CNN.com reports that as the heart of a hurricane-ravaged New Orleans filled with sewage-tainted floodwaters and corpses, Mayor Ray Nagin urged people to cross a bridge leading to the dry lands of the city’s suburban west bank.
And there begins the story of what might become the worst American civil rights episode ushering in the 21st Century.
The lead actors in this two-bit replay of the Bloody Sunday attempted crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge 40 years ago by blacks demanding the right to vote, are a police chief and a sheriff who are now as famous as Bull Connor. But sadly, share some of his attributes, too.
City of Gretna police chief Arthur Lawson is equally impressive. His justification for trapping Katrina survivors in New Orleans is, he is reported to have said, “If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged.”
Eyewitnesses report that before they were close enough to speak, officers began firing their weapons over the heads of the New Orleans survivors. Other officers are reported to have said that they wanted “no Superdomes in their city.”
The world got a chance to see what too many of us here in this country already know: that racism is alive and well in America.
Could it be that the police chief and the sheriff are guilty of a hate crime? How can federally funded roads be blocked by local officials at a time of emergency? Where was the Federal Government that should have been ensuring the lives of all Katrina survivors?
Didn’t the New Orleans survivors have the right to life? And civil rights?
And where’s the outrage?
Today I will introduce legislation to strip all federal funds from the Gretna City Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Police, and the Crescent City Connection security force, all reportedly involved in the tragic blocking of the Gretna City bridge.