Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wheechair Son Sues New Orleans

The son of an 91-year-old woman who died slumped in her wheelchair after Hurricane Katrina — an image that came to symbolize the government's slow response to the catastrophic storm — sued the city and state Thursday.

Herbert Freeman Jr. accuses numerous state agencies and the city of New Orleans of gross negligence and willful misconduct in the death of his mother, Ethel Freeman. He claims he was ordered by New Orleans police to seek shelter at the city's convention center, even though no aid was available and there was no way out.

"Let's not forget, she survived the storm. The storm didn't get her. She didn't survive the rescue," said John Paul Massicot, an attorney representing the family.

"They kept saying she was a symbol of the hurricane. No, she's a symbol of neglect," Freeman said.
(much more here - read it)

Being a native Houstonian and living among evacuees who are killing, car jacking, and acting a damn fool, I've somewhat supressed the tragedy of August 2005. I won't say that I've grown calloused - because I haven't - but the heartwrenching impact of Katrina hasn't been as gripping as it was some months ago. (I'm sure it's still very traumatic for those who experienced it.)

I'm a "feeling" person, so it's necessary for me to pull back from a situation that left kids, the elderly, the ill, and black familes...sick hot, stranded, and dying for about a week. So, I've had to focus on the thugs running amock in Houston.

Yet, the thugs aren't the Big Story. Yes, Houston has a higher crime rate and an increased population, but the Big Story is the Government's attempt to wipe out a whole city of Black people. Family oriented Black people. Hard working Black people. Interesting Black people. Singing, dancing, praying, believing, loving, and lively Black people. Pisses me off.

And then, there has been very little progress in restoring New Orleans. I don't expect the government to pay my bills (or anyone else's) but, I do expect them to do their job.

Check out Everything New Orleans

Also, don't forget Spike Lee's HBO Documentary "When the Leeves Broke", airing 8/21 - 9/26.

The two-part epic, which premiered at a special screening in New Orleans on Wednesday, airs on HBO on Monday and Tuesday nights, Lee featured several embarrassing film clips of Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, former chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who was blamed for the failure of New Orleans' levees. He retired last week, citing personal reasons.

The documentary does not feature interviews with Strock or other federal officials involved in the tragedy. It does, however, showcase the struggle to save New Orleans and the city's uniqueness and indomitable spirit.

Why did you make this documentary?

I wanted to make a historical document of an American tragedy, and luckily HBO allowed me to do it. I did every single interview.

What struck you when you were putting it all together? What had the biggest impact?

Even though people were going through hell, a lot of them still had a sense of humor. But 75 percent of the population is not in New Orleans now. They want to come home, but they don't have a place to come home to.

Was it fair not to let the federal government defend itself in the documentary?

Nobody wanted to get on camera with me.

Whom did you ask?

(Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael) Chertoff turned us down. So did Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. (Former FEMA director) Michael Brown was the only one ... but he's just a scapegoat. I didn't want to deal with the peons. I wanted Condoleezza Rice, (President) Bush and Chertoff. But I don't blame them. They're not stupid. (more here)

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