Jackson Criticizes Hurricane Response

Anna Johnson, AP, Sept. 3

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday blasted the Bush administration, news media and the American Red Cross for hampering rescue and relief efforts in the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Jackson said the federal government failed to put together a coordinated effort to address the crisis in the flood-and-hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and should be held accountable.

“There was no national emergency evacuation plan for Americans in the line of danger,” Jackson said at his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters on Chicago’s South Side.

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Jackson made his comments in Chicago a day after he took part in a project using a caravan of buses to pick up people stranded in New Orleans and transport them out. During a news conference in Baton Rouge, La., Friday Jackson said racism was partly to blame for the slow and inadequate response.

Jackson said Saturday the news media were partly to blame because journalists have focused on violence in New Orleans. He particularly criticized two wire service photos and their captions: one photo of a black man described as having “looted” items from a store and another photo of white or light-skinned people described as “finding” the items they carry through deep water.

The photos were from two different news agencies, The Associated Press and AFP/Getty Images.

AFP has withdrawn its photo. The Associated Press has said that when a photographer sees people entering businesses and coming out with goods, the word “looting” is appropriate.

But Jackson said the images have hindered efforts to help people.

“The images of blacks as refugees, images of blacks as thugs . . . have complicated the relief effort,” he said.

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Evacuees’ Big Goals, Bigger Questions

Eric Berger and Michael D. Clark, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 6

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson toured the Reliant Astrodome, as did former presidents Bush and Clinton. Former first ladies Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a Democratic senator from New York, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., helped to complete the political show.

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Jesse Jackson, accompanied by U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, both Houston Democrats, questioned suggestions of temporarily resettling people in far-flung parts of the country during his visit to Houston.

“It’s a long way from where they have lived, where they were acculturated,” Jackson said.

And he touched upon one of the more sensitive issues of the past week, the use of the word “refugee” to describe people forced from home by nature’s devastation. Although the Webster’s definition is “a person who flees from home or country to seek refuge elsewhere,” many of the displaced bristle at the word.

Jackson suggested that it implies the evacuees are subhuman or criminals.

“It is racist to call American citizens ‘refugees,’ ” he said.

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