By now, everyone in America knows that the Bush administration stood by and let hundreds of black Americans drown in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But not all of Katrina’s black victims drowned. Some of them were murdered.
A.C. Thompson has a long and chilling story in The Nation about racist vigilantes in New Orleans’ mostly white, upscale Algiers Point neighborhood. With no police presence due to NOPD’s command-and-control breakdown, a neighborhood militia used the pretense of looter prevention to declare open season on any black people they saw, wounding and killing indiscriminately, then bragging about it afterward:
Surrounded by a crowd of sunburned white Algiers Point locals at a barbecue…, [Wayne Janak] smiles and tells the camera, "It was great! It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it." A native of Chicago, Janak also boasts of becoming a true Southerner, saying, "I am no longer a Yankee. I earned my wings." A white woman standing next to him adds, "He understands the N-word now."
….Addressing the crowd, one local praises the vigilantes for holding the neighborhood together until the Army Humvees trundled into town…. "You all know who you are," the man says. "And I’m proud of every one of you all." Cheering and applause erupts from the assembled locals.
Some of the gunmen prowling Algiers Point were out to wage a race war, says one woman…. "My uncle was very excited that it was a free-for-all–white against black–that he could participate in," says the woman. "For him, the opportunity to hunt black people was a joy."
….One of her cousins, a young man in his 20s, sent [her]… a photo in which he posed next to an African-American man who’d been fatally shot. The tone of the e-mail, she says, was "gleeful"–her cousin was happy that "they were shooting niggers."
Almost as disturbing as the fact that these men "gleefully" leaped at the opportunity to kill black people, and that their neighbors considered them heroes for it, is the fact that neither the state of Louisiana nor the Bush DOJ have shown the slightest interest in prosecuting this racist homicidal lawlessness. In fact, one of the vigilantes claims that the police told him, "If they’re breaking in your property do what you gotta do and leave them on the side of the road."
In a separate story, Thompson writes about Henry Glover, a black man who was shot in the chest for no apparent reason near Algiers Point. When his brother, a friend, and a good samaritan went to the police for help, five officers pulled guns on them, handcuffed them, then beat and verbally abused them for 20 minutes while Glover bled in the back seat of the samaritan’s car.
The police eventually released everyone except Glover, impounding the samaritan’s car with Glover still in it. The car was then torched, probably by the police… again, with Glover still in it. The police "investigation" was a cursory whitewash.
So, to sum up: In America, in the 21st century, white people were openly hunting black people, and bragging about it. And the police and the government are uninterested at best, and complicit at worst. Man, do we still have a long way to go.