hair, Calerpa, and Red Kelp macro algae.
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:30 PM   #2
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I hope they are all safe.
the sheep is in the world, lol
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