Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Bridge over Troubled Waters: Closed

When tales of roving bands of thugs up to no good were being told in the days after Katrina, the actions of the Gretna police may seem more acceptable. They blockaded the Mississippi River bridge and fired warning shots over people trying to cross it from New Orleans.

However, now that we know those tales were exaggerated and the roving bands of thugs were just groups of evacuees looking for shelter, the bridge incident isn't going away:

The Aug. 31 confrontation in which Gretna police blocked the Crescent City Connection, preventing evacuees from fleeing deluged New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, remains under investigation by Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti.

***

The probe is expected to determine whether the civil rights of evacuees were violated. Foti has said criminal charges could be filed against officers.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, and state Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, have filed a lawsuit against the city of Gretna and its Police Department in federal court, saying the officers used "unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive force while refusing plaintiffs to travel through" the city, violating their rights.
The discrimination issue aside, why didn't the Gretna police just help these people in need? These weren't people from outside the disaster area trying to get in. They were people from inside the disaster area trying to get out. While so many law enforcement agencies were working together to help those affected by the storm, the Gretna police were refusing aid. I don't get it.

One can only assume that the Gretna police thought the people coming over the bridge looked like trouble. And, if they were going by looks, then the discrimination lawsuit has a chance.

1 comment:

Polimom said...

(imvho) I actually think they were scared to death. We (the public) were told much after the fact that the stories from the Superdome and the Convention Center were exaggerated. While the MSM has (sort of) tried to correct the reporting done then, they cannot undo the damage caused at the time.

What Gretna said was that there was nothing to offer folks trying to come out of the city: no power, no food, no water... etc. There was also no large facility in which to shelter anyone, I don't think (though I don't think anybody has mentioned that). (?anybody?)

All of that may be true, but most importantly there was no flooding.

Was it discriminatory? Racist? Considering all the hype and MSM hysteria fuelling the fears in those early days, it's probably gonna be impossible to judge from where we stand today. Gretna has done little (judging from recent quotes from various residents) to correct the perception of the area as appallingly racist, though.