Mayor Nagin played Russian roulette and the poor people in New Orleans lost

By Sinclere Lee

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (BNW)
It was a gamble, like playing Russian roulette, that went deadly wrong for the poor people in New Orleans when Mayor Ray Nagin didn’t call for a forced evacuation of the children, the old, the sick and the poor from the death of Lake Pontchartrain. I use Russian roulette as a metaphor because it’s a deadly game.

It started in Russia when military officers got frustrated with their duties and played the game. For example, an officer would suddenly pull out his revolver, anywhere, at the table, in a cafe, at a gathering of friends, remove a cartridge from the cylinder, spin the cylinder, snap it back in place, put it to his head, and pull the trigger. There were five chances to one that the hammer would set off a live cartridge and blow his brains all over the place. Sometimes it happened, sometimes not.

In fact, Russian roulette isn’t something that’s new to Blacks; rhythm and blues recording star Johnny Ace accidentally killed himself while playing Russian roulette at a holiday dance. Ace was one of the brightest stars in the R&B field. He shot himself while playing Russian roulette backstage at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas on December 24 during a break in a show, and died on the next day, Christmas.

The shooting occurred at a show featuring the popular singer and his band. Ace had gone backstage for a five-minute break and had been fooling around with a revolver with one bullet in the chamber. Paul Simon wrote a song called The Late Great Johnny Ace (on his Hearts and Bones album) that references Johnny Ace's death.

While Ace took his own life, Mayor Nagin maybe responsible of playing Russian roulette with lives of the poor in New Orleans. As a result, his misdeeds or miscalculations were fatal mistakes just like playing Russian roulette, but with somebody else’s life. Sure, there’s enough blame to go around, but I am blaming this Nigger, first!

There are many questions Mayor Nagin will have to answer, and I have two overriding questions from the Black community; why did the whites have a plan to hold-up in the city's high-rise apartments and office buildings with food, water and generators for electricity, and the Blacks were forced into the Superdome without food or water. In other words, why were the Blacks and whites segregated in a time of crisis? Next, why did you give the order to stop the search-and-rescue missions to stop the looting? This decision alone may have cost hundreds of lives. How can you put the contaminated property of greedy whites over the lives of your own people?

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee initiated an oversight review Tuesday of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, became the latest lawmaker to lash out at the government's response to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe Tuesday, asking "why the hell" officials didn't immediately get victims what they needed.

Discussing images of New Orleans' Superdome, in which thousands of victims were stranded for days, Leahy said it "drives me up a wall" that the government said it was unable to get in critical supplies -- such as water, food, and medicine -- at the same time the press was accessing the site.

Large areas of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina have been evacuated, as rescuers search house-to-house for more survivors.

Reporters say most of those who wanted to leave have done so, but some are determined to stay.

The authorities have vowed to restore security in the Louisiana city following a breakdown of law and order.
President George W Bush is due to visit Louisiana and Mississippi - his second trip to the region in three days.

Reports from Washington says the Bush administration is now focused on being more effective on the ground in the hurricane-hit areas and on convincing Americans that the White House is not to blame for what went wrong.

Body recovery teams Monday will press on with the grim task of going house to house to find more victims of the flooding wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where the mayor said thousands had died.

The bodies recovered will be taken to refrigerated trucks at collection sites and then transported to a portable morgue in St. Gabriel, south of Baton Rouge, where officials will try to identify the remains using DNA technology, dental X-rays, fingerprints and photographs.

Officials so far have collected 59 bodies from New Orleans, including 10 from the Louisiana Superdome, where thousands of people sought refuge when levees around the sunken city broke and water flooded the Big Easy on August 29.

Body recovery teams Monday will press on with the grim task of going house to house to find more victims of the flooding wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where the mayor said thousands had died.

Todd Ellis, incident commander of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response effort in the state, said Sunday that three teams of 31 people each are now in the disaster area.

The president's suggestion over the weekend that local officials made mistakes has led one Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu, to threaten to punch him if he says it again.

The visit follows an incident on Sunday in which US police shot eight people, reportedly killing five, after contractors escorted by officers came under fire.

A week after the hurricane struck the Gulf coast, Mr. Bush's father, former President George Bush senior, and former President Bill Clinton, are due to visit Houston, Texas to launch an aid appeal for victims.

Limited return

Rescue teams have been working around the clock to move stranded survivors to safety, but it is not clear how many bodies may be trapped in homes.

"We've seen more people dead than alive," said volunteer Michael Lester, quoted by AFP news agency.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said troops had secured the flood-stricken city and full relief operations were under way.

New Orleans says the city's convention centre is littered with the debris of the thousands of people who have now left.

Chairs, barbeque grills and stained mattresses are among the discarded items lining the street for hundreds of meters.

Electricity has been restored in some areas, and some evacuees have been allowed to return briefly to their homes in the west of the city, to collect belongings.

'Ugly scene'

Helicopters and boats are still looking for survivors.

Only 59 bodies have been recovered so far in New Orleans, but officials says the death toll could run into the thousands.

The authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order.

But there have been numerous reports of survivors determined to stay, to defend their neighborhood from looters.

"We kind of together decided we would defend what we have here and we would stay up and defend the neighborhood," army veteran Charlie Hackett was quoted by AP news agency as saying.

Carl Roberts, 74, told reporters that he could still live in the upstairs part of his house.

"Everything flooded out of the house but I still have a bed on the second floor. I'm staying," he said.

But Mr. Chertoff has warned that staying is not a reasonable alternative.

"We are not going to be able to have people sitting in houses... for weeks and months while we de-water and clean the city," he said.

"The flooded places, when they are de-watered, are not going to be sanitary."

"We are going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine."

More than one million people are said to have left their homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Most of them have gone to Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas.

Back to home page