Hurricane Katrina's Displaced Persons: Purging the Poor

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"This is turning into the ethnic cleansing of New Orleans," Naomi Klein commented September 24, 2005. "There is empty housing for the tens of thousands made homeless by Katrina - but the white elite have other plans."

New Wave of Homelessness
"Two months after Hurricane Katrina displaced more than 1 million people, problems with federal housing aid threaten to spawn a new wave of homelessness," Richard Wolf reported in USA Today October 31, 2005. "Advocates for the poor say the situation will worsen this winter."

For example, Wolf wrote:

  • "In Texas, thousands of evacuees who found shelter in apartments face eviction threats because rents are going unpaid. ... Representatives of apartment owners who met with federal officials in Dallas on Thursday say about 15,000 Katrina evacuees in Texas alone face eviction in November for unpaid rent or for other reasons."
  • "In Louisiana, some evacuees are beginning to show up in homeless shelters because they haven't received federal aid or don't know how to get it. ... [And] directors of homeless shelters in Baton Rouge say they have taken in some evacuees from New Orleans who have nowhere else to go."

A not-so-"minority community"

Although they have been reported as "the minority community" in New Orleans, African-Americans represent "67 percent of the population, they are in fact the clear majority, while whites ... make up just 27 percent," Naomi Klein wrote in the September 22, 2005, online issue of The Nation.

In an interview with "New Orleans' top corporate lobbyist, Mark Drennen, ... president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc.," Naomi Klein was struck by Drennen's enthusiasm "about the opportunities opened up by" Hurricane Katrina. [1]

Klein gave Drennen the benefit of the doubt that his words were "a simple verbal slip, but [she] couldn't help feeling that it was also a glimpse into the desired demographics of the new-and-improved city being imagined by its white elite, one that won't have much room for" those who want to or "know how to fix houses. 'I honestly don't know and I don't think anyone knows how they are going to fit in,' Drennen said of the city's unemployed."

"We will do what it takes. We will not leave until the job is done." --President George W. Bush, speaking from New Orleans, September 15, 2005.

"This president has had zero interest in attacking poverty, and the result has been an increase in poverty in the U.S., the richest country in the world, in each of the last four years. Instead of attacking poverty, the Bush administration has attacked the safety net and has stubbornly refused to stop the decline in the value of the minimum wage on his watch," Bob Herbert wrote September 19, 2005.

"You can believe that he's suddenly worried about poor people if you want to," Herbert says. "What is more likely is that his reference to racism and poverty was just another opportunistic Karl Rove moment, never to be acted upon."

Private Police State in New Orleans

"As business leaders and government officials talk openly of changing the demographics of what was one of the most culturally vibrant of America's cities, mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon[2], American Security Group[3], Blackhawk, Wackenhut are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions. Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract." [[4]

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