Watching news coverage of the refugees trying to enter the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans for safety from the approaching force-five Hurricane Katrina, I was incredulous how the people attempting to enter the stadium were being treated by the National Guard troops and local police. The people were made to stand for hours outside in the awful Louisiana climate while they were admitted one or two adults at a time so they could be searched “for firearms and alcohol.”
The frail elderly, many grasping walkers and others in wheelchairs seemed to be near collapse. They, along with hundreds of small children needing water and rest-room relief, were forced to wait as long as four hours to get to safety. It was often repeated during the video reports that the last time the Superdome was used as a hurricane shelter, a few of the temporary occupants removed some furniture. But this time, they had a large security force on hand, so that was NOT going to happen again, no-siree-bob.
During coverage by Geraldo Rivera Sunday night, FOX NEWS’ video cameras zoomed inside the foyer deck of the Superdome and viewers could see a national guard person going through a powder compact from of a woman’s purse that was way too small to hold a liquor bottle or a gun. It was obvious that they were looking for drugs in warrantless searches. They instructed all the refugees far back in the seemingly endless lines to have their prescription-pill bottles out when approaching the security checkpoint and also a photo ID to prove that they belonged with the prescription.
There were THOUSANDS of poor, mostly black citizens of the lower Louisiana area, many of them little children and sickly elderly, being forced to stand for hours while the government violated their civil rights with forced searches that were patently unconstitutional, unjust and unreasonable under the dire circumstances. "Don’t want to be searched? That’s okay…now turn around, go outside and die!" Big choice.
Can you imagine New Orleans’ wealthy elite meekly submitting to such microscopic searches of their persons and property for drugs? Heads would roll. But poor people who had no money to escape the deadly storm’s onslaught had no choice. They had nowhere else to go to save their children’s and parents’ lives. They were humiliated just for trying to survive. Their grandfathers and grandmothers suffered as slaves on Southern plantations decades ago, while today, they suffer as slaves to the state, the state that cancels their human rights and dignity in the name of "protecting" them.
Did you see that, America? Nothing has changed in the South. Poor people of are still being herded and treated as criminals because of the color of their skin. The Sheriff and Louisiana National Guard knows the profile of likely drug users: black people and anyone associating with them; they were searched just as if they were entering a state penitentiary visiting a death-row prisoner. Maybe the refugees would have fared better if they had had season tickets in their hands.
Think about it. They can allow in 30,000 screaming fans with fifty-dollar bills and costly NFL tickets in their hands in a few minutes, but poor black people fleeing for their lives, four hours. Four HOURS!
None of the news people I saw on the major cable and broadcast networks noticed this outrage. Apparently, they are still “embedded” with the government and couldn’t possibly risk dislodging their heads long enough to report the truth right before their eyes.
We let morons take away our rights to person and property at the airports, all for the false "protection" they promised us and can’t possibly deliver, so now we see them doing it to helpless citizens even when the citizens’ lives are in danger. "First, we gotta check you for weapons and drugs…pull your dress up, lift up your arms…." let those old people collapse and those kids soil themselves "This is FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY."
God forbid that anyone have a hip flask to calm their nerves during a traumatic life-and-death experience. Someone else might actually toke up or take a non-prescription pill! And a few might take their right to keep and bear arms seriously, when everyone knows that only government employees deserve self-protection, not their citizen "bosses." The constitution doesn’t apply when the government thinks it can make you safer by judging you, disarming you, and denuding you of your rights.
Who gave the order to make all these exhausted, miserable poor people wait for hours while they were searched so illicitly? Under what actual law did they search these refugees for anything whatsoever on their person? Do they search football game fans this thoroughly and for this long? Suuuuuure they do….
Could all this form a mass tort against the State of Louisiana? Maybe. Some of the Superdome refugees must be hopping mad.
Let’s face it. If you’re poor in America, you’re a "suspect," maybe. If you’re poor and black in America, you’re a "criminal," definitely. Even if your life is in peril, no excuses. Your rights don’t count as long as any badge or weekend warrior in BDU’s says they don’t.
This is the real story of the Louisiana Superdome. Hurricane Katrina can certainly destroy the environs of the Louisiana and her neighboring states, but that can all be rebuilt. What will never be rebuilt is the dignity of the poorest citizens of that region, since the government acted with a greater destructive force than a hurricane. The lamp of freedom has been blown out by force-five bureaucrats, their sycophants and their head-embedded media enablers who will insure that it will never get re-ignited. For our own good, of course.
Heads should roll in Louisiana, for all those whose civil rights were violated on Sunday, August 28, 2005, outside the Louisiana Superdome of Shame.
August 30, 2005
Jack Duggan [send him mail] lives in Fort Apache (Hamilton, New Jersey, site of the anthrax mailings) with his family.