White vigilantes shot at Blacks on sight (FCN, 01-07-2009)

(FinalCall.com) – Writer A.C. Thompson’s 18-month investigation of shootings in the Algiers Point neighborhood in New Orleans has been circulating on the internet and activist groups have started to mobilize to demand an investigation into at least 11 shootings and perhaps the murders of Blacks in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The extensive report in The Nation magazine, published in the Jan. 5 edition, revealed how White vigilantes hunted and shot Blacks who walked through Algiers Point, a White enclave in a predominantly Black community.

Algiers Point was the site of an evacuation operation and was not hit by floodwaters. Blacks came into the area seeking to be rescued. Instead, they were apparently met with shotguns, rifles, handguns and an Uzi, according to the Thompson piece and a YouTube video where victims and members of a self-styled militia recount tales of confrontation and survival. Two Black men in the YouTube video describe how they were hunted, one shot several times barely survived shotgun pellets in his neck.


ColorOfChange.org and the Katrina Information Network, http://www.katrinaaction.org/, are two groups that have started to organize to demand justice for the victims and a thorough investigation. The Nation magazine has complained that officials in New Orleans were largely unresponsive to its writer’s attempt to get at the truth. It also expressed a real concern about the possibility of justice in an editorial about the A.C. Thompson investigation: “We believe that justice in this matter will never be served by the City of New Orleans. Thompson has been unable to ascertain that a single police investigation was opened into any of these shootings, despite efforts by some surviving victims, family members and witnesses to contact the police. His detailed queries to the New Orleans Police Department and District Attorney’s office were ignored over a period of several months. The Orleans Parish coroner’s office flouted local sunshine laws and refused to turn over key autopsy records until The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund filed suit.

“It’s not too late for accountability. Louisiana has gained a new governor since the storm, and we’ll soon have a new president. Community groups should call upon Governor Bobby Jindal to lead a multiagency task force to get to the bottom of these crimes. In Congress, Representative John Conyers and Senator Patrick Leahy ought to make use of their subpoena power to get then-Police Chief Eddie Compass and then-District Attorney Eddie Jordan to explain their inaction; police officers posted in Algiers Point after the storm and the vigilantes themselves should face subpoenas, too. And it would be a fitting gesture if Eric Holder, once confirmed as attorney general, swiftly directed the Justice Department to open an investigation. If we as a nation are ever truly to transcend race, tolerance for racist violence in our midst must come to an end,” said The Nation editorial.

Holding public officials accountable and making sure the wheels of the justice system turn takes more than a wish, a hope or a dream. It demands a highly organized, persistent campaign and foot soldiers from across the United States, with a broad array of Black organizations and all who believe in right at the center of this effort.

Early on in the Katrina disaster, talk of looters and gangbangers gone wild surfaced. The condemnations and law enforcement responses were swift. The governor at the time warned looters would be shot and Mayor Ray Nagin insisted that cops would act. But it turned out that the stories about mass rapes and crimes in the New Orleans Superdome were actually lies, the incidents never happened. There are witnesses, documents and video that verify, or at least demand an examination. Anyone guilty of crimes of violence in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters and human tragedies in American history must be prosecuted.

ColorOfChange.org, which utilized its internet activism to build support for Black youth accused of assaulting a White classmate in the Jena 6 case, has initiated an online petition and calls on local, state and federal officials to act responsibly and probe the alleged heinous crimes.

The petition is also supported by the Katrina Information Network, which has been a consistent force for justice after the 2005 storm. KIN has fought against the exposure of Katrina survivors to formaldehyde in trailers, demanded needed assistance to rebuild and protect the right of survivors to return, and pushed for a Gulf Coast Recovery Act to create “job and training opportunities rebuilding infrastructure and housing and restoring the environment in communities along the Gulf Coast, so all of Hurricane Katrina and Rita’s survivors can realize their human rights to return and participate in rebuilding more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable communities.”

One of the saddest things about the Algiers Point shootings is that it shows a horrible, sick side of White America. It shows how the most depraved aspects of racism came to the fore and one person interviewed by Mr. Thompson talked about how her relatives were gleeful for the opportunity to hunt Blacks in what was seen as a race war.

Malik Rahim, a resident of Algiers Point, describes how he was warned to stay on his block by what sounds like members of a modern lynch mob. He notes that he never expected such treatment from people who were his neighbors. It is made even sadder because Mr. Rahim is a co-founder of the Common Ground Collective, a multi-racial group that provides short term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the gulf coast region, and long term support in rebuilding the communities affected in the New Orleans area. Common Ground Relief is a community-based volunteer group. It was founded seven days after Hurricane Katrina hit for $50 and war “veterans, doctors, lawyers, human rights activists and others responded by traveling to New Orleans and collectively offered hope and solidarity,” according to the Common Ground website. The group provided food, clothing, shelter, medicine and whatever people needed that it could get its hands on.

While some sank to the depths of human depravity, Mr. Rahim was among those trying to save lives and heal the city. Yet his own life was threatened because of the color of his skin. Don’t let the assaults on Black lives go unanswered, log-on and support the post-Katrina shootings campaign for justice.