[FoRK] Re-Enacting the Battle of Mogadishu on American Soil..
Ian Andrew Bell FoRK
Thu Sep 1 09:03:52 PDT 2005
How long before there's a "Black Hawk Down" over New Orleans?
Probably a while, but only because there are no RPGs in the area.
Further illustration of just how fragile is the balance between order
and chaos as America's poor fight to survive. When the military
can't even land a helo in a rescue operation in their own country,
you've got a problem.
This sort of chaos emerges from several places, but in the past riot/
looting sprees have primarily been brought about by a perceived
ambivalence of those in power, and a sense of injustice. America is
a nation that has mythologized the vigilante, and vigilantism can
take place in the backyards and bedrooms of every citizen who feels
repressed, beaten-down, or enslaved -- it's a tinder box looking for
In Los Angeles that match was the LAPD pullout in the face of
protestors after the Rodney King Verdict. In 1965 in Watts an almost
identical pullout in the face of protestors after a simple traffic
stop triggered a massive 6-day stretch of civil disobedience. In
both cases, burning and looting and beating was not random. Houses
were left alone, and instead businesses perceived to have been
exploiting the community were assaulted.
Bush was on vacation (as usual), FEMA and others reacted very late
and slowly, warnings were not concise and did not appropriately
characterize the threat. New Orleans is one of America's poorest and
most socioeconomically divided cities -- the poor folk there are
mostly black, and they are VERY poor. All that was needed here (and
all that's needed in any US City) was an event which created a power
vacuum into which that city's remaining vigilantes could project
While clearly some of the looting is for simple survival, the
targeting of other institutions like hospitals, government and big
box retailers has a strong message.
Superdome evacuation suspended because of fires and gunshots
More National Guardsmen are sent in.
By Adam Nossiter
6:51 a.m. September 1, 2005
NEW ORLEANS ? The evacuation of the Superdome was suspended Thursday
because of fires and gunshots outside the arena, authorities said, as
National Guardsmen in armored vehicles poured into New Orleans to
help restore order across the increasingly lawless and desperate city.
An additional 10,000 National Guard troops from across the country
were ordered into the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast to shore up
security, rescue and relief operations in Katrina's wake. That
brought the number of troops dedicated to the effort to more than
28,000, in what may be the biggest military response to a natural
disaster in U.S. history.
"The truth is, a terrible tragedy like this brings out the best in
most people, brings out the worst in some people," said Mississippi
Gov. Haley Barbour on NBC's "Today" show. "We're trying to deal with
looters as ruthlessly as we can get our hands on them."
The first of 500 busloads of people who were evacuated from the hot
and stinking Louisiana Superdome arrived early Thursday at their new
temporary home ? another sports arena, the Houston Astrodome, 350
But the evacuation of the 25,000 or so storm refugees was abruptly
suspended by the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and
injured from the Superdome and by the military, which was overseeing
the removal of the able-bodied.
Richard Zeuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said shots were fired
at a military helicopter, making it clear that it had become too
dangerous for his air-ambulance pilots. And National Guard Lt. Col.
Pete Schneider said the military suspended the ground evacuation
because fires set outside the arena were preventing buses from
getting close enough to pick people up.
President Bush urged a crackdown on the looting and other lawlessness
that have spread through New Orleans.
"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law
during an emergency such as this ? whether it be looting, or price
gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable
giving or insurance fraud," Bush said. "And I've made that clear to
our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."
On Wednesday, Mayor Ray Nagin offered the most startling estimate yet
of the magnitude of the disaster: Asked how many people died in New
Orleans, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands." The
death toll has already reached at least 110 in Mississippi.
If the estimate proves correct, it would make Katrina the worst
natural disaster in the United States since at least the 1906 San
Francisco earthquake and fire, which was blamed for anywhere from
about 500 to 6,000 deaths. Katrina would also be the nation's
deadliest hurricane since 1900, when a storm in Galveston, Texas,
killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people.
Nagin called for a total evacuation of New Orleans, saying the city
had become uninhabitable for the 50,000 to 100,000 who remained
behind after the city of nearly a half-million people was ordered
evacuated over the weekend, before Katrina blasted the Gulf Coast
with 145-mph winds.
The mayor said that it will be two or three months before the city is
functioning again and that people would not be allowed back into
their homes for at least a month or two.
With New Orleans sinking deeper into desperation, Nagin also ordered
virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue
efforts Wednesday and stop the increasingly brazen thieves.
"They are starting to get closer to heavily populated areas ? hotels,
hospitals, and we're going to stop it right now," Nagin said.
In a sign of growing lawlessness, Tenet HealthCare Corp. asked
authorities late Wednesday to help evacuate a fully functioning
hospital in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water and
medical supplies was held up at gunpoint.
"There are physical threats to safety from roving bands of armed
individuals with weapons who are threatening the safety of the
hospital," said spokesman Steven Campanini. He estimated there were
350 employees in the hospital and between 125 to 150 patients.
Tempers flared elsewhere across the devastated region. Police said a
man in Hattiesburg, Miss., fatally shot his sister in the head over a
bag of ice. Dozens of carjackings were reported, including a nursing
home bus. One officer was shot in the head and a looter was wounded
in a shootout. Both were expected to survive.
Looters used garbage cans and inflatable mattresses to float away
with food, clothes, TV sets ? even guns. Outside one pharmacy,
thieves commandeered a forklift and used it to push up the storm
shutters and break through the glass. The driver of a nursing-home
bus surrendered the vehicle to thugs after being threatened.
Hundreds of people wandered up and down shattered Interstate 10 ? the
only major freeway leading into New Orleans from the east ? pushing
shopping carts, laundry racks, anything they could find to carry
On some of the few roads that were still open, people waved at
passing cars with empty water jugs, begging for relief. Hundreds of
people appeared to have spent the night on a crippled highway.
The floodwaters streamed into the city's streets from two levee
breaks near Lake Pontchartrain a day after New Orleans thought it had
escaped catastrophic damage from Katrina. The floodwaters covered 80
percent of the city, in some areas 20 feet deep, in a reddish-brown
soup of sewage, gasoline and garbage.
The Army Corps of Engineers said it planned to use heavy-duty Chinook
helicopters to drop 15,000-pound bags of sand and stone into a 500-
foot gap in the failed floodwall.
But the agency said it was having trouble getting the sandbags and
dozens of 15-foot highway barriers to the site because the city's
waterways were blocked by loose barges, boats and large debris.
The full magnitude of the disaster had been unclear for days ? in
part, because some areas in both coastal Mississippi and Louisiana
are still unreachable, but also because authorities' first priority
has been reaching the living.
In Mississippi, for example, ambulances roamed through the passable
streets of devastated places such as Biloxi, Gulfport, Waveland and
Bay St. Louis, in some cases speeding past corpses in hopes of saving
people trapped in flooded and crumbled buildings.
Associated Press reporters Holbrook Mohr, Mary Foster, Allen G.
Breed, Cain Burdeau, Jay Reeves and Brett Martel contributed to this
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