Hurricane Gustav has already hit the shores of New Orleans, thus
far it does not have the sting of Katrina. People are seeing a strange
coincidence between Katrina and Gustav because of Gustav’s arrival
three years later, almost to the exact date. What they need to notice
is a storm of a different nature that started just before Katrina
hit the shoreline and continued for weeks afterward - the wave of
police brutality and shootings on unarmed black men. Eighteen days
before Gustav, on August 13th a New Orleans Judge, Raymond Bigelow,
threw out all charges against seven officers. History has taught
us that in N.O., a hurricane can be the least of your problems.
devastating has been the string of police and government-led shootings,
beatings and skirmishes. Though so far things have gone much smoother
than with Katrina, what kind of welcome awaits New Orleans’ citizens
after the storm? Back on 9/4/05 several people were shot in the
aftermath of Katrina while crossing the Danzinger Bridge, simply
to get food at a grocery store. Those would be Judge Bigelow’s boys.
Not only were they cops, but they failed to give any warning of
their presence; they just jumped out the back of a rental truck
and started shooting, killing two (including a 40-year-old-disabled
man, Ronald Madison, and 19-year-old, James Brissette), wounding
four more. Four
of the officers were charged with first-degree murder; three more
were charged with some level of attempted murder. I don’t know about
some of you, but I speculated on how sick these officers’ mindsets
had to have been to undertake such a despicable task. This is more
than just too much testosterone, this is outright insanity on two
- Firstly, using the disarray
produced by a tragic event as a pretext to initiate the shootings.
- Secondly, the officers apparent
hubris was fueled by what they knew to be long-held local sentiments
about blacks by mostly-white high officials within their town
immediate problem came with a national news network planting the
words “looters” and “finders” in the minds of not just viewers,
but dirty south law enforcement. Need I remind you, much of this
began with blacks simply trying to cross a bridge? Quite a few of
you may remember, just before Katrina, a crowd of mostly blacks
were trying to cross the Crescent County Connection Bridge which
goes into Jefferson Parish (a White Flight township from the ‘60’s).
The story goes that deputies under orders from a bizarre Chinese
southern bigot Sheriff named Harry Lee (deceased), prevented evacuees
from crossing that bridge, allegedly some of them fired shots into
the air. On the other hand, police officers from Gretna, a town
inside Jefferson Parish, were either preventing the N.O. citizens
from crossing the bridge or blocking the exits into Gretna.
who can forget video footage of N.O. Police beating Robert Davis,
a retired elementary school teacher on 10/09/05? Two officers, Robert
Evangilist and Lance Schilling, were fired; the other two were said
to be federal agents. Another enabler, Judge Frank Marullo, who
heard the case without a jury, walked Evangelist on 7/05. Schilling
shot himself days earlier on the 10th, just missing his discharge
(pun intended). Need I mention Blackwater? Eighteen days and 1.9
million Gustav evacuees later, police temperament - like levees
- can make or break a potentially successful return and recovery
from the storm.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Challenger.
to contact Mr. Stevenson.