Katrina: The Purge (except in Real Life)

In case of natural disaster, what lies ahead

Roland Bourgeois (aptly named) corralled his white neighbors and formed a barricade around the neighborhood. They quickly built a roadblock in their area, they collected their weapons stockpile and discussed their plans for defending their territory from outsiders. One of them even mentioned "shooting n*ggers." Mr. Bourgeois gave his son a pair of binoculars to stand watch.

The previous paragraph isn't a scene from the movie Purge. This is real.  It happened on September 1, 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The federal government made announcements about evacuating people. They announced various evacuation points and instructed the residents to go to the nearest evacuation point. Unfortunately, for three American Descendants of Slaves (ADOS) men, identified as D.H., M.A., and C.C., their evacuation point was in the dock in Algiers point. As they walked past the barricade, Mr. Bourgeois fired his shotgun wounding all three. He also fired again and yelled, "Run N*gger, Run." Afterward, Mr. Bourgeois took D.H.'s baseball cap, which was filled with blood as a trophy and showed it to other men who cheered.

D.H. attempted to shield his younger companions from the bullets. He took the brunt of the bullet fire. Bullets pierced through D.H.'s chest, back, stomach, and neck. The bullet that pierced his neck had punctured a hole in his jugular vein. If he didn't get help in minutes, he would bleed to death. M.A. and CC approached several people for help, all of them refused. But, finally, they found a few good Samaritans who drove him to the hospital, where he received surgery for his injuries. Without that surgery, D.H. likely would have died.

Upon hearing this commotion, TB, an ADOS woman who lived in the same street, arrived at the scene. She overheard Mr. Bourgeois boasting that he had shot someone and pledged to "kill that n*gger" if the victim had survived the initial shooting

For T.B., this was frightening. She had invited two of her relatives to her house because the storm did not damage her home. When T.B. told Mr. Bourgeois about her relatives, he replied by saying, "Anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot."

Algiers Point is a posh area in New Orleans, on the bank of the Mississippi River. The residents enjoy access to the river, and there is a dock for ferries to land. The neighborhood is a mix of residential houses and tourist attractions. The residents of Algiers Point skew wealthy and white.

A few days beforehand, Reginald Bell, another neighbor of Bourgeois, saw the white ethnonationalistic militia post signs that said, "We shoot looters." Reginald was sitting on his front porch with his girlfriend. The armed militia shoved guns up the couple's face and said, "We do not serve your kind here."

Later, Mr. Bell recalls, "There was no electricity, no police, no nothing. We were like sitting ducks. I slept with a butcher knife and a hatchet under my pillow."

Meanwhile, in another quiet suburb on the west bank of the Mississippi, Gretna, the local police sent up barricades to prevent anyone from entering the suburb.  On top of that, the local police chief had ordered the federal bridge that connected Gretna to the rest of New Orleans closed. According to a Federal Guard, Leo Boeche, he led a group of mostly poor and black people across the bridge. As soon as they started to cross the bridge, local police began to spray bullets and shotguns.

Governor's Order

Instead of mobilizing the first response to assist citizens of New Orleans, Governor Kathleen Blanco ordered police and troops to shoot to kill. Her exact words were:

Three hundred of the Arkansas National Guard have landed in the city of New Orleans. These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle-tested and under my orders to restore order in the streets. They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do

Danzinger Bridge

On September 4, 2005, two families, both black, the Bartholomews and the Madisons tried to cross the Danzinger bridge. The Bartholomew family included Leonard, his wife, Susan, their eighteen-year-old daughter, Lesha, and their fifteen-year-old son, Leonard IV. He Bartholomews were also caring for two other teenagers, Jose Holmes, and James Brissette. Jose Holmes was Leonard's Nephew. James Brissette was Lesha's classmate. He had lost track of his family during the storm.

The Madison family had just two members Lance Madison and his mentally disabled brother Ronald.

Sadly, fate would have it so that both the Bartholomews and the Madisons tried to cross the Danzinger bridge at the same time: around 9:00 AM. According to the police, officer Jennifer Dupree radioed her fellow officers that she was in distress. For some strange reason, five police officers jumped into a rental truck and sped on the truck until they reached the Danzinger bridge. Since the rental truck had no sirens, no one could know that these were police officers.

According to eyewitness accounts, the police came in guns blazing, and one of them even had an illegal AK-47.  One police officer started shooting at the Bartholomew family, and they end up hitting everyone except the youngest, Leonard IV.  Then a second officer joined in on the carnage. The Bartholomew family crossed the median and stepped over the concrete section of the bridge in hopes of avoiding further gunfire.   Unfortunately, the police shot James Brissette in the stomach, and he was examining his wounds when the police fired two more bullets, killing him. 

Meanwhile, as soon as Lance Madison saw the gunfire, he and his brother turned around and started running.  Unfortunately, the police shot Ronald in the back, killing him. After seeing the body of Ronald lie limp on the street, one of the officers, Sergeant Bowen, got out of his vehicle and began to kick Ronald's lifeless body.   Another officer, Officer Hunter intervened, to stop Bowen. After he stopped kicking Ronald, Bowen apologized to Hunter, and Hunter responded, "We are not animals, like them," pointing towards Ronald. 

One of the officers arrested Lance Madison, and he was helplessly forced to watch the police hunting down his mentally-handicapped brother.  Nevertheless, he was arrested for shooting at police officers, even though he didn't have a weapon. On September 28, 3005, Lance, who had been in jail for nearly three weeks appeared before a judge, and he was indicted for eight counts of attempted murder of the police officers.  The police officers' testimony during the indictment were all very consistent, a bit too consistent.  Nonetheless, during these early stages, the police officers were able to get a good story out of it.  The media reported these police officers as heroes who protected the city from criminal violence. 

However, upon further investigation, their entire case fell apart, and three weeks later, all charges were dropped on Lance Madison.  But, unfortunately, there were no charges on the police officers who mercilessly gunned down two families seeking help until December of 2006.

During the trial, one of the police officers noted that he was given an order to "shoot to kill all looters”, which probably trickled down from the Governor's office.  

Superdome Rumors

While many victims of the flood huddled into the Superdome for help, the media was busy spreading rumors of gang violence and babies getting raped.  The former police chief in New Orleans, even went on Oprah to spread the tale of babies getting raped. However, in real life, the people in the Superdome were the poorest and weakest.  They were the elderly who couldn't evacuate, poor people who didn't have the money to leave town, the disabled and people with young children.  The federal government hadn't' prepared with adequate food.  People didn't get fed regularly, and they kept on getting word that buses were coming to evacuate.  Of course, no buses went for a week. Some of the weak and elderly did die of natural causes. Some succumbed to pneumonia; others succumbed because they didn't have access to their medication.  For weeks, the media pushed the rumor about gang activity and imagined crimes inside the super dome.

However, during Katrina, the 24-hour news stations started to air speculation based on rumors.  None of these real-life horror stories made it to any of the newsrooms. For example, on CNN's Situation Room, one commentator claimed that people were shooting at rescue workers (which was false). The media reported many inaccuracies and racial tropes. NBC News correspondent Brian Williams argued that the city was "overrun by gangs."

Within a few months,  many media sources claimed that the crime wave from Katrina had migrated to other cities too! Other outlets claimed that the gangs from New Orleans were in Houston.

With the increase in climate change, we will see more category five hurricanes. Inland Areas won't be safe anymore. I offer this article as a warning of what could happen in these areas. Recently, Senator Lindsay Graham espoused genocidal fantasies about shooting looters in a tweet. The white supremacist militias are strong as ever. The federal government is probably less prepared to deal with these extreme weather events than ever before. In the not too near future, we may see a sequel of The Purge/Katrina.

This article is based on research done by @unabanned on twitter.

Here is his original thread: