Skip to comments.A Perfect Storm of Lawlessness: New Orleans’ vicious looters aren’t the real face of the city’s poor
Posted on 09/03/2005 7:59:24 AM PDT by billorites
New Orleans hasnt even been disarmed yet, but the story of those who looted, trashed, and terrorized the city this week is already being re-written. Al Sharpton went on MSNBC Thursday night to say that looters are people who pay their taxes whose infrastructure caved in on them. The final PC version of the story is likely to go like this: The desperate people left behind in New Orleans, nearly all black, had justification in brutally attacking their city because the help they frantically sought didnt come.
In truth, the looters, rapists, and murderers who have terrorized New Orleans since Monday began their post-Katrina reign of terror a full day before the situation grew truly desperateand it was their increasingly lawless behavior that kept willing but unarmed professional and volunteer rescue workers away from the city and from the poor people who needed saving.
Lets go back to last Sunday morningsuch a long time ago, it now seems. Most New Orleanians with meansthe most resourceful poor, the middle class, and the affluentleft the city of nearly half-a-million residents that day, 24 hours before Katrina hit. They took planes, they drove, they hitchhiked, and some walked. Save for the home and business owners who valued their property more than their lives, most of the 100,000 or so who stayed behind were those not only poor in financial resources but in human capital as well.
Some who stayed behind are the New Orleanians who depend on the government on a good dayimpoverished women, children, and elderly folks who went to the Superdome and to the Convention Center Sunday, expecting their government to take care of them. And those were the smart onesthose who moved rationally and proactively, despite a lack of transportation out of the city and a lack of government co-ordination, to secure their own physical safety. Thousands of others who stayed in their low-lying homes in the 9th Ward (which predictably flooded, as it flooded 40 years ago during Hurricane Betsy) drowned or now find themselves trappedstarved and dying of dehydration.
And the others who stayed behind, unfortunately, are those who terrorize New Orleans on a low-grade level on a good dayand have now taken over the stricken city. Whats happened is the predictable civil deterioration of a city whose fragile civil infrastructure cant control or contain its core criminal class in peacetime.
Katrina didnt turn innocent citizens into desperate criminals. This weeks looters (not those who took small supplies of food and water for sustenance, but those who have trashed, burned, and shot their way through the city since Monday) are the same depraved individuals who have pushed New Orleans murder rate to several multiples above the national average in normal times. (New Orleans, without Katrina, would have likely ended 2005 with 330 or so murderscompared to about 65 in Boston, a city roughly the same in size.) Today may not be the best day to get into New Orleans intractable crime problem, but its necessary, since it explains how this weeks communications and policing vacuum so quickly created a perfect storm for the vicious lawlessness that has broken out.
During the mid-1990s, New Orleans made some progress in cutting down its murder rate from its one-time peak as the Murder Capital of America. With the help of the feds, the city weeded out the worst of its police force (including two murderers) and implemented some new policing techniques borrowed from successful cities like New York, including COMSTAT. But New Orleansand the state judicial systemhas never cemented a sustainable institutional infrastructure to build on early progress, and the murder rate had risen perceptibly again.
New Orleans, first off, doesnt have the middle-class or affluent tax base to afford the professional police or prosecution force it needscrime has created a vicious cycle, pushing out taxpayers who fund the police. Nor have the city and state cemented the command-and-control direction of financial and human resources that police, detectives, and prosecutors need to do their jobs.
In New York, the mayor, police, and prosecutors know that taking one killer off the streets means preventing more killings, because a murderer frequently murders again. In New Orleans, killers and other violent criminals remain free, because in many cases, they arent arrested or tried; conviction rates remain abysmal. The lawlessness these criminals create in pockets of the city breeds more killers and more lawlessness. Witnesses and crime victims in the inner city fear to come forward: they know that even if a criminal winds up arrested, his associates will be free to intimidate them.
On a normal day, those who make up New Orleans dangerous criminal classyes, likely the same African-Americans we see looting nowterrorize their own communities. Once in a while, a spectacular crime makes headlinesthe shooting death of a tourist just outside the French Quarter, or the rape and murder of a Tulane student. But day in and day out, New Orleans black criminal class victimizes other blacks. Churches put up billboards in the worst neighborhoods that plead: Thou shalt not kill. The inner-city buses shuttle what look like hundreds of war veterans around the cityyoung black men, many of them innocent victims, paralyzed in wheelchairs.
This week, this entrenched criminal class has freely roamed the streetsand terrorized everyone. On Monday, New Orleans still had food and water stocked in stores across the city, but young looters began sacking stores, trashing the needed food and stealing TVs, DVDs, and other equipment. If the uncoordinated, understaffed New Orleans police had even a prayer of keeping order, it was Monday. By Tuesday, the looters had armed themselves with ample weapons supplies available in stores all across the city; by Wednesday, the armed gangs, out of food and water like everyone else, were not only viciously dangerous but desperate, hungry, and thirsty.
But while the looters have reportedly killed police offers and have shot at rescue workers, theyre mainly victimizing, as usual, other poor blacks. The vicious looters arent the face of New Orleans poor blacks. Their victims are: the thousands of New Orleanians who made their way to shelter before the storm, and who rescued others and brought them to shelter during and after the stormbut who now cannot get the help they desperately need.
This weeks looting was predictable. When Hurricane Georges, another potentially catastrophic storm (it spared New Orleans at the last minute) was about to hit in 1998, I foolishly refused to evacuate my Uptown apartment. More than one person said I should evacuate not due to the storm, but because looters would terrorize the city afterward.
Was this weeks looting preventable? Failure to put violent criminals behind bars in peacetime has led to chaos in disaster. New Orleans officials had only the remotest prayer on Monday of coordinating police officers with no electronic equipment to rescue survivors while at the same time stopping looting before it descended into wholesale terror. Now, those uncoordinated police officers are themselves victimsaccording to multiple accounts, dead officers, their bodies marked with gunshot wounds, litter the city.
Armed marauders have now taken over every dry area of a deluged city. Theyve hampered rescue efforts: without wanton looting, there was at least a chance that individual police officers could have distributed food in stores to those who needed it most. And theyve likely hampered rebuilding efforts down the road: theyve smashed much of intact Uptown and the French Quarter, which will surely be a pyschological barrier for those who knew that the storm didnt destroy their homes and their livelihoodsfellow citizens did.
Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco lost whatever fragile authority they ever had over New Orleans early Monday, as the waters still rose. The federal government was unacceptably slow at assessing a rapidly deteriorating situation. Now, no civil authorities can re-assert order in New Orleans. The city must be forcefully demilitarized, even as innocent victims literally starve. What has happened over the past week is an embarrassment to New Orleansand to America.
I have not heard this reported yet, except for an officer getting shot.
I was hoping the Guard would shoot and kill all the rapist looters er.... I mean "liberation fighters". Scuse me Al.
I should have been replying to bilorites. My bad.
I agree. Excellent article, and now that we have the National Guard on the streets, order will be restored!
Soon all the true victims will be either evacuated or dead, then the punisher can do his grim job and disinfect this city.
I lived through that, and have many stories to tell. Oh yes, there where gangs of people roaming around, just looking for something to do to help.
We saved my brother's house by intensively sandbagging using an army of volunteers that just showed up.
I pulled "pump watch" in the middle of the night and heard on the radio at 3 AM that volunteers were urgently needed in a certain area of town. I had just moved from a major urban area so I thought "no way". An hour later they put out the call for no more as they had too many people there.
The National Guard showed up to provide security, but usually carried no weapons during the day.
Yes, New Orleans has a lot of criminals and has done a poor job of controlling them, but the truth is that crime flourishes amongst blacks in part because they tolerate it, and they tolerate it because they see it as a revolt against white America. Here is a dirty little secret that most Americans don't know: the majority of reported black violence over the last few decades has been directed at whites. Articles like this, whose message is just "it's the criminals" are politically correct averting of the eyes from the deeper issues. What you're seeing in New Orleans is the real face of multiculturalism when authority breaks down.
A few month's ago I posted the following reply on a thread here:
Exactly. There has been a lot of loose talk about America being an empire, it is an empire, but an internal one, a culture-less collection of disparate peoples held together by force and money, and when the money gives out, people will be stunned by how quickly it all falls apart.
And got the following resonse:
A bit harsh don't you think. America does have a distinctive culture and national identity forged through its institutions, laws, people, history, and the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. I don't buy your premise that America is held together by force and money.
"Here is a dirty little secret that most Americans don't know: the majority of reported black violence over the last few decades has been directed at whites."
I had not heard that. Any source for your statement?
Google "The Color of Crime".
Our society (thanks soccer moms) is far to tolerant of it's degenerate gangsta sub-culture. We make it's more talented members wealthy heros and role models, via rap music, movies and sports. In many ways the gangsta sub-culture was brought to us by Hollywood and the NBA, bleeding heart soccer moms tolerate it at the voting booth. Maybe now that we can see exactly what is in store for all of us, soccer moms get raped first, maybe we as a society will become far less tolerant. One can only hope.
In truth, the looters, rapists, and murderers who have terrorized New Orleans since Monday began their post-Katrina reign of terror a full day before the situation grew truly desperateand it was their increasingly lawless behavior that kept willing but unarmed professional and volunteer rescue workers away from the city and from the poor people who needed saving
We need to keep repeating that truth over and over and over again -- because the MSM in their total orgasm of blame-Bush frenzy is trying to obscure that fact.
We're hearing --unconfirmed reports-- that bus convoys coming to rescue people from the Super Dome had to be stopped because of threats by thugs that they would murder people inside if the buses arrived.
How in God's name are you supposed to effect a fast, efficient rescue of these people when thugs are shooting at the rescuers?
And can you imagine the media's uproar if helicopters had tried to land earlier, without the area being secured first --and then people had run headlong into the chopper blades in their rush to get there first?
Is there the slimest of possibilities that these figures are anywhere in the public domain ?
This weeks looters (not those who took small supplies of food and water for sustenance, but those who have trashed, burned, and shot their way through the city since Monday) are the same depraved individuals who have pushed New Orleans murder rate to several multiples above the national average in normal times.
This is a good time to re-read the account of the over-throw of Sodom and Gomorrah - - - since it makes clear that the sexual depravity usually attached to these city names was only one facet of a much larger problem. People tend to forget the other elements of the story.
Consider how easily the description of Lot's fear at the fate of the visitors if they were to remain outside his house lines up with the fear of New Orleans residents for the threatening behavior of their neighbors. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to translate this sequence of events (vs 1-11) to the Superdome, as described in recent reports!
Then look at the previous chapter, where Abraham bargains for the sparing of the cities (Gen 18:16-32), and the Lord agrees to spare them if even 10 righteous individuals can be found in them.
This was not a community of people merely with bent sexual appetities - - - such were only symptoms of the larger problem of people entirely ruled by their appetites, whether for weird sex, entitlement to a life of plunder-supported idleness, storehouses full of plundered booze, weapons, and other goodies, or the thrill of slaughtering neighbors and raping their children.
Note, too, the sad condition of the "closest approximation to righteousness" available: Lot, who offers his daughters to the mob in the name of hospitality, and has to be dragged reluctantly out of the doomed city, even then begging to be released into another nearby city that, from the angel's response, was not much better than Sodom (but which was spared for the sake of Lot). How familiar all this sounds, after the reports of the past few days!
Finally, in looking back at these events, the prophets identified the wider issues, e.g.,
Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
New Orleans is not the only far-gone liberal plantation cruising for a bruisuing; it just got the distinction of being one of the first to have its vulnerabilities exposed by the turn of events.
1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 2 And he said, Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servants house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.
And they said, No, but we will spend the night in the open square.
3 But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4 Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.
6 So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, 7 and said, Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! 8 See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.
9 And they said, Stand back! Then they said, This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them. So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. 10 But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.
Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed
12 Then the men said to Lot, Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the citytake them out of this place! 13 For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city! But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
15 When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city. 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wifes hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he[a] said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.
18 Then Lot said to them, Please, no, my lords! 19 Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. 20 See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.
21 And he said to him, See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. 29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.
In otherwords, much of the crime we are seeing - rapes, robberies, arsons, assaults, and murders - would have taken place anyway, just spread out over the city. New Orleans is now being hyper-reported, with each bit of criminal news repeated and magnified. Fires that would have been put out by local resources, now burn out of control. Gunshots that would scarcely draw attention on a normal night in the city now cause rescue efforts to be suspended. Yeah, the looting appears to be bad, but I have seen that same Winn-Dixie shown dozens of times by different news outlets.
Unfortunately for my supposition, all of New Orlean's websites are down, so I can't show statistics. No, I don't think what we are seeing is a reflection of the city's poor, but a magnified version of the worst of it.
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