trigger-happy guards in New Orleans


Richard Moore

From: "Westaway" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Rapes, Killings Hit Katrina Refugees in New Orleans
Date: Sun, 4 Sep 2005 10:42:55 -0700

Rapes, Killings Hit
Katrina Refugees
In New Orleans
By Mark Egan

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) -- People left homeless by Hurricane
Katrina told horrific stories of rape, murder and
trigger-happy guards in two New Orleans centers that were set
up as shelters but became places of violence and terror.

Police and National Guard troops on Saturday closed down the
two centers -- the Superdome arena and the city's convention
center -- but then penned in the storm victims outside in
sweltering heat to keep them from trying to walk out of the

Military helicopters and buses staged a massive evacuation to
take away thousands of people who waited in orderly lines in
stifling heat outside the flooded convention center.

The refugees, who were waiting to be taken to sports stadiums
and other huge shelters across Texas and northern Louisiana,
described how the convention center and the Superdome became
lawless hellholes beset by rape and murder.

Several residents of the impromptu shantytown recounted two
horrific incidents where those charged with keeping people
safe had killed them instead.

In one, a young man was run down and then shot by a New
Orleans police officer, in another a man seeking help was
gunned down by a National Guard soldier, witnesses said.

Police here refused to discuss or confirm either incident.
National Guard spokesman Lt. Col Pete Schneider said "I have
not heard any information of a weapon being discharged."

"They killed a man here last night," Steve Banka, 28, told
Reuters. "A young lady was being raped and stabbed. And the
sounds of her screaming got to this man and so he ran out into
the street to get help from troops, to try to flag down a
passing truck of them, and he jumped up on the truck's
windscreen and they shot him dead."

Wade Batiste, 48, recounted another tale of horror.

"Last night at 8 p.m. they shot a kid of just 16. He was just
crossing the street. They ran him over, the New Orleans police
did, and then they got out of the car and shot him in the
head," Batiste said.

The young man's body lay in the street by the Convention
Center's entrance on Saturday morning, covered in a black
blanket, a stream of congealed blood staining the street
around him. Nearby his family sat in shock.

A member of that family, Africa Brumfield, 32, confirmed the
incident but declined to be quoted about it, saying her family
did not wish to discuss it. But she spoke of general
conditions here.

"There is rapes going on here. Women cannot go to the bathroom
without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats.
They keep telling us the buses are coming but they never
leave," she said through tears.

People here said there were now 22 bodies of adults and
children stored inside the building, but troops guarding the
building refused to confirm that and threatened to beat
reporters seeking access to the makeshift morgue.

People trying to walk out are forced back at gunpoint -
something troops said was for their own safety. "It's sad, but
how far do you think they would get," one soldier said.

"They have us living here like animals," said Wvonnette
Grace-Jordan, here with five children, the youngest only six
weeks old. "We have only had two meals, we have no medicine
and now there are thousands of people defecating in the
streets. This is wrong. This is the United States of America."

One National Guard soldier who asked not to be named for fear
of punishment from his commanding officer said of the lack of
medical attention at the center, "They (the Bush
administration) care more about Iraq and Afghanistan than

The Louisiana National Guard soldier said, "We are doing the
best we can with the resources we have, but almost all of our
guys are in Iraq."

Across town at the Superdome, where as many as 38,000 refugees
camped out until Wednesday night when evacuation buses first
came, the 4,000 still there were corralled outside, hoping to
get on four waiting buses with seats for only 200.

The scene at the sports stadium was one of abject filth.
Crammed into a small area after the building was shut to them
last night, those remaining sat amid heaps of garbage, piled
in places waist high. The stench of human waste pervaded the
interior of the now vacant stadium.

One police officer told Reuters there were 100 people in a
makeshift morgue at the Superdome, mostly people who died of
heat exhaustion, and that six babies had been born there since
last Saturday, when people arrived to take shelter.

At the arena, too, there was much talk of bedlam after dark.

"We found a young girl raped and killed in the bathroom," one
National Guard soldier told Reuters. "Then the crowd got the
man and they beat him to death."


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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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