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 Looting: Human Need vs. Greed and Police Response in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Lauren Newton & Meghan Thompson.

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Presentation on theme: " Looting: Human Need vs. Greed and Police Response in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Lauren Newton & Meghan Thompson."— Presentation transcript:

1  Looting: Human Need vs. Greed and Police Response in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Lauren Newton & Meghan Thompson

2 Background information  Katrina hits August 29 th, 2005  August 30, 2005: "The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked," says City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson  According to a Senate press release, 85% of New Orleans successfully evacuated, leaving 15% without electricity, communication, or access to food and water  275,000 homes lost  National Guard and Federal troops went from 7,841 on August 29 th, 2005 when the storm hit to max of 46,838 by September 10, 2005

3 The Good Humanity: people looting for the benefit of public survival “And another man was bar-b-quing, you know, just passing it out to anybody he could, you know, anybody that wanted anything. All that food that was looted, it was being put to really good use. And there just wasn’t enough of it for so many people and so many elderly people. ” -Joseph Cullen, Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Chaplain to NOPD Honest lawbreaking given police blessing “There are some instances of looting where it was honest, innocent people who were forced – they were stuck behind, so they had no means to get out. Or just waited too long – they couldn’t get out; they broke in and stole stuff to stay alive. I’ve got no problem with that. ” -Anthony W. Cannatella, Sr., Born and raised in New Orleans, commander of the 6 th district

4 …The Bare Necessities Police understand looting for the essentials to survive:  “Most were just looking for food and water and shelter. ” -Shannon Reeves, Born in New Orleans, Officer in 2 nd District  “The ones who were not looting -- and I’m not going to say that they were looting for profit -- most of the people that I encountered had food products, hygiene products, a pair of shoes … ” -John P. Bryson, Born in West Virginia Commander of the Fifth District (9th Ward and Lower 9th Ward):  “And I’m the guy that pretty much put the rule down and said, look, you know, if they’re coming out with food, you know, water, you know, things that they need to survive, you know, run them up the street and let them go.” -Jeffery Winn, from New Orleans, raised in Algiers: Commander of Special Operations Tactical Team  “My officers had instructions not to arrest them if they caught them – if they were stealing food, clothes or water, to leave them alone.” -Anthony W. Cannatella, Sr., Born and raised in New Orleans

5 The Bad: Greed Electronics and Extravagancies: In Wal-Mart: “They stole every TV, radio, CD, DVD, computer. They were stealing aquariums. Where are you going to plug in an aquarium in a flood? You know. Television sets. They’re stealing stuff they could not possibly turn on and use.” – that just says, we’re out for whatever we could grab.” -Anthony W. Cannatella, Sr., Commander of the 6 th district People left the Superdome to loot, breaking into drug stores and clearing the shelves of all drugs. -“Looting Difficult to Control”, Times Pic, Aug. 30, 2005 People were taking electric toothbrushes—“Something that everybody needs during a hurricane when there’s no electricity”—Captain Kerry Najolia No Shame: Looters were seen giving each other high fives or driving away from looting sites cheering and honking their horns. -Times Picayune, August 29, 2005.

6 The Worse Alcohol:  Teenagers raided a convenient store, carrying out large trash cans filled with alcohol (Times Picayune, Aug. 29, 2005). Grand Theft Auto:  Stealing used cars from car dealerships, removing the stickers and selling them themselves.  Main problem: stolen cars found all over nation, especially at the Astrodome Drugs:  One man arrested for looting many prescription drugs, like Hydrocodone and Alprazolam Sheer Number:  275 booked with looting in Jefferson Parish alone by Sept. 30, 2005

7 The Ugly Police looting for themselves:  Cop was seen with a 27in TV in his basket, along with a personal computer. - “Even a cop joins in the looting”, Times Pic, Aug. 30, 2005  “The police got all the best stuff, They’re crookeder than us.”- “Looters Update”, Aug. 31, 2005 Shootings:  4th District officers got shot in the head by four looters at a Chevron Station.  “We get a call of a shooting at Coleman’s Wholesale Clothing Store… Apparently, two looters were arguing over a flashlight. Because there’s no electricity. In broad daylight. There was no electricity. You couldn’t see in the place. So, they’re fighting over a flashlight. One pulled a gun and shot the other one in the neck for the flashlight.” –Anthony W. Cannatella

8 Thomas Hobbes  The period of time New Orleans experienced after Hurricane Katrina can easily be considered a Hobbesian state of nature.  War of All Against All  “Individuals value their own survival and well-being much more highly than the survival and well being of others, and act accordingly (Miller 3).”  People were pursuing their own interests  Looting to survive  Looting to take advantage of the situation at hand  Protecting their own individual, at any cost  Manners in which interests were pursued and individualism was protected were considered nasty, brutish, and sometimes even fatal

9 SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORISTS CONT’D.  “There was no electricity. You couldn’t see in the place. So, they’re fighting over a flashlight. One pulled a gun and shot the other one in the neck for the flashlight.” – Anthony Cannatella  “The conditions made this lady do things that she normally wouldn’t do. Now, there’s no doubt in my mind this lady would not go shoplift anything. “ – John P. Bryson Locke: people looting as groups to protect familial units or neighbors Rousseau: people free of morals

10 Police ordered to shoot?  Warren Riley “made announcement to entire group…that on this day he was initiating that we begin shooting looters in the city of New Orleans that he was ordering us to take the street back and start shooting looters that day” – Harry Mendoza  Riley said: “if you can sleep with it, I’m ordering it done”

11 If you saw police looting…  Would you assume looting was suddenly legal for the public, and you would loot as well?  OR would you guess looting was only permissible for police, considering their positions of authority?  Would you be concerned about corruption of your police force and afraid for your safety?

12 Vigilantes  When asked if he had any problem with looters, man nonchalantly states he killed 38 of them  “They chose to die… they chose to commit suicide.”  Donnel Harrigton, shot walking down the street  Felt it gave vigilantes a sense of superiority

13 Societal assumptions about looters  When you hear “looter,” what type of person comes to mind? Think race/socioeconomic background. Answer honestly, not in terms of political correctness.

14 Police Theory   Walker reading: Walker depicts the typical victim as white, and the typical offender as African American.  The white man in the video is simply taking from Wal-Mart so he can survive, take some essentials that he might need. He is the victim.  Black man, even black child, is immediately viewed as the offender. He is seen as stealing and ultimately breaking the law.  White reporter feels smugly proud to have prevented black child from looting. “just can’t help but laugh..” Condescension.

15 Charles Mills  Europeans vs. Non-Europeans in a state of nature  Europeans are considered civilized and Non-Europeans are considered primitive  In the city of New Orleans– Whites vs. Blacks  Whites seen looting were merely “finding” needs in order to survive  Blacks looting were seen as “animals” breaking the law  In Mills POV, whites are not even considered as being in a state of nature because they encompass the ability to quickly get themselves out of the state of nature  Blacks, or the Non-Europeans, do not comprise the capability to escape the state of nature, more or less realize they are in it  Because they cannot escape it, they continue to act similar to savage beasts

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17 Catch em’ and then what?  Plans were made to send looters to Central Lockup but the jail was flooded  Mostly all that was done was getting information and letting them go– “That’s all we could do. Make peace and move on.” – John P. Bryson, Commander of 5 th District  Yes we caught them, but the problem was that there was no holding facility; “You know, you make them put the property back and you run them off the street.” – Jeffery Winn  If information was actually obtainable, it was then passed on to the district detectives and a warrant was sent out for those individuals at a later date.

18 solutions Intimidation:  Anonymous, Born in Iowa, Detective during Hurricane Katrina: “We saw a ton at Wal-Mart and scared them away with our guns. In reality it is hard to define looting though. We stopped the ones stealing electronics and let the people with food keep going on their way.” SWAT Teams:  “The Wal-Mart parking lot, however, was filled with looters. They were…going to torch the place. When we went back to take control of that store and that parking lot for our area, the looters were just everywhere.” –Sabrina Richardson  “They went in there and, I mean, the task force – our task force is 12 men – they went in there and cleared that store. I mean, you’re talking about hundreds of people inside that store. They cleared that store without, one, getting themselves injured or injuring anyone else.” Later Punishment by Law:  Warrants out for the arrest of hundreds of caught looters  In January of 2006: Looters sentenced to 15 years in prison, saying he wanted to send a message. The looting law under which they were convicted had been in effect for two weeks.

19 Sources of information  Senate Press Release:http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&Affiliation=C&PressRele ase_id=3eefdbb4-133f-44a6-b e43d0750&Month=1&Year=2006http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&Affiliation=C&PressRele ase_id=3eefdbb4-133f-44a6-b e43d0750&Month=1&Year=2006  WalMart statistics:  Video:  Oral Histories:  Official Reports:  Newspapers articles:  Documentaries:  Associated Press photograph:


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