5 NOPD officers guilty in post-Katrina Danziger Bridge shootings, cover-up

[It took six years of mass struggle, keeping the spotlight of the world on New Orleans and Katrina, and the determined and unstoppable push of the victims families, to force this verdict out of a system that was blocking justice at every turn.  — Frontlines ed.]

Friday, August 05, 2011
By Times-Picayune Staff  — A jury this morning convicted all five New Orleans police officers accused in the Danziger Bridge shootings, which took place amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina and claimed the lives of two civilians, and a cover-up of startling scope that lasted almost five years.

Lance Madison, left, whose brother, Ronald, was shot and killed on the Danziger bridge by New Orleans Police September 5, 2005, and who was jailed for allegedly shooting at police, gets a hug from prosecutor Cindy Chung next to lead prosecutor Barbara "Bobbi" Bernstein, right, Madison thanked the jury and the federal authorities who brought the case, while noting he will never get his brother back in front of Hale Boggs Federal Court Friday, August 5, 2011 in New Orleans, La. MATTHEW HINTON / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE

The verdicts were a huge victory for federal prosecutors, who won on virtually every point, save for their contention that the shootings amounted to murder. The jury rejected that notion, finding that the officers violated the victims’ civil rights, but that their actions did not constitute murder.

Sentencing for the five officers, all of them likely facing lengthy prison terms, has been set for Dec. 14 before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt.

Four of the five officers — Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso — have been in custody since their arraignment.

The fifth, retired Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was not involved in the shootings but headed the police investigation into them, remains free on bail.

Story by Laura Maggi and Brendan McCarthy, Staff writers

In remarks on the courthouse steps shortly after the verdicts were rendered, lead prosecutor Barbara “Bobbi” Bernstein said she was “in awe” of the relatives of the bridge shooting victims. Without their persistence, she said, the truth about the incident would never come to light. Continue reading

On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, displacement of New Orleans’ Black community continues

San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, September 6, 2010

by Jordan Flaherty


Sunni Patterson, whose poems and songs voice the soul of New Orleans, was pushed out the city she loves by the racially discriminatory Road Home program that has prevented her from rebuilding the home her family lived in for generations and, as a tenant, by the cost of housing that has risen 63 percent just this year. Now in Houston, she longs to return home, echoing the longing of 75 percent of Black New Orleanians who remain displaced five years after the flood.

Poet Sunni Patterson is one of New Orleans’ most beloved artists. She has performed in nearly every venue in the city, toured the U.S., and frequently appears on television and radio, from Democracy Now to Def Poetry Jam. When she performs her poems in local venues, half the crowd recites the words along with her.

But, like many who grew up here, she was forced to move away from the city she loves. She left as part of a wave of displacement that began with Katrina and still continues to this day. While hers is just one story, it is emblematic of the situation of many African American New Orleanians who no longer feel welcome in the city they were born in. Continue reading

New Orleans: Survivors Village Resistance on 5th Commemoration of Hurricane Katrina


This is the Black Agenda Morning Shot for Monday, August 30, 2010 being brought to you by Kali Akuno from New Orleans, Louisiana. As Black August 2010 draws to a close, Black people in New Orleans, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and throughout the country commemorated the Ma’afa or great calamity of Hurricane Katrina that struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29th, 2005.

The day was one of remembrance for those who needlessly lost their lives due to government incompetence and strategic neglect and those who were and remain displaced. It was also a day of continued resistance to the ethnic and class cleansing taking place in New Orleans and other Black and oppressed communities throughout the Gulf Coast.

Perhaps the most strategic act of resistance occurred in the St. Bernard Community of New Orleans where Survivors Village protested President Barack Obama’s visit of the Columbia Parc development, which rests on the site of the demolished St. Bernard Development. Continue reading

5 Years After Katrina: Confirmation of widespread racial attacks on Blacks in New Orleans

Malik Rahim, New Orleans resident, reported many bodies of shooting victims in the streets. His reports were ignored

New York Times, August 26, 2010

Rumor to Fact in Tales of Post-Katrina Violence

NEW ORLEANS — In the days after Hurricane Katrina left much of New Orleans in flooded ruins, the city was awash in tales of violence and bloodshed.

The narrative of those early, chaotic days — built largely on rumors and half-baked anecdotes — quickly hardened into a kind of ugly consensus: poor blacks and looters were murdering innocents and terrorizing whoever crossed their path in the dark, unprotected city.

“As you look back on it, at the time it was being reported, it looked like the city was under siege,” said Russel L. Honoré, the retired Army lieutenant general who led military relief efforts after the storm.

Today, a clearer picture is emerging, and it is an equally ugly one, including white vigilante violence, police killings, official cover-ups and a suffering population far more brutalized than many were willing to believe. Several police officers and a white civilian accused of racially motivated violence have recently been indicted in various cases, and more incidents are coming to light as the Justice Department has started several investigations into civil rights violations after the storm. Continue reading

New Orleans: Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans' 9th Ward, six months ago

Katrina Pain Index 2010 New Orleans – Five Years Later

By Bill Quigley, Davida Finger & Lance Hill

06 August, 2010,  Countercurrents.org

It will be five years since Katrina on August 29. The impact of Katrina is quite painful for regular people in the area. This article looks at what has happened since Katrina not from the perspective of the higher ups looking down from their offices but from the street level view of the people – a view which looks at the impact on the elderly, the renter, people of color, the disabled, the working and non-working poor. So, while one commentator may happily say that the median income in New Orleans has risen since Katrina, a street level perspective recognizes that is because large numbers of the poorest people have not been able to return.

Five years after Katrina, tens of thousands of homes in New Orleans remain vacant or blighted. Tens of thousands of African American children who were in the public schools have not made it back, nor have their parents. New Orleans has lost at least 100,000 people. Thousands of elderly and disabled people have not made it back. Affordable housing is not readily available so tens of thousands pay rents that are out of proportion to their wages. Race and gender remain excellent indicators of who is underpaid, who is a renter, who is in public school and who is low income.

In short, the challenges facing New Orleans after Katrina are the same ones facing millions of people of color, women, the elderly and disabled and their children across the US. Katrina just made these challenges clearer in New Orleans than in many other places. Here is where we are five years later. Continue reading