Katrina: New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes

Apparently, none of New Orleans’ criminals heeded the order to evacuate. In addition to looting, carjacking, random gunfire, we now add rapes to the anarchy that the city has descended into in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes (AP)

New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday, as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out and storm survivors battled for seats on the buses that would carry them away from the chaos. The tired and hungry seethed, saying they had been forsaken. “This is a desperate SOS,” mayor Ray Nagin said.

“We are out here like pure animals,” the Rev. Issac Clark said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where he and other evacuees had been waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead.

Four days after Hurricane Katrina roared in with a devastating blow that inflicted potentially thousands of deaths, the frustration and anger mounted, despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting, plans for a $10 billion recovery bill in Congress and a government relief effort President Bush called the biggest in U.S. history. New Orleans’ top emergency management official called that effort a “national disgrace” and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.

About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans convention center to await buses grew increasingly hostile. Police Chief Eddie Compass said he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly driven back by an angry mob. “We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten,” Compass said. “Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon.”

A military helicopter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet off the ground and flew away. In hopes of defusing the situation at the convention center, Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city’s unflooded west bank for whatever relief they could find. But the bedlam made that difficult. “Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don’t anticipate enough buses,” Nagin said in a statement.

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center, a makeshift staging area for those rescued from rooftops, attics and highways. The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement.

Considering that the hurricane hit Monday and the flooding didn’t really start until Tuesday, I would scarcely call the federal response a “national disgrace.”

Indeed, we’ve had many hurricanes and other natural disasters over the couple of decades I’ve been old enough to pay attention and there has been nothing like this in terms of the sheer level of mayhem caused by the citizens themselves. While the flooding has been as large scale a disaster as any I’ve seen in the United States, it is inconceivable how rape, gunplay, and looting are reasonable responses. Nor do I view any of those things as a federal responsibility.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. pslade says:

    Maintaining law and order in a Federal disaster area is now, and always has been, a Federal responsibility.

    The very real bankruptcy of the “small government” idea has been made readily apparent. It’s time is over.

    Dems are “weak on defense?” We could have that argument. How about the GOP as “weak on basic services?” Looks about right.

  2. Anderson says:

    Same mindset as the fall of Baghdad. Who could anticipate looting? Gosh!

    With an adequate federal response, things would be *almost* as bad as we’ve seen, but the city would’ve been full of troops by Tuesday night, and the miserable people at the convention center & Superdome would’ve had sufficient food, water, & necessities. Those would make a world of difference, & they’re blindingly obvious. I don’t think the people watching their fellows die at the convention center share the common complacency about the federal response; nor should they.

  3. cirby says:

    Maintaining law and order in a Federal disaster area is now, and always has been, a Federal responsibility.

    Actually, no.

    It’s been firmly in the hands of the individual states and lower levels for a very long time. The Federal job is to help, but the people who are tasked with the job are mostly state and local employees. The decision to deploy the National Guard is the Governor’s job. The job of controlling the police is the job of the local authorities.

    The Feds can only offer asistance, not take over the whole job. It’s not their job.

  4. Rain says:

    It’s amazing how we can send our military and national guard to Iraq to fight and die, but we can’t seem to get them to New Orleans to help our own citizens. This is what happens when you have a President who’s too concerned with destroying other countries to take care of his own country. Perhaps, if the people in New Orleans were rich or had lighter skintones President Bush would actually do something to help them.

  5. ken says:

    A hurricane gives plenty of warning before it strikes. It was predicted that Katrina would hit landfall as a level 5 hurricane. We were lucky it struck as only a level 3 hurricane.

    That said, the federal government had plenty of time to organize a response to what they knew was coming, ie the worst disaster ever to hit the United States.

    That the Bush administration did nothing to prepare should not surprise any of us. They are rife with incompetents through and through.

  6. Anderson says:

    Cirby, I appreciate your points, but one of the reasons for planning in advance is to avoid this “not my job” problem. Nothing seems to be anyone’s job, which is why nothing is getting done:

    Host: Is there someone in charge?

    John Burnett: No. There is no one. There is no one in charge of this effort. They seem to be throwing it back between the national guard, city police and state police. The plan seems to be changing by the hour. These people were told to go to the superdome, then to the convention center, then they were told buses would pick them up, and so they are just livid that they keep being told things but nothing is happening…

    This isn’t 9/11. This was, as someone happily put it, “not only foreseeable, but foreseen.” This was the kind of event that FEMA should’ve been able to pull out Plan B-6 on and really shine with foresight and competence.

  7. Brian says:

    All interesting points. I love the fact that when tragedy hits America, everyone is quick to point the finger and slant the situation to their warped view. Liberals blame it all on Bush. Conservatives claim the people were warned and should have left.

    If American’s spent half as much time -doing- things to make American better, instead of bitching about how everything’s wrong, we’d all be living in a more satisfying place.

    It’s amazing to see how the Country responded to the destruction of 911 vs. how it’s handled the destruction caused by Katrina. New Yorkers jumped in, rolled their sleeves up and got the job done. I’m not sure what’s going on in the South…

    God help us all.

  8. bryan says:

    With an adequate federal response, things would be almost as bad as we’ve seen, but the city would’ve been full of troops by Tuesday night

    Um, no. The city was filled with up to 20 feet of water in places by Tuesday night. No power, and only one road in.

    I’m amazed at you people. Really. Sick.

  9. Anderson says:

    Um, no. The city was filled with up to 20 feet of water in places by Tuesday night. No power, and only one road in.

    If we’d wanted troops in, we’d’ve commandeered every helicopter in the surrounding states, grabbed people off bases, and GOTTEN THEM IN.

    Ever heard of Dunkirk?

    It would’ve been messy, but the United States of America could’ve done it.

    (And, back to planning. Obviously the basic problem was “N.O. underwater.” That was the given, and it was the job of the planners to figure how, inter alia, troops would be available within hours.)

  10. cirby says:

    Cirby, I appreciate your points, but one of the reasons for planning in advance is to avoid this “not my job” problem. Nothing seems to be anyone’s job, which is why nothing is getting done:

    Actually, I said quite clearly, whose job it is:

    The decision to deploy the National Guard is the Governor’s job. The job of controlling the police is the job of the local authorities.

    It’s right there. State and local, and the things the Feds are doing are *exactly* what they’ve been tasked to do for *decades*. Deciding it’s different right now is doing what you’re complaining about – passing the buck.

    Let’s look at the the first comment again:

    Maintaining law and order in a Federal disaster area is now, and always has been, a Federal responsibility.

    This is really, really wrong. You’re doing what you just complained about – letting the locals pass the buck, and pretend it wasn’t their fault. The Feds have been doing all of the background crap they have to do, to support a local response. Those efforts are starting to pay off, with troops coming in from out of state (sent by the Governors of their respective states), supplemented by a small number of Federal troops for some security jobs (since it’s against the law for them to be sent in as “law enforcement”).

    There are Navy ships on the way. They started out from the East Coast, and ships don’t move that fast. They left two days earlier than planned. Large trucks with supplies on them are on the road, and have been (waiting for the highways to be cleared and safe routes found, and people to get in there and tell them where to go)

    Food, water, supplies, manpower… these are all on the way, but the initial response is, and always has been, a job for the states.

  11. From the South says:

    This is a frightening example of how delicate the string is that holds civilization together. Less than three (3) days to anarchy.

    Have you noticed that many of the victims are not interested in helping themselves. Could not the strong at least put the litter in a pile?

  12. cirby says:

    If we’d wanted troops in, we’d’ve commandeered every helicopter in the surrounding states, grabbed people off bases, and GOTTEN THEM IN.

    Ever heard of Dunkirk?

    The big disaster? You betcha.

    If we tried what you want, we’d have ten thousand guys on the ground (after their copters ran out of fuel – helicopters don’t have that much range), no more functioning copters until we shipped in fuel for them, no vehicles (which means the ten thousand soldiers would have an effective radius of action of about a half mile), and they’d be the new refugees a day or two later when their food and water ran out.

    Or we could wait until they could bring in trucks, supplies, and the rest, so they could actually do something when they arrived. Like what’s actually happening right now.

    The problem is that you’re doing the reverse of planning. You’re improvising bad tactics, instead of following a real plan, like the Feds are doing. Just because you know nothing about it doesn’t mean it’s there. The fact that troops and supplies are starting to show up starkly demonstrates that there was a plan, and that it started into effect about an hour after people noticed that Katrina had gone to a Cat 4.

  13. Kade says:

    No, it is pretty much the states responsibility, and thank God. Look up the Posse Comatitus act.

  14. Nicholls says:

    Look, these people had the warning required. Where was Bush when this disaster was looming for three days beforehand?

    The NOLA Mayor is claiming that the city has been fighting the canal that acted as a primary funnel for the storm surge.

    Bush & Co. massively cut funding to the flood control program over the past few years and NOTHING they have done has the appearance of actions they take when their own interests are at stake. Plain and simple. The facts are there. We have former business partners, family and close friends profiting, our children soldiers dying, and lethargic reactions to citizen’s basic needs.

    Why do so many people insist on blindly following what anyone in the free world can tell you is a lie filled disaster.

  15. Brian says:

    From the South has it dead on. I understand the tragedy is overwhelming and horrible, but I’m getting a little tired of hearing about how the gov’t needs to come to the rescue.

    I haven’t heard one story in the news of people trying to help each other out or make the situation better. No good-will stories, no acts of heroism, no unselfish deeds. Only complaints about how the residents of LA need to be hand-held, spoon-fed and their butts wiped for them and that ALL the burden for their survival falls on the shoulders of the gov’t to come in and save the day.

    The gov’t has a responsibility, yes, I agree. And, they’ve fallen down thus far. But, the residents need to take some of the responsibility.

  16. spencer says:

    Brian — OK it is your responsibility.

    Tell us what you would have done if you were
    trapped under the roof of a flooded house with 2 children and your wife.

    How old are you anyway — about the 13 or 14 year old you sound like.

  17. Brian says:

    You’re probably right. I wasn’t there and I didn’t experience it first hand. It’s tough to decide what you’d do until you walked in someone else’s shoes.

    But, if I’m trapped in an attic watching death rise below my feet, I’m not just going to sit there and take it. I’m not going to drown in an attic – if nothing else, I’m going to fight death every step of the way. I’d kick the vent out and risk being electrocuted, stabbed, burn, drown, then sit there and wait for the inevitable.

    First day out, I’d gather a group of people and rob the Target, Wal Mart and grocery stores. Tons of stuff I’d steal – all food and water. Then I’d drag it down the shelter and forage out again. I wouldn’t wait for the slow, dim-witted gov’t come to give me my handout. It’d at least buy you a couple days.

    People rely too much on the gov’t to provide for them. The gov’t is nothing more than a big social wasteland where money and perks only make the old, fat, rich white guys richer – on both sides of the aisle.

    Americans have gotten fat and lazy. Too much of the good life. Hard work is a thing of the past for many. It’s actually sad.

  18. carol says:

    Thank you Brian for interjecting a voice of sanity here. The “Government” is never any good in the initial stages of any emergency. I am 60 years old and have observed a good many dramatic situations in my lifetime. The “Government” is always accused of not doing a good job!
    I can’t understand why we insist on believing that the “Government” will or can respond any better or quicker than they do.
    The only thing that works is individuals taking responsibility for themselves and helping those closest (physically) to them the best that they can until outside help can arrive. Complaining, aggravationg situations by not showing respect to others, and causing more mayhem only makes things worse.
    I”m beginning to lose my sympathy for the people of NO.

  19. anon says:

    I don’t know about Brian, but I would have evacuated when the feds told everyone to evacuated. They did call a mandatory evacuation, you know.

    And if Brian didn’t have enough money for a car, he probably wouldn’t have brought children into the world.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been “carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days,” he said that “the rest of the goddamn nation can’t get us any resources for security.”

    “We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don’t have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm,” Colonel Ebbert said. “It’s criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren’t force-feeding us. It’s like FEMA has never been to a hurricane.” FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    >NY Times

  21. Stevely says:

    Hilarious to see the Leftist droids out parroting the usual crap…”blah blah blah Bush blah blah blah.” A bunch of Captain Ahabs. They also have touchingly naive hand-wave solutions to the anarchy and violence there… Bush didn’t force those people to stay when they were told to flee, to form murder and rape gangs. Here’s a clue to you, Rain, ken and Nicholls: the only way to get the anarchy under control involves shooting a whole lot of the violent stay-behinds, most of whom happen to be poor and black. I’ll leave the calculation of the odds of a democratic party decision maker taking that decision to you.

  22. cirby says:

    Nicholls:

    Look, these people had the warning required. Where was Bush when this disaster was looming for three days beforehand?

    Nobody considered it a serious threat until the wee hours of Saturday morning, about 28 hours before landfall (when it went from a Category 2 to a Category 4 in about two hours). The first voluntary evac suggestion went out Saturday, and the mandatory order went out less than 24 hours before it hit. That is *not* “the warning required” which should have been 72 hours for the suggestion and 48 hours for the mandatory order.

    President Bush started out by declaring Louisiana and Mississippi to be disaster areas that afternoon, two days before the hurricane hit, and started mobilizing the Federal disaster response plans. He also directed the people who work for him to start prepping plans for the recovery, and got the governors of neighboring states started on mobilizing their National Guard units.

    By the time the hurricane hit, all of the wheels were turning, but they had to wait for the storm to strike ground, do the damage, and clear out before they could start figuring out which areas needed help the most.

    While that was going on, the state authorities were gathering their troops and getting the roads cleared out so people could get in. That part wasn’t even half-done until yesterday.

    The supplies and troops started to arrive yesterday, too, and are working their way in from the edges, finding good reliable routes, and setting up supply depots so that they have food, water, and gas to let the rescuers do their jobs. Without that support, you’re just adding more refugees, albeit dressed in camouflage with cool patches on the sleeves.

    Which is why the first serious parts of the recovery started today in many areas, about two days faster than any major recovery effort in history, and why you’re going to see the bulk of the Guard units start to arrive over the next day or two (a day or so faster than most should expect).

    Bush & Co. massively cut funding to the flood control program over the past few years and NOTHING they have done has the appearance of actions they take when their own interests are at stake.

    Actually, the fairly minor cuts of the Bush administration pale in comparison to the ones that did the damage – in 1995/96 – and guess who wasn’t President at the time?

    The 17th Street levee – the one that failed so dramatically and flooded most of the city? It was one of the most-recently repaired levees in the city, and was considered to be in great shape – except that the work had been too recent, and the grass hadn’t grown back in from the major rebuilding project.

    That, incidentally, was part of the reason the Army Corps of Engineers was so surprised by the sudden flooding. Up until that point, the real issue was southern Mississippi, not New Orleans.

  23. hondo -NYC says:

    Whatever happened to local and state government? The ultimate first responders, first hand on the scene planners. And all this with decades of knowledge of the potential problem, and the recent infusion these pass several years of untold millions of emergency security and response funding courtesy of 9/11? What idiot (city government) decided the Convention Center/Dome was the place to be. What kind of city government waits to the last minute to order an evacuation and then doesn’t apparently bother to see if it’s being carried out or commandeer the resources to carry it out? Want a scandal – NO is also a Mississippi river port! River boats, ferries, you name it – room for tens of thousands for a trip up river to safety. I have been involved with disaster relief and can tell you for a fact what is hapening right now – local and state agencies and local politicians are jockeying with Fed agencies for control, power (without responsibility), and funding (as they see fit). This is an epic failure at the local level by all involved who refuse to look in the mirror, and instead cast failure and blame outside.

  24. anjin-san says:

    >Hilarious to see the Leftist droids out parroting the usual crap

    This idiot sees humor in the situation??

    I think the idiot in question knows I am talking to him.

  25. cirby says:

    anjin-san quoted from a NYT article:

    Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been “carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days,” he said that “the rest of the goddamn nation can’t get us any resources for security.”

    They can’t force-feed you because the local department that had the job didn’t do enough prep or work out a usable plan.

    The office that screwed up was a local one. It’s called the New Orleans Homeland Security and Public Safety Department (note that it has nothing to do with the Federal department with a similar name), and is run by the guy doing the complaining.

    He’s bitching because he’s a “little bird,” when the whole thing is based on him being the actual adult bird.

  26. Bol says:

    If all of the jigs would stop looting, raping, and murdering like a bunch of animals and start to work together, I think that would help the situation now more than anything else could.

  27. anjin-san says:

    I am sure Cirby knows more about the situation then Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans (see my posting above).

  28. ATM says:

    Excuse me, we have a federal government, with responsiblity split between local and state governments, with the reason being that local and state governments would be more familiar with local problems and be more responsive and proactive in solving those problems. That doesn’t mean that local governments have to pay for everything, but it does mean that elected representatives of those regions have to push for federal funding for dealing with local problems. But they still have to come up with a plan in conjunction with state and local officials.

    As for NYC dealing with 9/11 better, give me a break. The most severe effects of 9/11 were concentrated in a small area of lower Manhattan. NO is flooded, bridges are out, electricity is out, it just is far worse than what New Yorkers had to put up with.

  29. KayBe says:

    To anderson
    There were no americans at dunkirk, cept for those in the british and canadian armies, I’m not sure if they would have been new yorkers or from the deep south……..

  30. anjins daddy says:

    Cirby is right. This wasn’t unforseen. This should have had a plan. The plan sucked. People are dying because of it.

    And nobody has the nuts to say that the office of HOmeland Security for NO screwed the pooch, pissed away the funds they were given to actually DO something with regards to threats of this nature for New Orleans, and all around just cluster-f*cked thousands of people.

    I’ve got no sympathy for the dickweeds from Louisiana and NO who were elected to public office…they deserve to be dumped into the middle of the superdome right about now.

    And I also have no sympathy for those who won’t acknowledge the elephant standing in the middle of the room: what “hip hop” culture really looks like when it’s not controlled by force.

    Why aren’t Russell Simons and 50 on TV telling their thug-nation to cool it? Why? Cause if they were there they’d be joining them.

  31. cirby says:

    anjin-san:

    I am sure Cirby knows more about the situation then Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans (see my posting above).

    No, but I sure can tell when someone screwed something up and is passing the buck. That local official (I’d like to remind you that he’s a local political appointee in a town famous for corruption and inefficiency, not an employee of the Federal government).

    You know how you could tell if that guy had done his job? The police would have reliable communications and a couple of weeks worth of supplies, there would be city gasoline supplies above the high water level, and a real disaster plan besides “hang around and don’t steal too much.”

    The first thing out of every cop’s mouth is “they don’t have a plan.” The “they” in that sentence is the guy you’re idolizing.

  32. DramaQueen says:

    First … I love how some have turned this into a Dem/Lib vs Rep/Conv thing.

    Bottom line…. there was warning, and plenty of it.
    EVERYONE failed at their job.

    At the highest level, the federal government should have been prepared to mobilize when called upon.

    Take it another step deeper. The state and local government should have had a diasaster recovery plan in place. For God’s sake you near the Ocean! I live in California, we have earthquake disaster recovery plans in place because of Brentwood and because of San Francisco. Is this the South’s 89′ Earthquake? After all the trouble last year in Florida, they should have been ready, or at least more ready that they were.

    And finally, the people. YOU HAD WARNING … Get the hell out of dodge. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the people to help the other people. That means you Mr Gang Banger, that drove out of your poor neighborhood (where you sell your ‘merchandise’) in your pimped out Escalade … and passed the poor family from next door. Why couldn’t you pick them up? The rest of New Orleans that isn’t flooded … why aren’t you helping? What if it were you?
    Some religions call it ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Other religions call it Karma. No matter HOW we say it, we all say the same thing ..WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND. But along with that, people need to help themselves before they can expect someone to help them.

    Violence and Rape … that’s not a reasonable reaction to anything in America. We have ALL at least been educated to that point. No one has an excuse.

  33. hondo -NYC says:

    atm – a small area with a working population of nearly 1 million, evacuated by foot and boat with three operational bridges and 4 thru roads north (it’s narrow downtown) with limited to no information, spotty communications, no idea if it was over or more to come … and all done in a handful of HOURS … without looting, roaming gangs etc etc. Oh – and without any prior warning or preparation for this type of event

  34. hondo -NYC says:

    Would we be having these discussions if NO and effected surrounding areas had been totally evacuated properly – had been totally warned properly – had been prepared properly? Who’s responsibilty was this?

  35. cirby says:

    At the highest level, the federal government should have been prepared to mobilize when called upon.

    They were. They did. Ahead of schedule, actually. The President announced the disaster declaration two days before the actual disaster, a couple of hours after they had some idea that it was going to happen. Federal disaster folks were getting ready Saturday night.

    The problem was that the first disaster (the primary storm strike) happened Monday, the second disaster (the levee collapse) happened Tuesday, and the third disaster happened about twenty years ago, when the people of southern Louisiana decided to not do any real preparedness.

    Shelters? There weren’t any in New Orleans, in the official sense. The Superdome and other places are called “last resort refuges,” and there were no plans for food, water, or the like.

    The entire south Louisiana plan was based on the idea of evacuating everybody. Seriously. They waited too long, and they didn’t have a real evacuation plan for anyone who didn’t have access to a car.

    “The overall strategy for dealing with a catastrophic hurricane is to evacuate as much of the at risk population as possible from the path of the storm and relocate them to a place of relative safety outside the projected high water mark of the storm surge flooding and hurricane force winds.”

    That’s pretty much it.

  36. Anderson says:

    If all of the jigs would stop looting, raping, and murdering like a bunch of animals and start to work together, I think that would help the situation now more than anything else could.

    Well, that certainly seems to summarize the prevailing attitude, now doesn’t it?

    And if Brian didn’t have enough money for a car, he probably wouldn’t have brought children into the world.

    Right. And let’s visit the sins of the parents upon the children.

    What evil people you are.

  37. Fred says:

    Got looting, killing, and rapeing going on by the thugs. They can die for all I care. Aligators eat up.

  38. Jasmine says:

    I believe looting creates chaos. But you could excuse some of it for food and water and hygeine. You could even somewhat understand the resentment and insanity of the shooters. It’s unexcusable but explainable. But how can anyone explain the rapes? That’s where the terror really sets in. Women cannot be blamed for anything related to the disaster or lack of disaster relief.
    I heard reports that two children (boy and girl) were raped in the superdome. The National Guard won’t let women roam the streets. One father rushing from NO to Children’s Hospital in Houston saw gunmen raping women along the way.
    This image is unshakeable and it hurts the relief effort more than any other reports of violence because as I said before there is no justification for it. It is a symptom of absolute chaos. That is why it is being included in nearly every headline!

  39. onwis says:

    Even the best possible plan for disaster relief would undoubtedly include a period of damage assessment and information gathering before plunging aid and security workers headlong into the city of NO. The real tragedy here is that it only took one day for the lawlessness to begin. Bullets do more to hinder the advance of aid workers than any flood waters or lack of power.

    Now the roaming bands of looters and rapists are not only preventing help from coming for them, but also for the numerous law abiding people who are still there. Yes, the hurricane was a disaster, but moral depravity is the tragedy. The former was bred over the Atlantic, the latter in individual homes and families in New Orleans.

    To blame the government for the tragedy is to ignore personal responsibility, and that lack thereof causes the criminals to act as they are now.

  40. LJD says:

    It’s obvious this country needs to heal its wounds in this time of crisis, for the good of the victims, but for some reason the left doesn’t want to. Too busy throwing grenades across the aisle. Too busy making up explanations for this senseless violence and destruction. Perhaps Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should be down there providing aid, morally uplifting their constituents, instead of fanning the flames.

  41. Anderson says:

    Okay, just curious: does anyone else in the OTB community have an opinion on the “jigs” theory advanced by our fellow commenter?

  42. LJD says:

    People should be labeled by their actions, not by the color of their skin. Any one who can steal for possessions or profit, who shoots at aid workers, starts fires, or rapes,… is acting like a “jig”. This is no time for racism, and no time for political correctness. Get over it.

    To reiterate my previous point, we are seeing the underbelly of American society here. Rather than make excuses, or point fingers, we should be looking at solutions. There needs to be some member of the black community stepping forward to call for calm and civility. Very likely they are there, doing just that, but for some reason it’s not newsworthy. Again, Jackson and Sharpton should be ashamed. Maybe they need a Cosby-like awakening.

  43. Anderson says:

    LJD, your references to Jackson and Sharpton seem to belie your race-neutrality. I don’t know why you single them out.

    But N.O. is 70% black; when you leave only the poorer residents, that % skews up dramatically. So naturally, most looters & thugs will be black.

    As for the alleged problem of the Left’s failing to unify, etc., well, we did that on 9/11, only to be called traitors. Screw that. If this disaster had been handled properly, there would be little to complain about right now. As it stands, the President has said that what’s been done isn’t acceptable. I agree.

  44. Patrick says:

    So if I’m understanding this correctly, a bunch of predatory thugs AND their victims (incl. many children, elderly, sick) are being conflated as “THEM” (or better yet “the jigs”)? And it’s the fault of hip hop culture?? Shiiiiit.

  45. hondo -NYC says:

    Some may have made overt racist comments – inevitable – but nothing is going to change this fact – this is all being filmed – the whole world and America are watching – NO is a black-run city, with a hugh black majority, and the peolpe we are seeing are black. Every stereotype and negative opinion imagined is being played out before our eyes. Some can attempt to re-package this, glaze over it, explain away, or better yet, blame Bush – but it is not going to work. Where I live is an affluent upscale very liberal neighborhood – they all have the proper opinions and believes and are all eager to tell you. But they are also quietly eager to tell you of their increased fears and nightmare senerios of those two housing projects off in the distance and “that” neighborhood along the waterfront. Everyone is watching NO.

  46. Natalie says:

    The Federal government needs to take over in order for the situation to be handled properly. It is wrong how the fed. gov. responded so late- people have dyed and others are living in filth. It’s wrong. The National Guard and FEMA should be ashamed of themselves!

  47. Natalie says:

    It doesn’t matter the race/ethnicity of the looters- these people are acting out of desperation. When people have no hope, they behave in a multitude of ways. People are shooting at the helicopters b/c they’re stuck on roofs- how would you feel being stuck on a roof for several days while watching neighboors get rescued? You’d be pretty pissed too. Also, there’s a small number of thugs/looters making trouble. There are thousands of people who aren’t doing anything but waiting for help! We should concentrate on those people and not the few thugs causing problems. You have to understand the psychology of people. When you’re pissed off, desparate and hopeless (b/c of a lack of help), then people tend to do things for survival purposes. I read a story where hotel managers told their guests to go to the local market and steal food, b/c they didn’t have any. So the guests did just that! The government has just now stepped in, but it’s a bit too late. People have been dying. It’s horrible.

  48. hondo -NYC says:

    So typical making excuses and rationalizing for thugs – and there are not a few of them but many. When people (any people) have needs out of desperation they can work together to survive. But self-serving opportunistic thievery began almost immediately – and they are gonna need food and water too when they run out in a day or two – and quess where they are going to turn when they’ve had their fill of TVs and stereos – be prepared for the most massive black-on-black violence ever seen outside the 3rd world – rationalize that with a straight face.

  49. Son says:

    I’ve noticed that a common theme on this thread is “Why the hell are they raping and pillaging?”

    Why the hell not? Why should they stop? If people need to be helping, why the hell aren’t you driving your ass over there to help? We all know how much space your huge SUV has.

    Oh wait, that’s right. You people will act noble, and then go back to minding your own business.

    Here’s the real deal. The people of the state that are willing to rape, loot, and pillage have had the urge for a long, long time now. It didn’t suddenly just pop into their minds. Similar to Los Angeles riots, it probably has something to do with oppression on some level (read:Bush). Are they correct in rioting? Are their actions Just? I think so. Were a hurricane that created that much pure chaos to hit my home, I’d be the first in the street with my shotty ready to start some looting. Only because I live in a very “red” state, though. I’d never consider it at home in Philly.

  50. 504eva says:

    wow. some of you guys really dont care about my city
    the reason theres so much chaos in new orleans is because we didn’t get any help for so long.
    I agree, most of the stuff they show on tv is horrible, but it’s not so bad to break into wal-mart to get baby food.
    Maybe you all cant imagine your city and all your possessions destroyed, but it’s rough, and some people can’t deal. I still haven’t found everyone.
    Please have a little more heart for New Orleans
    P.S. And Fred, thanks for your comment about the allegators can eat my people. I really appreciate that, especially since some of my family and friends are stuck there. I’m praying for you

  51. Jasmine says:

    looting is necessary,
    but rape is never necessary you fools!

    there are sexual offenders in every city. the rapists at the superdome included child molesters. a doctor on site counted 12 rapes in 2 days. it makes me mad that criminal background checks weren’t run a week prior & the site wasn’t set up then. you don’t just house the bloods with the crips either. gang violence doesn’t stop in a flood or hurricane.
    rape traumatizes witnesses and many people witnessed them (that’s the second complaint out of everyone’s mouth next to “i need water”). imagine you just saw a category five rip apart your house and next a rape. then, you have to sleep next to dead people. and you’re starving for 5 days. the psychological effects of this chaos are going to be permanent. i doubt they have funding for that, though i heard the drug companies have stated “tell us what you need.” prozac, morphine, lower drug prices all the time!

  52. Fred says:

    The gang bangers and rapist need to meet a quick end. They don’t deserve any help. Too many inocent people need the help and support. I don’t care what background they came from, but the lawlessness needs to stop.

  53. Mr. Mardi Gras says:

    Reading through this discussion has been almost as devastating as watching Katrina rip my city to pieces. I never could have imagined that in one day, my parents, my younger sister, all 4 of my grandparents, as well as many other family memebers and friends would lose everything they had worked for. I know it is just stuff but people have lost the large majority of all their material possesions. And to see the insensitivity some people have shown towards the people of New Orleans in nothing less than appalling. To thoughtlessly condemn an entire city based on what you see on the news is insulting and irresponsible. Imagine your family and friends being affected by something such as this and me saying, “Let them die! Let the alligators feed on em!” Trust me, its not a good feeling. Help should have been sent earlier, it’s not like no one knew a hurricane of that magnitude would make New Orleans a giant urban swamp, and the looting of electronics and other non-essential items is in no way defendable, nor are the rapes and other senseless crimes, but now is not the time to have such discussions. We can argue about liberals, conservatives, republicans, and democrats , and other political stuff AFTER the people who were for one reason or another unable to leave are taken care of. It seems just a little ridiculous to argue about bush right now when some of my friends are still unaccounted for.

  54. Okie says:

    I think all of you are making fine points but the truth is that this was not seen coming. They were told to “get out of dodge” and many did that could but many who could did not. they were going to ride it out like always. who knew the flooding would be so bad? The flooding and then the looting kept feds at bay. Everyone cried 4 days with no food or water!!!! big deal….i know its hot in NO… Oklahoma is not that far away it is hot here to…but i do not need ice or food and water i am young and strong i could go 4 days with out food and water easy….the young and old are the only ones who have a right to cry for food and water after 4 days….help was on the way but if all else failed i would have started my azz to walking north out of that dome or covention center…i would have found someway to get my old and young out there before the storm hit…its sad that people who live with that threat did not prepare or take it serious enough……and yes i think alot of the looting was right if you need food and water take it but i saw pics of guys with 30 pairs of jeans and a trunk full of beer and tv’s….i blame it on the poor blacks and i do not think that it is Americas(or white americas) fault that the blacks were poor…lots of them are young and strong ….they could have toughed it out or took off walking instead they stayed and when it was all over the raped looted and killed….and i would like to say that okies are not heartless…we got in there before any other state to help…alot of okies see things the way i do but we have not forgotten what america did for us in 95

  55. 504eva says:

    Okie- calm down. You’d cry for food too if u didn’t have it. It’s great to sit in front of your computer in your dry home saying that u could go for four days without eating and not complain at all, but for someone who’s gone through it, it’s not easy. so if you’re not helping, stop hurting