In an 18-month investigation appearing this week on the cover of The Nation (directed and underwritten by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute), reporter A.C. Thompson paints a terrifying picture of New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina. Black residents, desperate to flee the Lower Ninth Ward, were gunned down with impunity by white vigilantes in the Algiers Point neighborhood, which stood between the Lower Ninth Ward and the nearest rescue point. In Katrina’s Hidden Race War and a companion piece, Body of Evidence, Thompson uncovers at least eleven unreported, un-investigated vigilante shootings.
This exclusive Nation Institute video features Thompson talking with two victims of post-Katrina violence describing their experiences fleeing vigilantes as well as some of the unrepentant shooters defending their actions.
You can also hear Thompson elaborate on his findings in an interview this morning with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!
Despite shocking and an abundant amount of evidence, Louisiana’s law enforcement agencies have inexplicably refused to investigate the alleged crimes. Some members of Congress have fortunately been less negligent. Rep. John Conyers, the incoming Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a public statement Thursday, expressing concern and vowing to looking into the matter.
“I am deeply disturbed by the reported incidents in Algiers Point, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina,” said Conyers, a Michigan Democrat. Algiers Point residents, Conyers continued, “allegedly shot randomly at African Americans who had fled to the area escaping the effects of the storm. Several injuries and deaths were reported. I am particularly concerned about accounts that local police fueled, rather than extinguished, the violence.”
Conyers’ concern is helping focus attention on the issue and our friends at Color of Change have launched a petition demanding that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, and, if necessary, the US Department of Justice investigate the shootings in the face of the dereliction of duty of the local authorities. Please click here to join the call for justice in New Orleans.