This is not the first article with this title I have written but if some of the accounts coming out of New Orleans prove to be genuine and fair accounts, then I suspect a whole new generation of people who agree with my tagline have just been created on the Gulf Coast of the United States. This was written by a pair of paramedics who were trapped in New Orleans.
We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the “imminent” arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.
These are clearly admirable self-reliant people here, not a bunch of welfare addled ‘do nothings’ incapable of independent thinking. They came up with a solution to their problem and the state simply stole it from them.
And if this is true, I can think of no better justification to openly state that people should own firearms to defend themselves not just against criminals but from agents of the state when there is a crisis.
We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.
As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.
We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.
And the real stunner…
Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, “Get off the fucking freeway”. A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.
Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of “victims” they saw “mob” or “riot”. We felt safety in numbers. Our “we must stay together” was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.
In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.
Ok, now would someone like to tell me why these people (a) should not have been armed (b) would not have been entirely justified using deadly force against the ‘law enforcement’ officials who, at gunpoint, did their damnedest to reduce their chances of survival?
We have heard accounts by authorities of crazed looters inexplicably shooting at contractors who were just trying to repair essential infrastructure. You know what? Maybe that is what happened and maybe not. I find myself thinking the official version of a great deal of what went on is far from the truth. Yet all we are ever going to see on CNN is pictures of heroic cops and National Guardsmen saving the day.
Unless this account proves to be a hoax or a gross misrepresentation of what happened, nothing less than a root and branch purge of the power structures in Louisiana will be enough. This is a true national scandal of the highest magnitude. I am appalled but not entirely surprised.