September 07, 2005

That Ain't Right

I'm definitely not feeling warm & fuzzy about this.

Authorities Increase Pressure on Holdouts in New Orleans.

"After days of pleading with residents to leave this partly destroyed city, local officials said today that they would begin forced evacuations of all residents, including people living in dry and undamaged homes."

I hope those "officials" who decided to use force to evict people from their homes are the ones knocking on the door. But I doubt they have the integrity or the courage to face what should be waiting for them. Instead they'll send others out to risk their necks, all the while thinking they're just doing their jobs.

"As many as 10,000 people remain in the city, and some residents said they would not comply with official orders to leave their homes - which could produce ugly confrontations with police officers or soldiers."

Not could; will. & it should. I cannot condemn a man for protecting his home against a real & substantial threat.

"But city officials said today that the risk of fire and disease had left them with no choice but to use force, if necessary, to evacuate anyone who resisted leaving."

They have a choice. & I would wager that the motivator is not the risk of fire or disease, but the risk of more deaths creating bad publicity for those officials making this decision. It may very well be that they're actually concerned for the well being of the residents who choose to stay, but I have trouble ascribing well intentioned motives to the people in charge of New Orleans. Motivations aside though what they are doing is morally reprehensible.

"Police officials did not give a timetable for the forced evacuations, but said Louisiana law gives Mayor C. Ray Nagin the authority to declare martial law and order the evacuation. 'There's a martial law declaration in place that gives us legal authority for mandatory evacuations,' said the superintendent of police, P. Edwin Compass III, said at a news conference today."

My understanding is that it's not martial law per se', because of Louisianan’s legal system. Course the governor's & Mayor's powers would amount to de facto martial law so it could have just been sloppy language.

But legal or not, any edict by the government that forces someone out of their own home is immoral & repugnant to the entire concept of the law (which ideally protects the equal Rights of others).

"We'll use the minimum amount of force necessary."

I sincerely hope that they are met with disproportionate amounts of force. Of course I don't want to see this conflict occur at all, but if the government down there is set upon such a flagrant disregard for the property rights of its people then I hope those people are able to mount an effective resistance to them until such time as they are no longer being threatened.

"Capt. Marlon Defillo of the police said that instead of forcing unwilling residents to evacuate, law enforcement authorities were focusing for now on people who wanted to be rescued. And Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge of the Army said at a Pentagon briefing that any such evacuations were a job for the 900 police officers in the city and that as a law enforcement issue, the regular troops would not be used."

I hope that's where their focus remains. & I applaud Lt. General Inge & the pentagon for having more sense than to allow regulars to take part in any forced evacuations. Though I am not certain if they will not back up the local cops if forceful resistance to eviction is necessitated.

"State officials said that the decision ultimately rested with Mr. Nagin, but that Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's approval would be required before Louisiana National Guard forces, which she commands, could conduct a coercive evacuation."

"Coercive evacuation"? Well that's a nice term for forcing someone out of their own damn home at gunpoint. I hope the Governor resists what I think is inevitable: Mayor Nagin begging for NG troops to use force to evict people from their homes.

"It's a very tough decision to force an American out of their home,' the chief of disaster relief for the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Arthur G. Jones, said. 'We're there to help them, not hurt them."

"We're from the government & we're here to help you". Hmmm, where have I heard that before...

It should be a tough decision to do something immoral, but I fear it isn't tough enough to dissuade them from their course. What I hope they realize before they attempt it is that it's even tougher to act out that decision, as a free man defending his home is not something to be trifled with.

"At Lee Circle, Victor Mejia, 58, a janitor, stood in the shade on Tuesday and said that he had no intention of leaving. 'I live here,' he said. 'Where am I going to go?"

It should never be a government decision to abandon your home. It may be unwise of the people who stay to stay. They may be endangering their lives. They may be risking their health. But it's their lives & their health to risk, not the government’s. Mr. Mejia might be staying because he has no other place to live. He might be staying because he has no other place he wants to live. Whatever his reasons he should not be forced to leave,

I am not saying that staying is wise. From what I understand the gas leaks & threat of disease are serious risks to anyone down there & I would encourage anyone who is down there to leave. But I cannot condone forcing people out of their homes at gunpoint.

New Orleans' Holdouts Coaxed From Homes

"Soldiers coaxed some of Hurricane Katrina's stubborn holdouts from their homes Wednesday after the mayor ordered all 10,000 or so residents still in this ruined city evacuated — by force, if necessary — because of the risk of fires and disease."

If they are encouraging people to leave by telling them of the dangers I don't have a problem with it. Using force or the threat of force is what I'm concerned with.

"I haven't left my house in my life. I don't want to leave,' said a frail-looking 86-year-old Anthony Charbonnet, shaking his head as he locked his front door and walked slowly backwards down the steps of the house where he had lived since 1955."

Perhaps it was best for the old man to leave, but that's a decision best left to the old man, not anyone else. It does not sound like he left willingly. It sounds as if he thought he had no choice. I doubt they used open threats. I do not doubt that they told him they would force him to leave if he did not leave under his own power. That is wrong.

"Charbonnet left only after a neighbor assured him: 'Things will be OK. It'll be like a vacation.' Still protesting, Charbonnet stepped into the ambulance in which soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division would take him to a helicopter."

I see no reason for the man to think things will be okay. The government forced him from his home. How can things be okay after that?

"As floodwaters began to slowly recede with the first of the city's pumps returning to operation, Mayor C. Ray Nagin instructed law enforcement officers and the U.S. military late Tuesday to evacuate all holdouts for their own safety. He warned that the fetid water could spread disease and that natural gas was leaking all over town."

Mayor Nagin does not have the authority to use soldiers to force people out of their homes. Not that he has an in depth understanding or concern for the constitution of the nation or his state, but he cannot order soldiers to force people out of their homes.

"As of midday Wednesday, there were no reports of anyone being removed by force."


"We have thousands of people who want to voluntarily evacuate at this time,' Police Chief Eddie Compass said. Once they all are out, he said, 'then we'll concentrate our forces on mandatory evacuation."

I hope they give up after they get the folks who want to leave out of there. I doubt they will but they still have time to realize the error of their ways.

"Nagin's everyone-out directive - which superseded an earlier, milder order to evacuate made before Hurricane Katrina crashed ashore Aug. 29 - came after rescuers scouring New Orleans found hundreds of people ignoring warnings to get out."

I imagine Mayor Nagin is upset that he would be disobeyed. I also imagine that he's forgotten that what he is doing is telling his bosses that they have to do something that they clearly don't wish to do.

"Several residents said they heard Nagin's latest order on portable radios and were reluctantly complying.
Dolores Devron and her husband, Forcell, finally agreed to go. Dolores Devron said she was relieved the couple were allowed to take their dog with them but angry they were ordered out.
'There are dead babies tied to poles and they're dragging us out and leaving the dead babies. That ain't right!' she screamed, waving her arms as she was directed onto a troop carrier truck."

No; it ain't right. It probably is a good idea to leave the city, but the Mayor doesn't have the power to enforce whatever he thinks is a good idea. No person in this country does. Using reason to encourage people to leave is the limit of what proper government can do. Telling homeowners that they have to leave is criminal.

When they start the forced evacuations (though I would consider the threat of force to have already begun) there will be some confrontations. I do not know how severe the actions on either side would be, nor can I speculate at the outcome. I just know that if it were my home & I did not wish to leave they'd have to kill me.

What will happen in new Orleans will have ramifications more serious than any decision by the courts, no matter how wrongfully decided. Fire on the Mountain is a post I wrote after such a wrongfully decided court decision. Perhaps I should have named it Fire on the Bayou.

Watch New Orleans. & pray for those who value their homes more than the dictates of a petty ruler.

Posted by Publicola at September 7, 2005 03:38 PM | TrackBack
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