New Orleans – People are Dying Demand Relief, Action and Justice Now!

Statement by Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Posted September 1, 2005 at

We express great sadness and extend our solidarity to all who have lost loved ones and their homes in the great disaster that has struck the South and New Orleans in particular. Bodies are floating in the water. Rooftops and bridges are crowded with those who have received no assistance whatsoever. No water. No food. Nothing.

While the rich were able to flee in their custom SUVs and get on planes to faraway second homes, the low income, working class and especially Black people suffered the brunt of the hurricane’s devastation.

Hurricane Katrina demonstrates the power of nature and the weakness of U.S. society. Not all of the disaster is natural; much of it is manmade and preventable. In fact, it is an unnatural disaster. Why do we say this? For poor African Americans there was no evacuation plan. None, period. Those who could not evacuate could only turn to each other and hold on for dear life. Not the city, nor the parish, nor the state had a plan for evacuation. Consider this fact: The authorities knew that in the event of a serious hurricane, a disaster of this magnitude was possible. Congress refused to spend money to protect the low-lying and poorest parts of the city. This is not ‘a mistake.’ It’s a crime.

Bush was warm and dry in Texas – on vacation. At his press conference following the hurricane, he had a stupid smirk on his face and preached “patience.”

Though the powerful storm was tracked and announced on every news station – every hour on the hour for days – and the region had experienced being smashed by big hurricanes in the past, government and politicians let this catastrophe happen and are now allowing the situation to get worse. The reason: Low-income Black people do not matter to them. Not to Bush, not to the Republican party, not to rich white people. Black people’s lives are not worth a thing to them. Poor people are expendable and their homes and livelihoods are unimportant to those who rule the land. Remember, this is the South and Black people are an oppressed nation in this part of the U.S. Black people’s oppression is not just history, it is now. The outrage is building across the country.

The authorities don’t care about those who need help – but let thirsty, starving, half-drowned people take from the shelves of stores sinking under water, and the police, the National Guard, the army and marines are called in to ‘keep order.’ Search and rescue operations were curtailed.

Bush and the handful of rich billionaires and multi-millionaires who rule the U.S. empire will send an army halfway around the world to occupy a country for its oil, but won’t mobilize the resources needed by the people of New Orleans and surrounding coastlines. Heaven and earth should be moved to stop this deepening disaster. Instead the politicians and the rich watch and wait. Allowing low-income African American people and others to suffer and die.

The current government-sponsored ‘rescue and relief’ operations are worse than inadequate. And those responsible need to be held accountable. We demand that the government do whatever it takes to provide meaningful aid to the victims of this crisis. Now. The priority must be placed on those who have the greatest needs. We must turn our collective grief into a storm of anger. Help is needed. And so is justice.