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Thursday, September 08, 2005
Welcome to Gretna
Libertarian Samizdata reports an outrage from the township of Gretna, on "day 4" after the hurricane Katrina's 29 August landfall - corresponding with 1 September a week ago. These claims came from two "socialist workers" in the SEIU, which is a union predominant among state employees. Their account shows that they had acquired their knowledge of Louisiana law enforcement from TV Westerns, and this account further includes all manner of Bush-bashing and otherwise tendentious boilerplate. I'm bothering with this account because the core of it has been verified by hostile witnesses elsewhere.
Gretna is the county seat of Jefferson Parish. Gretna's mayor is Ronnie C Harris, and the chief of Gretna police is Arthur S. Lawson, Jr. The Jefferson Parish president is Aaron Broussard and its sheriff is Harry Lee.
On this early-September day, a police chief and his officers met a crowd of hundreds of New Orleans refugees on the Pontchartrain Expressway at the foot of "
Dale Amon lists the pertinent background information:
We so far have corroborating data that there was an EMS conference; people from the conference were staying in the hotel at which the bus event occurred; people were left outside by the hotel; there were shots fired at the bridge and there was a crowd there which was a mix of people trying to get to a refugee center. President Bush was at the airport on the day that corresponds to the timeline in the story.
To which, I would add: a few days before "day 4" (11:16 AM, 30 August), Chief Lawson had told the media that his force had "
A Gretnan view.
One of the locals, a certain Kevin, had this to say about the event:
Glenn Reynolds says, "hold your outrage for now", because of the problems with the SEIU members' account. I am instead going to analyse what Kevin had to say.
Kevin claims to be a local with local concerns. He repeatedly points out how his house is still standing and how much he has invested in that house. He further drives home the point that all his critics live on the outside and don't understand his area. His concerns are material, not abstract.
Notable phrases in his posting are "callous" (repeated), a word which he has likely adopted from the SEIUers' account of the GPD as also applying to himself; "do-gooders", a term of derision for such outsiders as criticise the GPD's actions; and "murderers" and "looters" who did damage in New Orleans and whom he fears would have carried out similar actions in Gretna.
He does not bring race into his account, and he professes "
Kevin and Tim Scheer also fingered the Gretna PD, and not the county authorities (pace Bruce R, in LibSamz comments). It wasn't Sheriff Lee who did this.
I hold Kevin to be who he says he is: a local of Gretna who knows what the GPD did and approves of it.
RC Dean had this comment:
Now, this is a blog post, and a work in progress. However, from what I can see, based on Kevin's post and Dean's rebuttal alone, there is enough cause for outrage against the citizens and leadership of Gretna.
The chief of police in Gretna, with the full approval of his citizens, blocked a public road to keep a crowd of hundreds of starving, mostly African-American refugees from safety. His mayor had presumably handed over to him the authority if not the order to carry this out.
This isn't just Selma-bad; this is close to Rosewood-bad. Ronnie C Harris, mayor of Gretna, and Arthur S. Lawson, chief of police in Gretna, ought to be indicted for capital charges. Federal charges. This case deserves a Nuremburg-style tribunal, with all that implies.
POSTSCRIPT: Political Ties is all over another part of the story, the state government's role in the debacle. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco had deliberately kept the Red Cross out of New Orleans so as to force the locals out onto the highways... you know, the highways, which Chief Lawson was currently blocking.
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