Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 9, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

SAVAGERY....For the past couple of days I've vaguely noticed some stories circulating about police preventing people from leaving New Orleans after Katrina hit, but there have been so many urban legendish anecdotes like this making the rounds that I didn't pay much attention to it.

Big mistake. Not only is the story true, it's worse than you can imagine. It wasn't New Orleans cops keeping people in, it was cops from other cities keeping people out:

"We shut down the bridge," Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International.

...The bridge in question the Crescent City Connection is the major artery heading west out of New Orleans across the Mississippi River.

Lawson said that once the storm itself had passed Monday, police from Gretna City, Jefferson Parrish and the Louisiana State Crescent City Connection Police Department closed to foot traffic the three access points to the bridge closest to the West Bank of the river.

...."If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged."

[According to an eyewitness account from a pair of San Francisco paramedics who tried to leave the city], As they made their way to the bridge in order to leave the city "armed Gretna sheriffs (sic) formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads."

Members of the group nonetheless approached the police lines, and "questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge ... They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City.

"These were code words," the paramedics wrote, "for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans."

This story exposes a calculated savagery far worse than anything that happened in New Orleans. Stuff like this makes me fear for the future of the human race.

Kevin Drum 8:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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