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Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Orleans SWAT TeamHold Angry Residents Back in New Orleans

SWAT Team, Tasers, clubs and Pepper Spray used on Residents angry about loss of public Housing, as Council members laugh and sip water

Here is a great article about what is going on in New Orleans. It Talks about how the now majority white New Orleans city council OKs demolition of public housing while Council members - some sipping water, others leafing through file folders - looked on impassively as a man was tasered, handcuffed and dragged from the city Council Chambers.

After protesters skirmished with police inside and outside the New Orleans City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a federal plan to demolish a vast swath of public housing.

Source: Charleston Daily Mail New Orleans police attempt to restrain a man outside city hall prior to a council vote approving a plan to demolish a large number of public housing units. ..

The fate of the 4,500 units has become a symbolic flashpoint as this city struggles to piece itself back together after Hurricane Katrina damaged more than 134,000 homes, many of them in poor, mostly black neighborhoods. Tents line the Interstate 10 underpass here, and a homeless camp has settled outside City Hall.

Even before the seven council members took their seats for the public meeting, protesters were booing and pumping their fists.

"Why y'all standing behind the curtains?" called out a female protester to council members who waited at the back of the city chambers for protesters to calm down. "This ain't no stage show! Get out from behind those curtains and tell us why you want to demolish our homes."

The hearing was, in many ways, political theater. Protesters, who complained that many residents had been locked out of the packed public meeting, fought with the police almost immediately.

Council members - some sipping water, others leafing through file folders - looked on impassively as a man was tasered, handcuffed and dragged from the chambers.

Outside, as dozens of protesters attempted to force their way through iron gates to get into the chambers, they clashed with police, who used pepper spray and stun guns on them. One woman was taken away on a stretcher after being sprayed.

Inside, once convened, the meeting was conducted in an orderly fashion - with a SWAT team standing between the council and residents, lawyers, developers, preachers, rappers and sociologists who had come to voice their opinions on the city's public housing.

The six-hour proceeding was briefly disrupted when what appeared to be rain water began dripping from the ceiling.

"We're having problems with water coming in," said Arnie Fielkow, president of the council.

"Tear the building down," shouted one activist, unsympathetic about the leak in the chambers. "Yeah, get HUD to fix it," another chipped in.

Rags were carried in to sop up the growing puddle of water that converged around Clerk Peggy Lewis.

The razing of public housing projects, part of a nationwide move away from public housing and toward mixed-income projects, has been particularly contentious in New Orleans. Activists and historic preservationists have criticized the government's proposal to raze the city's biggest complexes at a time when low-income housing is in short supply. More HERE

So what do you think about what is going on in New Orleans? Should the City Council and Mayor be deciding the fate of low income people in New Orleans? Or should low-icome people of New Orleans be deciding their own fate? oops... I forgot, that is not how it works in American Democracy, the poor have no voice.

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