Voices from Louisiana—“We’re Way Past Angry”




Voices from Louisiana—“We’re Way Past Angry”
Revolution #13, September 4, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Revolution correspondents in Louisiana submitted this report:
On the way towards New Orleans, I talked to a man from Thibodeaux who had
flown into New Orleans by helicopter to help repair generators. “They’re not
telling people what’s happening there,” he said. “There are bodies
everywhere. There are dead bodies on the streets of New Orleans. A natural
disaster has become a human catastrophe; a furious storm has broken open a
torrent of fury and bitterness among the people.”
A man who grew up in New Orleans’ 9th Ward—right up against the levee and
the banks of Lake Pontchartrain—spoke to me. He broke down sobbing as he said
he still didn’t know where his mother, aunt, and sisters were. He then told me
this: “Don’t say they didn’t have a plan. That ain’t the problem. They
had a plan, and this is their plan. Block off the city and let the people who
don’t get out die. They’re poor, and they’re black. Let them die, that was
their plan.”
A woman called in to a radio show, desperate for help. She told of an elderly
friend who had been holed up for days, desperate, sick, and dehydrated. On
Friday, he tried to walk across the Mississippi River bridge. But he was turned
back by heavily armed troops because he had an Orleans Parish ID, and wasn’t
allowed to cross the “border” into Jefferson Parish. “He’s going to die
in his apartment,” she said.
Everyone we talked to is seething with anger and bursting with sorrow. People
are shocked—that they are being treated like refugees; that they are being
called refugees. They are shocked that government at every level did nothing to
help them. “How can we be refugees in our home state? My family has been here
since slavery days,” a man from Kenner said. “And now I’m supposed to be a
refugee?” “We’re not angry. We’re way past angry,” one young man from
Uptown New Orleans said. “If someone could look inside us and see how we feel,
they’d see that. We’re way past angry.”
New Orleans is now under military occupation. Tens of thousands of military
personnel have been sent in to suppress and control the remaining residents.
Orleans and several surrounding parishes have been put under martial law. After
days of letting the poorest people in a major city struggle to survive in a
sewage-filled, water-soaked, disease-ravaged city, with temperatures approaching
and festering at 100 degrees, with no food, water, or medical supplies, the
government sent in the military. A brother named Reginald spoke what is on many
people’s minds. “They’ve got the port here they use to send things to Iraq
every day to kill people. But they can’t use that port to help the people of
New Orleans?”
The shockwaves from this storm will be felt for a long time. How they
influence the future depends a lot on how the people respond right now. Looking
around at newly homeless kids playing on a makeshift basketball court at a
shelter in Baton Rouge, one young man said, “The city is gone, but we’re
still here.”
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