Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Coon Hunting," New Orleans style, post-Katrina

Thank God America isn't a racist nation.

Why, if it was, there might be roving band of armed white thugs, shooting up blacks trying to escape the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.

Yes, if we were a racist nation, these vigilantes would still be free, not facing any criminal penalties for their murderous activities and actually bragging about shooting anything that moved, as long as it was black.

Yes, thank God we're not like that.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: He understands the “n” word now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: I learned my wings.

UNIDENTIFIED: …all the looters and stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: What looters?

UNIDENTIFIED: You didn’t see all the looters?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: We had three. They left here, one without a t-shirt and the others full of buckshot.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Ha, ha, ha!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: And we have the t-shirt to prove it.

INTERVIEWER: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: Oh, yeah.


AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about the man who ended up—whose dead body was burned, perhaps by the police, not clear. Tell us that situation.

A.C. THOMPSON: You know, this story is one that really shocked me. I’ve been reporting on crime for more than ten years, and this I found incredibly shocking. This is the story of Henry Glover. Henry Glover was the guy who, shortly after the storm in the Algiers neighborhood, was shot by an unknown assailant. He was rescued by a Good Samaritan who drove him to a public school, where the police had set up camp and had basically a staging facility. And he thought, the Good Samaritan did, that the police would be able to help this man who desperately needed medical help.

What happened, according to two witnesses who were there at the scene, is that the police in fact did nothing. They handcuffed the Good Samaritan and physically attacked him and left the man who was wounded to bleed to death. This is what two witnesses have told me.

Later, after the man was dead and bled to death in the back seat of this car, the car was confiscated by the police. And the next time we know about what happened to the car is it’s behind the police station and burned up with the man’s burned body in the back reduced to nothing but bones and clumps of meat and ashes. And there has been no investigation. There’s an autopsy that says clearly this man was burned up, which is suspicious and unusual, and nothing has happened. His family has gotten no information from the police, and the police haven’t bothered to talk to his family and say, “What do you know about the last moments of Henry Glover’s life?”


Katrina’s Hidden Race War: In Aftermath of Storm, White Vigilante Groups Shot 11 African Americans in New Orleans

In a shocking new report, The Nation magazine exposes how white vigilante groups patrolled the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, shooting at least eleven African American men. Local police have never conducted investigations into the shootings. We speak to reporter A.C. Thompson and New Orleans resident Donnell Herrington, who nearly died after being shot by a white vigilante.

Guests:

A.C. Thompson, investigative reporter whose latest article “Katrina’s Hidden Race War” appears in The Nation magazine. A.C. Thompson’s reporting on New Orleans was directed and underwritten by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. ProPublica provided additional support, as did the Center for Investigative Reporting and New American Media.

Donnell Herrington, New Orleans resident who nearly died on Sept. 1, 2005, after he was shot by a white vigilante in Algiers Point.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Nation magazine has just published a major investigative report titled “Katrina’s Hidden Race War.” The article examines how a group of white vigilantes in the predominantly white New Orleans neighborhood of Algiers Point shot at least eleven African American men in the days after Hurricane Katrina. Local police have never conducted investigations into the shootings.

The author of the article, A.C. Thompson, will join us in a few minutes, but first we turn to a video produced by the Nation Institute and Hidden Driver. It is narrated by A.C. Thompson and features interviews with some of the victims of the vigilante violence.

A.C. THOMPSON: When Hurricane Katrina ripped into New Orleans, most people tried to flee. In one neighborhood, however, a band of fifteen to thirty people refused to evacuate. With the police department crippled, these people amassed weapons and began patrolling the streets. Before long, bullets began to fly.
Over the past eighteen months, I’ve interviewed figures on all sides of the gunfire: the gunmen, people who were shot and survived, and witnesses to the violence.
Severed from the rest of New Orleans by the river, Algiers Point is an insular, predominantly white neighborhood within the larger Algiers district, which is mostly African American. As word spread that Algiers Point was dry, desperate people fleeing flooded zip codes began headed towards the west bank.

INTERVIEWER: How did you protect yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: You had to do what you had to do. You know? If you had to shoot somebody, you had to shoot somebody. That simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2: We had looters.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: It was great!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 4: It was great!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: It was like pheasant season in South Dakota!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 4: Right on!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3: If it moved, you shot it!

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