Sunday, September 18, 2005

After Blocking the Bridge, Gretna Circles the Wagons - Los Angeles Times

"We took care of our folks. It's something we had to do."

The leas the rest of the nation can do is let the bastards in Gretna, La. bre responsibe for their own reconstruction.

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great
excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals
saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge.
. . .
As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the
foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing
their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various
directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there
was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. 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 for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain
under an overpass.
. . .
All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same
trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away.
Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally
berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.
. . .
Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts.
. . .
Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and
individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or
90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was
talking about us.
. . .
Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol
vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway".
A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy
structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food
and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law
enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more.
. . .

Fuck them.
See also, TAL

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