New Orleans: The Struggle for Recognition of the Historic 1811 slave revolt

Art by renown River Parishes artist Lorraine Gendron, depicts the revolt that hangs in the exhibit for the 200 year anniversary of the 1811 Slave Revolt in St. John and St. Charles Parishes that reverberated around the country.

The Louisiana Weekly

By: Edmund W. Lewis, Editor

Monday, January 10, 2011

A number of groups began commemorating the 200th anniversary of the 1811 slave revolt last week with programs designed to honor the estimated 500 enslaved Africans and free people of color who took a stand against oppression by forming a small military unit and attempting to convert New Orleans into a free republic for Black people.

Led by Charles Deslondes, a free man of color who was born in Haiti and knew well the story of the Haitian revolution, and men like Kook and Quamana, these revolutionaries put on military uniforms and rode horses as they picked up additional rebels and weapons as they headed east to New Orleans.

Ultimately, the revolt was turned back by a coalition of federal troops and a local militia that possessed superior weaponry and happened to stumble upon the rebels at an inopportune moment during their march to New Orleans. Had the revolutionary Africans reached New Orleans and had a chance to gather additional firepower and soldiers, historians might be telling an entirely different story about this uprising.

Many of the rebel slaves were tried by a panel of the very slaveholders they sought to overthrow and their bodies were mutilated and strewn throughout the River Parishes and Jackson Square in New Orleans along with their severed heads, which were placed on poles as warnings to other enslaved Africans about the cost of rebelling against slavery.

As it stands, those who are familiar with the story know that Charles Deslondes and the others who planned and carried out this revolt were every bit as brave and heroic as Toussaint L’Ouverture, Cinque, Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner. Continue reading

New Orleans: In split verdict, 3 cops convicted of shooting and burning Henry Glover

In Wake of Glover Verdicts, What’s Next for New Orleans’ Troubled Police Force?

Edna Glover, center, mother of Henry Glover, who three current and former police officers were convicted of shooting and burning his body in a car in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, talks to reporters with family and supporters outside the courthouse after a jury reached a split verdict against the men in New Orleans, Dec. 9, 2010.

ProPublica, December 10, 2010

by A.C. Thompson

One of the most striking moments in the federal civil rights prosecutions arising from the death of Henry Glover came when Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, a police officer lauded in New Orleans for his heroic work after Hurricane Katrina, took the stand.

Scheuermann told jurors  he watched his colleague, officer Greg McRae, set fire to a car containing the corpse of the 31-year old man, igniting a blaze that reduced the body to little more than bone fragments, ashes, and scorched meat.

McRae burned Glover’s body so thoroughly that a forensic pathologist had to saw off a piece of bone and send it out for DNA testing so the remains could be identified. For about nine months, Glover was known only as coroner’s case number 06-00189 while his family members searched to find out what had happened to him.

The jury found McRae’s behavior a crime, and reasonable people might view it as the sort of horrific conduct practiced by the security agents of authoritarian regimes. Yet as Scheuermann told the story, there was no indication he did anything to alert his superiors or co-workers or anybody else to the incineration of a human being — one who it turns out had just been shot by another police officer.

Last night a federal jury in New Orleans rendered a verdict  in the Glover case,  convicting two police officers (for burning the man’s corpse, violating civil rights, obstructing justice, and misleading federal investigators) and a former cop (for shooting Glover with a .223 caliber assault rifle).

New Orleans police Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, center, refuses to answer questions as he leaves federal court after he was acquitted of all charges in the Henry Glover case on Dec. 9, 2010. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

Scheuermann, a 23-year veteran of the force, won’t be going to prison: The jury cleared him of any wrongdoing (he’d been charged with participating in the arson, as well as civil rights violations and obstruction of justice). The jury also acquitted former Lt. Robert Italiano (he was accused of creating a bogus police report and lying to the FBI).The question now facing Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Chief Ronal Serpas is: What verdict do they want to render?

Trials are a blunt instrument for reforming police departments — they typically target a small number of cops who may have committed a handful of acts whose criminality can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Juries are reluctant to convict cops, even without the extenuating circumstances created by the collapse in public order that was post-Katrina New Orleans. Continue reading

Cultural Extinction? Will Louisiana’s coastal communities recover from BP’s drilling disaster?

The toll on wildlife and Louisiana's coastal communities is devastating

By Jordan Flaherty

As BP’s deepwater well continues to discharge oil into the Gulf, the economic and public health effects are already being felt across coastal communities. But it’s likely this is only the beginning. From the bayous of southern Louisiana to the city of New Orleans, many fear this disaster represents not only environmental devastation but also cultural extinction for peoples who have made their lives here for generations.

This is not the first time that Louisianans have lost their communities or their lives from the actions of corporations. The land loss caused by oil companies has already displaced many who lived by the coast, and the pollution from treatment plants has poisoned communities across the state – especially in “cancer alley,” the corridor of industrial facilities along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge. Continue reading

7 Greenpeace Activists Charged With Felonies in Anti-Drilling Protest

Port Fourchon, Louisiana, Greenpeace activists at the ship "Harvey Explorer" send a message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: " Salazar Ban Arctic Drilling" as part of the protest. The activists used oil from the spill to paint the message "Arctic Next?" on the bridge of the ship, which is scheduled to depart for Alaska for drilling operations in July.

by Brian Merchant, Brooklyn, New York

Yesterday, Greenpeace activists staged a protest to highlight the fact that even now, as federal authorities are helpless to stop millions of gallons oil from gushing out of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore drilling is scheduled to continue in Alaskan waters. Seven Greenpeace members boarded the very ship that’s heading north in July to oversee drilling operations, and wrote ‘Arctic Next’ on the hull in oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon. They’ve all been charged with felonies.

All seven have been slapped with the felony charges of Unauthorized Entry of a Critical Infrastructure and Unauthorized Entry of an Inhabited Dwelling. The protest was staged to coincide with the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s visit to Louisiana’s oil-impacted region to assess the damage. Continue reading