All Roles Together

The Bush Administration

The Indictment: You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

It must be shouted, said loudly, repeated again and again: the things that governments do and do not do have consequences that impact real people, in the real world. You, the government of the United States of America, are responsible for the lives lost, the property destroyed, and the people abandoned as a result of your behavior. You, the Bush administration abandoned your responsibility as leaders, abandoned the poor and working classes of New Orleans and the surrounding states. The peoples of these areas have paid the price for your policies.

One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming in from the water. Quite simply, storms can be lessened by preserving the wetlands.

The truth is as follows: the last administration under Clinton set tough protection policies on wetlands. You reversed these policies, ordering federal agencies to stop protecting at least 20 million acres of wetlands. Last year alone, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing how your administration allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands.

In June, your administration slashed and burned 71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. The agency in charge of buffering the coastline in preparation for hurricanes and other storms was gutted. You may argue that this alone did not destroy New Orleans. But, it sure didn’t help. And neither did your tax cuts to the richest Americans. Your cuts have enriched the rich, and slapped the faces of the poor. And without these monies, it became impossible to protect Louisiana from Hurricanes. Poverty rates have risen under your watch from 11.3% to 12.7%.

The gutting your administration employed had a purpose though. Those monies weren’t put to schools, or healthcare, but instead were spent on Iraq, the horrid storm you’ve created overseas. About 35 percent of Louisiana’s National Guard is serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsman. With recruitment numbers down due to fear of being sent to fight in Iraq, where over 2,000 U.S. troops and over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed, the guard was left even more short-handed.

The Louisiana National Guard also lets us in on something interesting. Dozens of its high-water vehicles, humvees, generators and refuelers were sent abroad. That’s right, they were sent to an unjustified war, away from where we need them the most. These vehicles could have been used to help the victims of Katrina.

The levees of New Orleans, the broken ones that flooded the city, also fell victim to Iraq war spending and tax cuts for the super rich. You deliberately moved the budget away from prevention and support services during crises here at home to fund your war abroad. No wonder we had such a tragedy. There wasn’t enough money to prevent or give aid to those who were dying and scavenging for food and water.

Now that the area has been devastated by a hurricane you could have prepared for, a new form of destruction is sweeping the land. In New Orleans it is clear that privatization is on the march, with current rebuilding bids to Kellog Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton (the company that former CEO and now Vice President Dick Cheney still receives checks from), getting the contract to rebuild. It is clear the interests to rebuild will not take into account the poor that your administration have so inhumanely abandoned. As one example of your privatization you suspended the Davis-Bacon act for Katrina rebuilding, meaning that contractors need not pay the prevailing wage for laborers. In other words, real people, with real jobs, will get less money to do work that must be done. Who will benefit? You and your elite friends who own capital.

There is one truth you cannot escape. You, the Bush administration are guilty of criminal carelessness that resulted in the deaths of untold numbers of people. Their blood is on your hands. You and you alone are guilty.


The Indictment: You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

This gets complicated. You are not person, or even a group of people; you are a system. We like to blame crimes on people. In this case however, the real criminal is not human at all.

It is true that the Bush Administration gave tax cuts to the wealthiest of Americans at the expense of the poor and working classes, and that these groups of people were severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina. It is true that FEMA didn’t respond quickly enough to help the poor and largely black population in New Orleans after this catastrophe. It is true that the State and Local Authorities neglected to deliver over 569 buses that could have evacuated over 33,000 people from the area. And, it is true that Rich People of New Orleans guarded their possessions while the poor went without food or water. But ask yourself this: what made these groups behave the way they did? Were they born selfish, concerned only about themselves? No way. The real blame lies with the Free Market Economy, an invisible system that values property over human lives.

The Free Market Economy pushes people to make decisions based on financial gain rather than what might benefit the community. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the market has seen opportunity abound.

For decades social services that benefit everyone — education, community policing, public health, environmental protections and infrastructure repair, emergency services — have been in a steep and steady decline in the face of tax cuts and rising military spending. Why? Because for you, the market, it makes sense. Follow the rules of the Free Market:

  1. The Free Market must expand, must make a profit, or it dies. Like a virus, the Free Market seeks out opportunities like disasters to maximize profit.
  2. The only goal of the Free Market Economy is to make more profit, at whatever cost to the people or planet. You-the Free Market- are not concerned with long-term effects of your actions.
  3. Securing private property is more important than providing for public services. This has devastating results, as people who most need resources are forced to “loot,” while the Free Market protects its investments.

If the goal is to maximize profit, public spending does just the opposite. Public spending puts resources into benefiting the whole of humanity, and not with the profit of the few. This goes against your plans, which is why the Free Market Economy turns to individuals to solve their own problems. The reason you had rich people evacuating New Orleans easily was that they could buy their way out. This fit the rules of your game, at the expense of the poor.

Take into account the calls for withdraw after Hurricane Katrina hit. While the city government called for people to evacuate before the storm, it was on a “free market” basis. No public transportation or shelter was provided for those without a car or who could not afford to rent a hotel room. Think about that. No help or aid. Do sane people call on a free for all evacuation without government aid? No. It is a diseased system that poisons people’s minds with the idea that we as individuals are the only ones responsible for our lives. When the Bush Administration, and the State and Local Authorities called for an evacuation they were only following your rules.

Think about this: 28% of people in New Orleans live in poverty, and of those 84% are black. 35% of black households did not have a car. You, the Free Market Economy encourage people to “look out for number 1,” to care more about personal well being than the well being of the communities in the aftermath of Katrina. This line of thinking devastated New Orleans, and was clearly racist, and classist, utterly destructive second hurricane.

Through one of your greatest strengths, your invisibility, you force corporations and politicians at the federal and state levels to care more about making a profit than about saving lives; to care more about the bottom line than about rebuilding communities with people in control of the resources; to care more about “me” and less about “we.”

Of course, you, the Free Market, are extremely shortsighted. A refusal to invest tens of millions of dollars into strengthening levees has led to a catastrophe that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Strategic planning could have saved the tax payers billions of dollars before this disaster. But, with your Free Market Economy vision is only short term. You see profits to be made during the rebuilding, at tax payer expense, but you could not look long term. This reveals the extreme shortsightedness and anarchy inherent in capitals expansion. Decisions are made only concerning tomorrow’s, “bottom line.” Long-range planning, investment in preventive measures or public infrastructure, and democratic involvement is foreign to the way that you, the Free Market Economy, operate.

And the Free Market Economy continues it’s quest. Case in point: The crucial New Orleans marshland that absorbs excess water during storms has been greatly eroded by rampant commercial development allowed by a deregulation-crazy culture that favors a quick buck over long-term community benefits.

You see opportunity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and boy are you deceptive. You maximize profits at any cost. To fool those who watch the nightly news, you push the idea that everyone needs jobs after the hurricane. So far so good. Your thinking goes that during a time of crisis, the most important thing is to get people working. Secretly however, you push through laws that expand the Free Market Economy’s right to grow without checks and balances. You help people believe that they need to reverse the rights for workers in the favor of rights for profit. One example of this is the removal of the Davis-Bacon act, which requires companies to pay living wages to workers. Now, as New Orleans is rebuilt, the act doesn’t come into effect, which limits the pay that workers can make. It’s like telling everyone you have a job for them and then only paying them half of what you should. The result: contracting companies that are rebuilding New Orleans need not pay the prevailing wage for laborers, so the poor and working classes suffer even more, while the rich maximize profits.

As a final test to see who is guilty for the massive devastation the people of New Orleans experienced during and after Hurricane Katrina, ask yourself these questions:

If it had been some other administration besides the Bush one, would they not have continued using tax payer money for the huge military machine in the U.S. at the expense of the poor?

Would public services have been sufficient in New Orleans, even if that meant corporations wouldn’t profit?

Would a different Louisiana governor not have ordered citizens shot who were “looting” food and water from stores because this governor wanted to protect private property?

You know the answer: Any presidential administration, or state and local authority would have been every bit as bad as the Bush Administration, or the current State and Local Authorities of Louisiana. Why? Because the Free Market Economy is to blame, not any particular individual.

You, the Free Market Economy are concerned with making profit and nothing else. Without your system there would be no second disaster, as state and local as well as federal authorities would have already spent needed monies on public infrastructure to benefit all. Without you, monies would not have been invested in the expansion of the Free Market and the expense of people. Although you are the invisible player in this trial, it is your structure that has created this situation of inequality and injustice in the first place. Therefore, you, the Free Market Economy, must shoulder the blame.


The Indictment: You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) your responsibility is to manage services and support during national crisis such as Hurricane Katrina. As is obvious to see, you didn’t do your job. You and your (former)director Michael Brown waited until about five hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he asked his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security workers to support rescuers in the region. That time, some of the most important time after the hurricane hit, could have been spent helping the poor and displaced of New Orleans to move to safe ground.

At FEMA you have five of a total eight top officials with no emergency management experience. Did you hear me? Five of the top eight have no experience. None. Zip. Zero. What gross negligence on your part. Michael Brown’s inexperience is no exception, as he was fired from his last job, supervising Arabian horse shows. No joke.

You may argue that this disaster was unavoidable, and that one government organization cannot do it alone. You may argue that we need faith based organizations to support us in times of crisis, and that FEMA is expected to do too much, Baloney. To begin with, faith based organizations and private corporations have in the past been overburdened by emergencies much smaller than Katrina, and now you expect that they should bear the brunt of the responsibility. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Your agency is clearly mismanaged. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, who oversees FEMA, ignored and dismissed reports of thousands of displaced peoples who were trapped in the New Orleans convention center for days without food or water. Chertoff called the reports, “rumors and anecdotes.” Rumors and anecdotes? Really? Although Chertoff later changed his position, it is glaringly obvious the gross mismanagement of the crisis.

FEMA director Michael Brown explained the death toll in New Orleans to “people who did not heed evacuation warnings.” So I have a few questions of my own for FEMA director Michael Brown. If you were poor and without money, how would you “evacuate?” Mr. Brown, if you had no transportation from which to leave the city how is it that you would leave? Mr. Brown, if you had no where to go, no wealthy relatives to rely on, no credit cards to buy you motel rooms on the quick where would you end up?

Mr. Brown and FEMA’s guilt doesn’t end with their unwillingness to empathize with the victims of this tragedy. Since Hurricane Katrina, more than 90 countries and international organizations offered to assist in recovery efforts for the flood-stricken region, but nearly all endeavors were stalled in bureaucratic entanglements, in most cases, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Countries that the U.S. has been hostile towards have even offered help. Both Cuba and Venezuela stepped up to help in relief efforts, only to be shoed away.

Cuban president Fidel Castro, On August 29 offered, as the nation closest and with the most applicable experience in dealing with hurricanes, to send 1100 medical personnel and equipment immediately to the scene of the disaster. Castro spelled out exactly how they would go about it. Remember that Cuba evacuated over a million people in the path of a level 5 hurricane in the 90’s, with zero loss of life. Castro made the offer privately yet their aid was rejected.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez offered two mobile hospital units, 120 rescue and first aid experts and 50 tons of food. The offer also included 10 water purification plants, 18 power generation plants and 20 tons of bottled water, and even subsidies for Citgo gas, the Venezuelan owned company. Yet again, FEMA and others rejected the offers.

The Navy ship Batton was in the region ready to respond, but with the lack of organization at FEMA, could not. A good share of the space on the ship remained empty, days after Katrina hit, as thousands crowded in horrid conditions on land. FEMA didn’t utilize the Battan correctly, and as a result, these peoples, many of whom were poor and black, remained on land without assistance. Some may argue that FEMA didn’t have the funds. This too is their own fault.

FEMA clearly allowed itself to be de-funded, and made incompetent in order to discredit government. A discredited government then has to turn to the private sector for help. This is where the Red Cross and various other faith-based organizations can reap profits. In reality, a quick response by your organization, FEMA, would have revealed the importance of government in times of catastrophe. Instead, you needed the private sector to step up its support to ensure that profits would be made in Katrina’s aftermath. For these reasons, you, and you alone are guilty.

Poor New Orleans Residents

The Indictment:You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

Some say that you are the victims of Hurricane Katrina. This is far from the truth. Although you may have been the ones dying in large numbers, languishing in the filthy and crowded Super Dome and Convention Center, or waiting stranded on rooftops for food, you brought on all of this yourself. All of it was your own fault.

Some say that you are the victims due to the extreme poverty and dire living conditions you find yourselves in. They say that your lifestyle made it impossible to leave New Orleans and that you were trapped without an escape. But you had to know that you were on your own. The government wasn’t going to help you, and you knew it. Many of you had welfare cut in the 90’s by the federal government, and some of you were even removed from your homes by mayor Ray Nagin so that “development” projects might come in. When you were pushed out of your homes, many showed no concern. All of you must have known you would not have the state, local, or federal government to protect you.

Not everyone in the United States blames their problems on the government during a crisis. You, on the other hand, seem willing to place blame on others and none on yourself. Well, what did you expect? You live in a city below sea level; a fishbowl below the water line waiting to be flooded. You knew the danger of New Orleans, yet you chose to stay put. Can you really expect the government to protect you when you haven’t learned how to protect your own best interests and move to a city without the potential for flooding?

And there was ample warning to leave to higher ground, but many of you refused to leave. Some 80% of families in New Orleans left before the landfall of Katrina. What did you do? Sit and wait. And this is the governments fault? You had three days notice given to you. The majority of New Orleanians found ways out of the city. Laziness is not an excuse.

You may claim that 28% of New Orleanians live in poverty; that 84% of these residents are black, and that 35% of these people lack vehicles to escape the flooding. You may even say this proves that the system is racist. You may say that poor people are some of the hardest working, but they can’t find a way up the social ladder. But how about working harder in life instead of blaming others for your place in this world? How about working to buy a car, working to get out of poverty and on your feet? Cry me a river.

Who knows why you stayed, why you decided to not help yourselves. Had you worked harder in life maybe you would not have been so poor and unable to leave. Maybe you could have saved your money, pulled your life together, and escaped poverty.

However, as a result of your inaction, you are the only people responsible for the conditions the world found you in. If you want to find the guilty party, look in the mirror.

Rich People of New Orleans

The Indictment: You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

You are guilty for what you didn’t do before Katrina hit, what you did do during Katrina, and what you plan to do after. It is clear, that at each of these times, you cared more about your personal property and wealth than about human lives. You should be ashamed of yourselves.


Where were you in the years before the storm, when 28% of your fellow New Orleanians were poor? Where were you during the first tragedy: the poor and mostly black people of New Orleans being left to fend for themselves in run-down schools, a corrupt police force and a local government that put corporate interests ahead of public good? Where were you during this first storm? I’ll tell you.

While the poor of New Orleans struggled through life, you received break after break. Through tax relief that benefited you the most, you were able to push the idea that governmental social spending is bad, unless it helped the private industry. Of course, you put forward your plan to privatize public industries like education, healthcare, and others, so that you could redistribute public monies into your own pockets. This devastated the poor and working classes of New Orleans, who couldn’t afford to compete with you, and who needed social services to survive. Instead, you helped to create more poverty in the area, and this led to the conditions experienced by the poor.


When Hurricane Katrina struck, you continued to protect private property at the expense of human lives. Next door to the convention center, in the restricted-access New Orleans Centre and Hyatt Hotel, you were fed ‘foie gras and rack of lamb’ for dinner, while the struggling masses, most of them poor and black, huddled in the Dome. With a line of state police armed with assault rifles you protected your own and drove the crowds of evacuees back from the entrance of the hotel. How did your food taste, knowing that human beings next door to you were dying from starvation and lack of water?

In the areas surrounding your homes, areas like Audubon Park; places where most of the homes are built on higher ground to avoid flooding, you hired armed guards to protect your homes and private property. Your first concern was things, not people, not helping others. Your first concern was your wealth. How despicable.


After Hurricane Katrina hit, the predominantly African American neighborhoods of New Orleans were left underwater, and the people who lived there scattered across the country. But in many of the predominantly white and more affluent areas, streets were dry and passable. Gracious homes were mostly intact and powered by generators, while those without resources were left to rot, unable to gather up supplies for the trek, money for travel, or areas to stay outside of New Orleans.

Now that the poor have been scattered across the country many won’t be able to afford a return trip. You see opportunity in their absence. One of your power elite, a Mr. O’Dwyer, a man who has his own private helicopter which he used to protect his assets during and after the flooding, gave away your position. O’Dwyer said the elite, “will be meeting in Dallas to decide how to map out a future for New Orleans.” Your plan for the rebuilding is to “clean up” New Orleans by bringing in more corporate headquarters. You’ve had enough of the teeming underclass, the substandard schools and the high crime rates. Out with the poor, in with the corporations to make you more profit.

You believe that the system that made you rich will take care of everybody. The idea you push is that if everyone works hard in life then the system will provide for them. But deep down you know this is an outrageous lie. You know that you are deceiving those who believe your line of thinking. You know that the only people who benefit from the system of profit are the people who own the wealth: people like yourself.

You may say that this is not your responsibility, that it’s the responsibility of government to help protect citizens. But don’t you have a moral obligation to help? During a time of crisis, when push came to shove, the truth was that you didn’t. You cared more about yourself and less about dying human beings who needed your aid. For this you alone are guilty.

State and Local Authorities

The Indictment: You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

What has happened to the New Orleans’ short-term disaster response plan? This is a necessary piece of the aid puzzle that has been largely ignored by you, the state and local authorities which had devastating results for the people of New Orleans. Let me be clear. This is quite simply, your fault.

Every city, every town in America should have a short term aid plan to fill in the gap between when the event happens and the federal aid arrives. Sure, it’s only a stop-gap, but it’s an important one, that in the early going can save lives from being lost. So, what happened to the money the city received to plan and prepare for just such an eventuality? What did Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans and his cronies do with it? You may try to blame others, but you alone should carry the brunt of the responsibility.

Not only did the planning fail during the crisis, but for years New Orleans local authorities and officials invested their money on meaningless things, only to find themselves whining about the federal government. Sure, New Orleans is classified as the number two poorest city behind Detroit. True. But they sure as heck had enough money to build the world’s first indoor football stadium. This is coming from an area that is propane central for the nation, and a major port for the entire Mississippi Valley; yet it seems like you the officials of the state of Louisiana and the local officials from New Orleans have your priorities all screwed up. Instead of putting money where it’s needed most, you spend your money on parties and football. This was planning? You must be joking. You may claim that you are just operating under the Free Market Economy, that your tax base is not as large because of the tax cuts put through by the Bush Administration and their de-funding of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers. And you may argue that you haven’t been getting proper funding from the federal government to help build stronger levees. All of this is true, but you do have choices. And you’ve made some horrible ones.

You, the Nagin administration, have also stepped up efforts to underfund public works projects in favor of helping corporations make the big bucks. You are the corporate mouthpiece for Wal-Mart and other corporate privateers, including the “environmental” award you were handed by Shell Oil Company, one of the greatest polluters in the world. Shell likes to dish out “green bucks” to soften its image in the media, and you, Nagin are their lap dog. It is with this Shell money that your administration set up a Green Project located off St. Claude Avenue, down by the railroad tracks. As mayor you are notorious for caring more about corporate interests than your people. You tore down public housing throughout New Orleans to make way for Lester Kabencoff’s corporate development expansion plans. Shame on you. It seems like there is too much corporate food on your plate, and not enough thinking about the public good.

Your administration had plans just two months before Katrina hit to displace the poor African Americans living in Iberville public housing project to make way for another Lester Kabencoff private corporate development plan, not unlike the project on St. Thomas that once housed poor African Americans, but now houses Wall-Mart. The privatization continued up until the hurricane and will no doubt occur in the rebuilding.

As another of your privatization plans, you have acquired no new public parks and have allowed the current parks to fall into disrepair. The rich are left to use facilities of their private institutions, while the poor have sweltered in poverty cesspools, facing a brutal and corrupt police department that harasses and shoots at them daily. The mayor has great plans for the poor, and most of these are about displacing them and moving them out to New Orleans East.

And your planning during the crisis was equally horrible. Specifically, you let 569 buses that could have carried 33,350 people out of New Orleans in one trip, get ruined in the floods. Whatever your plans were, they fell far short, as the devastation continued with the state government and Kathleen Blanco.

You, as the state government, protected private interests over the interests of people. Kathleen Blanco, the democratic governor of Louisiana, had this to say about “looting” in New Orleans: (We have a) “war on looters.” Referring to newly-deployed National Guard troops fresh back from Iraq, she said “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 so if necessary. And I expect they will.” Her expectation was to protect private property at the expense of the poor and African Americans who were left to rot on the streets of New Orleans.

For these reasons, you and you alone are guilty

The Indictment: You are responsible for the horrendous, barbaric conditions experienced by the peoples of Louisiana and surrounding states after Hurricane Katrina.

You stand accused of the following crimes:

  • The criminalization of poor people of color
  • The deaths of thousands upon thousands of New Orleans peoples.
  • The intimidation of displaced peoples.
  • Destruction of the wetlands prior to Hurricane Katrina
  • Prolonged exposure of New Orleans residents to unbearable living conditions in the Super Dome and the convention center in the aftermath of the storm.
  • The economic impact of the hurricane on poor and historically disadvantaged peoples.
  • Cuts in funding for emergency relief work that have killed and injured thousands as a result.