[FoRK] Why do people loot when the city is dying?

Regina Schuman rschuman
Wed Aug 31 12:03:48 PDT 2005

A CNN reporter said yesterday that what he saw was more indicative of
people looking for food and other essentials than looting. He saw a lot
of people handing off what they "looted" (food, water and blankets) to
others waiting in a line.

"We distort, you decide."

On a really horrid note: this morning CNN interviewing a policeman in
Slidell, who said (I swear) that as soon as he finished with the
interview he was going to check on his 80-YEAR OLD BLIND NEIGHBOR WHO
MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE.  The interview continued leisurely for another
five minutes, perhaps while the elderly blind man struggled for his last
breath.  As the report concluded, the CNN reporter said "Hey!  Can my
camera man follow you while you look for your neighbor?"  

give us (dead and) dirty laundry.


>>> <kelley at inkworkswell.com> 8/31/2005 2:38:23 PM >>>
At 01:24 PM 8/31/2005, Corinna wrote:
>... including the cops...

>  "The police got all the best stuff. They're crookeder than us," one
>said. Most officers, though, simply stood by powerless against the
tide of
>law breakers.
>One veteran officer said, "It's like this everywhere in the city. This
>number of cops can't do anything about this. It's wide open."
>Some groups, the reporters wrote, "organized themselves into assembly
>to more efficiently cart off goods. Inside the store, one woman was
>up on make-up. She said she took comfort in watching police load up
>own carts. 'It must be legal,' she said. 'The police are here taking

I thought this was interesting:

This is interesting:

Looting is perhaps the most expected behavior subsequent to a disaster
probably the most misreported post disaster event. Surveys indicate
(Quarantelli) that 70-90 percent of people in a disaster will hear
unsubstantiated stories about looting. After the Oakland Hills fire,
one TV
station reported looting, another reported on the lack of looting. I
able to inspect one burnt out neighborhood and found that there wasn't
to take. The relatively few instances of looting that does occur
articles of little value and are usually committed by non-local
forces. Similar to price gouging, the media shares much of the blame
this misinformation. According to Fischer, national and network
construct news stories that conform to their perception of what
occurs after a disaster instead of researching facts. Keep in mind
much of news reporting is entertainment focused. If it is reported by
media and believed by the public, local leaders must take steps to
to it, real or perceived, lending credibility to the assumption that
looting is pervasive. The incidence of looting (and other post
crime) is often misrepresented by those who have something to sell or
philosophical reason for you to believe in the impending breakdown of
social order. One survivalist web site claims that 'of the hundreds of
victims that I have dealt with [after Hugo], most had lost something
looters. During Hurricane Andrew, looting was common place and accepted
a way of life. One victim from an upper class neighborhood told me "I
shunned by my neighbors because I rejected an offer to cruise for
Substantiated cases of looting after Hurricane Georges: 0.
cases of looting after Hurricane Andrew: probably 0.

One of our duties as continuity planners is to educate and manage the
expectations of the 'masses.' Misinformation has caused people to drown
a storm surge trying to protect their property from potential looting.
has caused innocent victims and family members to be killed or injured
firearms. Important sociological and victimization theories do not
change -
persons are still more likely to be injured by an intimate partner
family member (32%), than by a stranger (20%). Next time we have the
opportunity to advise the public or coworkers, ensure it is from a
of knowledge and not mythology.

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+1 (727) 942-9255 

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