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tv   Hurricane Katrina Evacuees Experience  CSPAN  August 29, 2015 1:00pm-2:21pm EDT

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that they had there. i feel bad for the people that were left behind because the buses were supposed trying to get back to new orleans. never made it. now i am in alabama, just living, but i don't think i can return back until they fix some things. i have been back to visit many times and there are still houses boarded up, businesses boarded up. places gone. i have some family that did return. i am not ready to return until they fix a lot of things. as far as the crime down there, they have all these cameras everywhere. they need to have somebody manning these cameras and they can see what is going on in that city. give people jobs to help look at the cameras on a daily basis and see what is going on in that city and curb some of this crime.
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crime is ridiculous there. that is another reason people do not want to return. host: got you. thank you and thank everyone that participated in this program today. don't forget that 10th anniversary public commemoration ceremony that takes place in portland's at 6:00 and -- in new orleans at 6:00 tonight. you can look at our website for more information on that. tomorrow will be joined by michael bender from bloomberg. some issues concerning statements or hillary clinton and other candidates. that will be discussed tomorrow. we will take a look at the topic of climate change. the president is heading to alaska to speak about the issue. -- david krueutzer
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and daniel weiss will be here to talk about that. see you then. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> on this 10th anniversary of hurricane katrina, "the wall street journal" looking get some faces of katrina and where they are today. fema director michael brown whose katrina response prompted the president to say he is doing a heckuva job, it became and him will him of federal government out of touch with the suffering in new orleans. he was forced out two weeks after katrina.
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he is now a drivetime host in denver and a speaker on the lecture circuit on the topic of resilience after a disaster, both natural and professional. ray nagin, then mayor of new orleans that called for a mandatory evacuation bus and 24 hours before katrina made landfall, he made lane spoken calls for help for the government to "get off your asses." he called for your lens remain a black-led city when it rebuilt after katrina. sentence on a tenure -yearharges -- 10 sentence. read more from the article at "the wall street journal." we focus our programming on the tenure anniversary of the hurricane. of next new orleans residents
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testified at a 2005 federal hearing on the response to katrina. then he panel hosted by "the atlantic." the challenges facing the gulf region and disaster preparedness. that is followed by mitch landrieu on recovery in his city . later, fema administrator greg fugate on national disaster preparedness. former president ill clinton, mary landrieu, nevers of congress, new orleans residents, faith leaders, and advocates who helped the city recover will take part in a public commemoration in celebration of new orleans resilience. posted by soledad o'brien, it will be held on this official anniversary of katrina's landfall at the smoothie king center in new orleans. you can watch it at 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span.
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this sunday night on q and a, the booking institutions senior fellow talks about the u.s. counterinsurgency and state-building efforts in afghanistan. >> the u.s. did achieve improvements in security, but ultimately depends on how it ends. increasinglyut question myself. we do not know how it will end. -- it ishdraw about also possible that five years down the road we will be back in a new civil war in afghanistan. isis is slowly emerging in the country, a terrifying prospect. the taliban is deeply entrenched and hardly defeated. if we end up five years down the road in a new civil war in and a new safe haven for the taliban and isis, i
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would say it was not worst the fight -- price. c-span special coverage of hurricane katrina coverage continues with testimony of toilets residence at a 2005 congressional hearing. it was organized in response to allegations of racially motivated mistreatment of katrina victims by authorities. then commerce and tom davis chaired the select bipartisan committee to investigate the preparation and response to hurricane katrina. this is about an hour and 15 minutes.
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-- withal weeks ago that request and might and having already planned a hearing featuring testimony from storm victims, today we hope to better understand the experiences of gulf coast residents, including those forced to evacuate during this catastrophe. only by hearing from those most likely affected by katrina can we determine where, how, and why the government response at all levels was so terribly inadequate. we cannot ignore the fact that katrina has spawned wide reaching debate. some have suggested the race and class factors -- this hearing will examine those issues more closely to the committee is interested in discussing organization goals, interests, and challenges related to the long-term recovery in the rebuilding of the gulf coast.
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housing, education, different visions for the future norlin's, we cannot review how decisions made or not made before the storm can affect the long-term challenges. we will hear testimony from individuals and organizations are presenting affected communities on a government preparation and response was effective in a long-term challenge of rebuilding the gulf coast. witnesses will testimony -- testify. there is little question katrina has sparked new debate about race and class and institutional approaches for vulnerable population groups in the united states. in the aftermath of the storm, a wide array of media reports have underscored this reality. in a september speech to the nation, president bush touched on the issue. as all of us saw, there were some deep poverty in the region as well. that poverty has roots in the history of racial discrimination
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which cut off generations from the opportunity of america. since then the debate has become increasingly heated. orleanssiting new shelters, jesse jackson was quoted as saying "it is like looking at the whole of the slave ship." and thatrrakhan said " led me there was a 25 foot hole with suggested it'd been blown up so that the water would destroy the black part of town." while not all the commentary has been constructive, accurate, warfare, the committee leaves it is -- warrants further discussion. and within the context of making sure government response is superior the next time. we know from e-mails and other documents that they were almost immediately sensitive to public perceptions of race in the inadequate response. cautionedhe governor colleagues about how to respond to a request from a representative about securing escorts shortly after the storm."
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please handle this carefully. we are getting enough that press on race relations." e-mails to former fema director reflecting similar concerns about public relations and racial politics. from september reports that 60% of african-americans and only 12% of whites to leave race is a factor in the slow response to katrina. sevenr poll found that out of 10 blacks believe the disaster showed racial inequality remains a major problem in america. a majority of whites disagreed. evacueesr survey of 46 concluded that issues of race and class work central to evacuation experiences. for many the evacuation process was complicated by age, mental or physical disability, i need to care for dependents, or material possessions they were trained to take with them.
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"the washington post" and harvard university conducted face-to-face interviews with 680 randomly selected adults in houston. when asked if it made you feeling the government cares about people like you or is making purely the government does not care, 61% reported they felt the government does not care. evacuees suggested an intersection between race and class. 68% of respondents thought the federal government to respond or quote if more people trapped in the floodwaters are wealthier and white rather than poor and black. in early november form at emerson college, a former regional director for fema reportedly suggested that race had to be a factor in the inadequate response. "i'm telling you as a professional that you could not have had a mistake of this nature is something else was not at foot." believes thet one police are well-founded, -- as
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the brookings institute has grownnew orleans extreme he segregated by both race and income by the time of the storm. as a result blacks and whites were living in different worlds for the storm hit. at the very least the committee howld further explore socioeconomic factors contributed to the extremes of those directly affected by the storm. a survey found that almost all interviewees describe evacuation process as disorderly and disorganized with minimal to indication about where they were heading and when the next transportation would arrive. this created a state of uncertainty and insecurity. working-class african-americans did not evacuate because they had best did not have the financial resources to do so. the committee hopes to learn of theout the dangers
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hurricane that could've been presented in a more effective manner. not hear the message from someone you trust, you tend to be skeptical said the vice president of the joint center for political and economic studies. if you get conflicting information from people you are not sure of, and action may be the most prudent form of action. the same magazine article noted the disaster response may be hampered by not taking the circumstances of various residences into account. he will. the verbal image measures do not take into account access of physical barriers to opportunities in certain communities, said the director -- thecommittee should examine message. we will hear about the events -- three daysd in after hurricane katrina made landfall. thousands of evacuees attempted across the river, the greater
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new orleans bridge to gretna. it's possibly two thirds white. it indicates evacuees that it could provide them with a refuge but three police agencies blocked entrance to the west -- and they were not prepared to provide food, water, and shelter. the mayor reported that in addition to being unable to a comment thousands of evacuees, "we are concerned about rights and property. it is evident a criminal element was contained in the crowd of mostly decent people." "this was not a 9/11 tragedy with good hardness all around. you have anarchy and civil disobedience." the gretna city council passed a resolution supporting the police chief decision to block the bridge. since then gretna officials have been criticized for what is seen as racially motivated denials have assistance. -- of assistance.
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the controversy over gretna's decision highlights the speculation about whether race played a role in response to hurricane katrina. it is hard not to point fingers and assign blame in the aftermath of a tragedy. i understand human nature and i understand politics. i think most americans want less harping in more compassion. they want irrational, thoughtful, bipartisan review of what went wrong in what went right. most want to know if we will be prepared better next time. need tosaid -- we ignore said disasters bring out the best and sometimes the worst in people. the possibility that different people may hear different things from elected officials. when you do a better understanding of the reality on the ground given that this evolve.ion does not members will have seven days to smit written testimony -- statements for the record and i asked that mr. taylor, mr.
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jefferson, ms. mckinney, mr. scott be permitted to participate in today's hearing and without objection so ordered. would anyone else like to make an opening statement? ms. mckinney: first of all i want to say thank you for allowing us to have this very important hearing today. this is an opportunity for us to crystallize exactly what the katrina experience was all about. it was about the lives of the people in the gulf state. it was about the people who are witnesses here today who are going to tell their stories before this committee before this congress. and i hope we will adopt legislation that will make their lives easier. that will redress the problem that they are going to outline for us today. i want to thank the members who have come in to washington dc early so they could participate
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in this committee meeting today. today is about the citizens who were swept up in the storm and it is their opportunity to speak. i would like to take the opportunity to recognize there are three people out in the audience. one of home is reverend yearwood with the hip-hop caucus who joined me in a park in new -- wereand we would determined to do something that was denied the people of new orleans who were trying to seek high ground. some people some too low ground. we were determined to change that. androssed the gretna bridge i went to a knowledge the people
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who made that crossing here with us today. i want to set the stage for the racism, the role that racism had dailyayed in the presence of the lives of people that are testifying today. racism is something we do not like to talk about but we have to acknowledge it. effects ofld saw the american-style racism in the drama as it was outplayed by the katrina survivors. it is reported that during the 1980's jefferson parish sheriff lee ordered special scrutiny for any black people traveling in white sections of the parish. he is quoted by the paper by saying "it is obvious that two young blacks driving a car in a predominately white everett will be stopped -- neighborhood will be stopped."
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before he withdrew his officers from economically black neighborhood after protests directed went to black men died while in his care, he is reported to have said, "to hell with them. i have not heard one word of support from one black person." in april of this year the blacks complained they were using a can -- caricature of a black and for target practice. share fleet left when presented the charges in commented, "i looked at it and do not find it offensive and i had an interesting correcting it." in may of this year a 16-year-old joy rider in a 110en car was murdered when shots were fired into the stolen truck, striking him and injuring two other teenage passengers. in response to criticism from black ministers over the lycident, sheriff lee reported responded, "i can kiss my ass." i don't talk like that but
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encoding the sheriff. another police chief is equally impressive. his justification for trapping katrina survivors in new orleans have opened the bridge, our city would look like new orleans. does now looted, burn, and pillaged." eyewitnesses report that before they were close enough to speak, officers began firing their weapons over the heads of new orleans survivors. officers are reported to have said they wanted no superdomes in their city. no wonder reverend your wit and i were threatened with arrest. dr. king said that racism, poverty, and war where the three pillars of injustice. i think it's very clear that
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racism, poverty, and war have been unmatched -- unmasked in the american setting with what happened to the katrina survivors. the pentagon had admitted that a war did affect their response. it is now time for this congress to ignore it and address the roles that racism and poverty played in the conditions facing black people in new orleans. this committee should recommended passage of the congressional black caucus legislation to introduce -- introduced in order to address the issues that katrina has exposed to us. including seriously addressing the issue of poverty in this country. i want to commend the witnesses for taking the time, the effort, the resources, the precious resources to come here and
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enlighten us today. and i hope that we all will be listening. thank you, mr. chairman. yourd the other members? statement will be cemented into record. >> thank you mr. chairman. great for you responded so positively to this hearing. i think it is essential. the reason i wanted to serve in this committee is the faces i saw, the families, the victims of katrina. a few hearing from just of the families affected. thethis is why we have seriousness to understand what you went through and understand why you went through it and make sure it never, ever happens again. thank you, mr. chairman. >> let me say to the witnesses how grateful we are to have you here today. stewart, you were speaking for thousands of people in similar situations.
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it is our policy that we swear witnesses in before testifying. andturow williams, evacuated owns a construction business and is now living in washington dc. -- this patricia thompson, a new roads rejected across the bridge to gretna but was turned back by police. ms. lee hodges, and evacuate who helped evacuate belted -- elderly residents. in this diane french who did not evacuate and opened her home as a makeshift shelter. it is our policy before you testified. if you would rise and raise your right hand. [oath administered] mr. williams, as i explained earlier, we have a light in front of you. the light goes on when you start. after four minutes it turns orange, red after five.
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i know what you have to say is important, feel you need to go a little bit after that, we understand. but we're trying to keep on a schedule as best we can. for those of you who have submitted written testimony, that entire testimony is part of the public record. mr. williams, we'll start with you and go straight down the line. again, thank you for taking the time to be with us. >> thank you. i live in -- >> there's a button you push right in front of you our microphone. try it. >> thank you. i lived in uptown new orleans, not far from memorial hospital. i finished paying for my house three years ago, started my own construction company. for the 18 years prior to that i was computer systems engineer at the national finance in new orleans as a federal employee. initially i decided not to evacuate because the storm was heading east of new orleans. my decision was rational at the time, especially given the fact that the hurricane
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itself caused little damage to my home. on saturday before the storm, i recall hearing the mayor ask, make one radio announcement calling for a mandatory evacuation. as katrina made landfall i listened to a battery powered radio. information i was getting was non-information essentially. the announcers were saying the same things, stay in your home, et cetera. after the storm passed through, radio announcers reporting horror stories from downtown including convention center and the superdome. people were also calling in with accounts of damage they had seen throughout the city. on monday, there was no real information about what the government was doing and i assumed the pumps were already working to pump water out of the city. on monday or tuesday i went to check on my mother, who was also living uptown. physically she was unharmed and hadn't needed to go to the attic or roof to escape the water.
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i'm a brother, i and my brother got her out with a raft. that point there was about ten feet of water in some areas and i was unable to return to my house. my brother took our mother to safety and i took a boat, left behind by fire rescue crews to my house. there was about six feet of water in my home, so i rescued my dog, returned to my mother's house. i was there for about a week until september 8th or so. at which point a rescue crew comprised of state and local police as well as armed military officers forced me to evacuate. they arrived in a truck and two tanks and confiscated my weapons. i didn't resist them and the officers weren't rough with me. as we were leaving my mother's house, the team came upon a group of teenage boys. the louisiana police officer told the teenagers they would have to evacuate. when the kids resisted, he and the military officers
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pulled guns on them. the officers then escorted the teenagers to their car and told them to leave. at first i felt it seemed excessive but looking back and considering all the stories about violence i understand why they did what they did. the rescue team took know the convention center, which at this point was mostly empty and from there i was immediately taken by helicopter to the airport. the airport was chaos with more soldiers there than evacuees. and we spent one night there. the next morning i was put on a delta 757 airplane, along with approximately 150 other evacuees. passengers weren't told where they were going until after the plane had taken off. some people were upset, most were just thankful to be leaving new orleans. they landed at dulles and were driven to the d.c. armory where people were outside cheering for us. the army was also chaotic, especially given the different backgrounds of all
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the evacuees. i saw people trying to buy drugs and knew not to leave my personal items lying around because they would be stolen. i didn't fear for my safety, however, because there were so many armed guards. even though the armory was unorganized, there was a lot of presence by groups like the american red cross, fema, at this point fema was already under scrutiny, strong families, hud, u.s. postal service, et cetera. the department of state was also there offering some evacuees jobs that would last for 120 days. i stayed at the armory for about a month until the beginning of october. i'm now living in southwest d.c., currently looking for a job with the federal government. my family has been spread out to such states as colorado, texas, alabama, north carolina. my ex-wife is hoping to return to new orleans, her house is in algiers, had minimal damage. thank you.
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>> thank you very much. ms. kieler. >> hello. my name is doreene kieler, my home is located at 5020 legions field avenue in new orleans. on saturday morning, august 28th, after watching news and weather reports the day, during the day, that day and during the week i decided to evacuate because of hurricane katrina. i contacted my in-laws, three senior citizens over 70 who refused to leave. my daughter and i prepared by disconnecting electrical items, placing treasured items on table tops, high shelves and adding to regular hurricane provisions. i went to my office to back up my computer and disconnect electrical equipment while my daughter went to the atm, got gas, started evacuation plan and the route. we convinced family to leave, packed the cars and headed east. this was 5:00 a.m. august 29. we listened to local news
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reports for as long as we had reception. local weathermen told viewers to leave, the mayor stressed leaving, but we were all well out of a louisiana by then. several hours later national news media reported that mayor nagin called for mandatory evacuation. i was surprised and frightened. we traveled to efbs georgia, arriving at 10:00 p.m. approximately 17 hours later. two days later the levee broke and water took away our house, car, my job and my daughter's school. when it became clear our lives had permanently changed i remained in georgia for one and a half weeks making sure inlaws were settled with their children and went to my family in texas. my goal in texas was to get my daughter settled back in college and seek assistance and services. the state university welcomed back but services in texas were poor. at the center, the red cross gave us a voucher for 100 for clothing for the two of us. the person taking information for fema stated that she was only a
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typewriter and couldn't answer questions. fema representatives were busy solving computer problems. we were there for six hours with no answers. the next day we went to the austin convention septemberer to speak to someone about assistance but were not allowed in because we did not reside in the shelter and we were not brought there directly from new orleans. after our time in texas we went to florida so that my daughter could get settled in school. four hotels wouldn't accept fema number as payment not sure she would be reimbursed. we settled at an on hotel for 65 a night at our expense. after talking with friends i went to the red cross in tall has sir, we were given 600 and voucher to stay near in a hotel near fsu. i stayed there for two more days before i returned to texas. this stay for for three days, accepted an invitation from friends to stay in arkansas, while i remained until two weeks ago when i returned to new orleans. a couple of key points i want to make. first, the citizens of new
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orleans have endured hurricanes forever. it is very difficult to convince senior citizens, especially native new orleanians to leavef an and torrey evacuation called earlier, would have made it easier to move seniors out of the area, many lives would have been saved. took me almost 24 hours to get my in-laws to leave. others tell the same story. the severity of the storm was not stress you by officials. the officials told new orleans citizen of the potential destruction of katrina i would have done more to secure my belongings. i had the remote, known the remote possibility of water rising above two feet i would have placed belongings on the second floor of my home, taken pictures and mementos with me. instead i unplugged electrical equipment, place it items on shelves and tables as i had always done. that did not save them from 10.2 feet of water. no continuity of services or information among the organizations. red cross services varied from state to state.
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i relied on information from friends on what services i could get. i then had to go the red cross several times, in several locations seeking assistance. this took days and only received assistance and useful information from florida. while i was out of new orleans, the only sources i had to rely on for information it was internet and national media. national media broadcast stories and homes covered in water, alleged violence, smiling politicians visiting shelters. no information given on how to a play for services, what was going on in specific areas, instructions from elected officials. accessing local media through the internet the only way to obtain nonsensizationalized information on local questions. no branch of government was prepared for this disaster. they started with complete confusion and migrated to finger pointing, pointing fingers at each other when citizens of new orleans are scattered across the nation. the mayor is saying all of new orleans would be rebuilt while the corps of engineers saying that may not be
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possible in all areas. governor is saying help is coming to the area, but also saying that the federal government is not releasing funds. fema is saying they will put trailors properties, thousands, myself included are still waiting. i'm also wondering what will happen if and when i do get a trailer. we are six months away from the next hurricane season and national weather service predicts that season 2006 will be as active as season 2005. unless this is come compotioned super strong bricks or flotation devices i'm looking at another disaster. finally, when the levee broke, my daughter and i lost everything. we lost our home, car, job, her school, very precious memories. fortunately for her, her old school welcomed her back and kind strangers gave us sof sofa to sleepo i thought within this semester i could have help and i could have answers. no such luck. christmas break is coming and i don't know what to tell her. i don't know if she should come back to new orleans
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because i may have to leave the place that i'm living at right now at the end of the month. she can stay with family and friends we will make do like we did for thanksgiving, but i have to have answers about next semester. there's no job and there's no way to pay for housing, books, tuition or living expenses. what is worse, she is a 4.0 student, grades are suffering because she is worried. this isn't fair. if we can get answers to basic questions like where we can get shelter, food, medical care, at least present a positive element in this entire situation. we could have a start. for now, we are in the same position we were in three months ago. we need answers, we need help. thank you for your attention. >> thank you very much. thanks for being with us. >> can you hear me? okay, good. my name is patricia thompson, i live in central city, i'm a life-long resident of new orleans and my address was
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2310, apartment c i was i was doing part-time work with the 6th gap thift baptist churn when we first heard about the hurricane, we did what we always do, we got candles, bottled water, caned goods but nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to encounter. the mandatory evacuation came less than 24 hours before the hurricane, before it made landfall. the lights went out long before the hurricane hit and the water rose two days later. the first thing i did was to gather extended family because i live on higher ground. my children are all grown and only my 20-year-old still resides at home. i told my other children and their families to come to my house. i thank god i did because my first and second daughters lost all of their possessions and they would have lost their lives as
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well when we went back to new orbls the line where the water stopped was like right around my head. both these daughters have young children that cannot swim. so i was invited to leave new orleans before the hurricane but like a mother, i was not leaving my children, even though they're grown, i was not leaving them. and i'm so glad i didn't. in these, in the two locations where these two daughters lived had they tried to swim out of their houses, the water only got deeper. i would have lost two children and six grandchildren, okay? so like i say, i'm glad that they didn't remain in the houses. we were abandoned. city officials did nothing to protect us. we were told to go to the superdome, convention zrp, interstate bridge for safety. we did this more than once. in fact, we tried them all
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every day for over a week, we saw buses, helicopters, fema trucks but no one stopped to help us, we never felt so cut off in our lives. when you feel like this you do one of two things. you either give up or go in to survival mode. we chose the latter. this is how we made it. we slept next to dead bodies, we slept on streets at least four times next to human fees sees and urine. there was garbage everywhere in the city, in the city, panic and fear had taken over. the way we were treated by police was demoralizing and inhuman. we were cursed when we asked for help for our elderly, we had guns aimed at us by the police who were supposed to be there to protect and serve. they made everybody sit on the ground with their hands in the air, even babies. the children were confused and frightened and terrified and they were not, i mean excuse me, they were terrified and they were not
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placing their hands in the air correctly. my five-year-old granddaughter cried and asked her mama if she was doing it right. i know the police were scared, but they had no right to treat everyone like criminals. being from new orleans i know the police are quick to kill, because they have done it so knee times, nothing is never done about it. you know, we live this on a daily basis, okay? they can and have gotten away with criminal acts. i live across the street from a police substation, a lot of crimes blamed on citizens were actually committed i police and other city officials. i watch the police go in to the substation with all kind of stolen goods, i watch the police and theesque laids, i watch the police do a lot that we got blamed for. i was living at the time in a three bedroom apartment and thank god for that because even though i have
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six children and 11 grandchildren, the amount of people that was in my house during the storm was 22 because i could not refuse anybody of shelter, okay? we were packed in like sardines. during this time my 22-year-old daughter had a three-month old baby, this child cried constantly because she was uncomfortable, she can't stand being hot. i had a pregnant 22-year-old that is in labor as i speak, you know, i'm praying for her and her baby, okay? i am the grandmother of 11 children, to watch my grandchildren walking and falling in the filth was too much to take, okay? i am now living in college station, texas where i have started a new life. the most wonderful place on earth as far as i'm concerned. i'm not going back to new orleans at least not now. however, we won't be missed
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because we're not wanted there anyway. i know this and everyone above the age of 18 should know it. believe me, our problems didn't start with katrina. katrina was more of a blessing than anything because she gave us the opportunity to get out. last thursday i went back to new orleans to see what could be in sad i was shocked to see how people were living and being treated in fact i have a list of names and numbers that i'm willing to give to anybody in here who is interested. they're not getting the resources, or the services that we are, okay? and i really think somebody should check in to it. when i was in new orleans at one, on one of the jobs, i was a career development specialist, i was used to sending people out to go to work, used to giving, telling people, helping people get bills paid. when i got to my house to new orleans 4:30 thursday morning i was locked out. before the day was over, my 20-year-old was locked up. you understand?
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never been to jail a day in her life. she tried explaining to the police what was going on, they locked her up anyway. because you know, one thing we know about new orleans, it's a money city, you know? they wouldn't care if had you something to eat a place to stay, just give me your money, okay? and so like i said, when i got, there my locks was changed, i've had other family members to go home, find eviction notice, other folk to come home and their stuff is on the street. those people have to pay back rent for when the storm hit for houses that they weren't even in. i think it's really sad, okay? i have, i have personally, nobody cares about each other in new orleans. okay. i think the politicians in new orleans first must stop
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stealing and robbing the city because that's definitely what's going on. and in order to rebuild new orleans i think every elected official should be replaced starting with the president. fema and homeland security failed us. we did not get quality information in a timely manner, we were just a city destroyed and we were left to twist in the twilight zone. no one cared except those around us in the same situation. we had to depend on each other. my decision was difficult, but i had to leave my home of 53 years and my grandchildren had to go too. i have six children and that is six households that had to leave new orleans. we returned to new orleans and i thought we would maybe get the idea to stay. but that didn't happen. nothing happened to change our mind. like i said when i arrived at 4:30, i was locked out and by 7:30 that night my daughter was locked up. we explained, what we were
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doing but like always, the police didn't listen. you know, i had to leave my daughter in jail in new orleans. i had to leave her in jail. because i had to return the u.s.-haul truck and i just secured a job in texas and i don't want to lose that. i love my city, you know, i feel my presence and the presence of my family and the existence of my culture has made new orleans a loving, exciting and educational place to learn and joy and grow. it's hurting to realize we have such a rich culture taken away us from. i see no future for the city and no one is giving us hope. the saddest part is that the children of new orleans and this nation will never know the richness of a area that was built on love and caring. thank you for your time. >> thank you, thank you very much. ms. hodges. thank you for being with us.
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>> first of all, i would like to thank the committee and congresswoman cynthia, my mother's second to baby sister's name is cynthia and i feel so close to you already, thank you all. first of all, i would like to offer condolences to the approximately 10,000 people who lost family members in what certainly appears to me to be a mass act, an account of genocide and an ethnic cleansing, i would like to cover condolences to ms. gen dough lynn steward and her family who on december 10th will be burying four of their family members who drowned, a sister, her sister and her three nieces who drowned as a result of the city of new orleans
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being abandoned by our very own government from the very highest level t very lowest. i would also like to appeal to my brother carl hodges, who is still missing. if you are out there and if are within the sound of my voice, if anybody knows where my brought is, please contact the red cross. we love you, we miss you and we are so worried about you. anyway, i'm chair of a committee called cause way concentration camp. cause way concentration camp arose directly from the harsh military treatment and detention fascist style under the i-10 in jefferson parish at the cause way exit. i came from a family of
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musicians, civil rights workers and human rights workers. before katrina we were planning a musical family reunion. i had taken time off from pursuing a law degree to care for my sick grand dad. i was also in the process of working with community leaders on setting up music and art workshops for youth to provide meaningful activities after school. the manual i was writing for the workshop was severely damaged in the flood. by the grace of god i managed to get out a portion of the outline so i can do it again. i have also started a new project, which is about my experience as a detainee at the interstate 10 highway at the causeway exit. to begin with, a few general points. the failures of the
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president of the united states, the governor of louisiana, kathleen blanco and the mayor of new orleans, nagin need not be pointed out as they have already accepted responsibility for their roles in abandoning their very own citizens, their constituencies, the people who elected them and pay taxes to pay their salaries to protect us, they abandoned us. the people of new orleans were stranded in a flood and were allowed to die. what happened to us was foreseeable and it was preventable. the military personnel was stationed just 40 miles outside the city. they could have moved in and gotten people out sooner. people were allowed to die. people did not need to die. our military has the capability. i have seen the military
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prepare and ride out for desert storm, for ours and hours, a good four hours every massive vehicle imaginable passed over. particularly in the 9th ward area where so many, an a a majority of the people died, there is what was once called the port of embark indication, they have massive ships. they have military hospital, america has military hospitals and medical personnel. they should have moved in and moved people out first. they should not have allowed the worst of the worst to happen and new orleans was basically turned in to a mass grave and then tried to move in and clean up the aftermath. there was so many people who were murdered by the military and the police for trying to survive labeled as criminals. and were murdered and i saw on cnn where the politicians
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said that would not count all of the bodies. they would not count the bodies who were murdered by police and military personnel. well, they should count the bodies. these bodies, a lots of them voted, their families voted, they paid taxes. they are human beings, they deserve to be counted. i mean if we don't count all these bodies and what are we talking, a mass grave somewhere? a mass burning somewhere? these bodies should be accounted for. in my neighborhood in the water area, one of the first areas where i heard floating bodies, where i tutored and mentored young people. where we had barbecues and we got along like families, we looked after each other on a daily basis. a lot of my neighbors are unaccounted for, a lot of my neighbors are dechld i saw the first living person in my neighborhood roughly about a month ago. but i want to speak a little more in detail about the concentration camp situations, the military,
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after having told thaws there was nothing they could do for us, and the local police and there was no help for us over the radio we heard that they had designated so-called evacuation points. my brother and my nieces niece's fiancee set out to find evacuation points and they stayed gone a very long time and we were very worried about them. when they returned they said that had been detained on the gretna bridge and they had been turned around and were not allowed to pass through that area in order to locate evacuation camps. evacuation points. our situation was one such that we became aware of some senior citizens who had been abandoned in a brand new federally funded facility. a lot of them had life- threatening illnesses. they had been without medication for days.
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we shared our provisions with them that they had gotten together for the storm. once the police began to tell thaws there was no help for us and our provisions ran low, i took some bricks that had been blown down from a building across the street from a grocery store and i poured some color rocks on them and cleaned them up and fashioned a stove and some people from the community brought some food that was still good from their freezers and i moved some of the tables from indoors because the building was still continue tam contaminated with flood water answer i bleached the tables and set up a hand washing and dish washing station, washed food, took very long to do because it was just like living off the land basically. and we got it all done. we cooked and we fed people. and encouraged people and we flagged down police and asked for help and told them we had people with life threatening illnesses, we
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had one man who was an amputee. they insulted us when they weren't telling us they had no help for us, they couldn't help us, they insult us and told us that they should have gotten out. i told my baby brother when we located a friend who still had gas and she said that we could cook dinner, you know, for teld letter i because we were trying to at least feed them and keep them alive until we can get help. so i instructed my baby brother, steven hodges to flag down any official vehicle that you see and let them know that we need medicine, we have sick people and we are afraid the lose these people to die. my brother flagged down a police car and asked for help. they used racial slurs and dirty obscenity, they cursed him and threatened to blow his brains out and when he turned around to walk away he said one police officers said i started to blow that nigger's brains out and the other one said you should have. my brother walked away and
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he said, i said look, we just going to have to get out of here. the director for this boyd manor in algiers came in the day before the storm, told the senior citizens to get out, then she took the keys to their brand new state of the art bus and abandoned them. so we took it upon ourselves to care for them because that was the only care that they could get at the time. so in the meantime, my brothers got back and we eventually had to command dear a van, try to get somebody to rig it so we could get started and get the sick to the so-called evacuation points. and among us was a pregnant woman with two small children. we bought to the evacuation points and you know, the military, they, you know, they were kind of nice to us at first, though we were wondering why all the m-16s, looked like we just stepped in to a war. why all the guns? we didn't see any first aid kits. all we saw was water and
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guns. now, the u.s. coast guard search and rescue team were frustrated, they were furious, said they cannot want to stand around holding guns on people, they were ordered to stand and hold guns on see vac wees when they wanted to be rescuing people from drownings and plucking people up out of the contaminated water and from rooftops, yet they were ordered to stand there and hold war weapons, weapons that had the capability of mass destruction, the weapons that they had upon them was capable of killing a lot of people at close range. so anyway, they told us that they would take to us shelters where we could get help and get the seniors to help. and they loaded us up on these military trucks, then they declared the city of new orleans, orleans parish and jefferson parish a war zone and it still didn't sink in that we were the surprise conners of war.
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once we got to this place, the people who said this guy from the u.s. coast guard, his name was louis, they plucked him off from a coast guard ship off the coast of venezuela and brought him in to help without because eaves search and rescue specialist. when they brought to us this wide open outdoor space on the highway, on the highway. and they said that buss would come in and that they would get out the sick and the elderly and special needs people first. and louis, i saw he moved out some groups of people in wheelchairs and sick people and said he would move our group out next because we had people who were critically ill. he said he would position his car directly across the highway from us and leave on the lights so that we could see him in the event that any among us needed anything before he could move us out. well, i saw a vehicle across the highway from us but the lights never came on, we never saw him again, the one person who was there to
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actually help people, he just vanished, we never saw him again. the next morning all we saw was what appeared to be a bunch of hardened read neck scowling and growling at us in military uniforms, just hostile, full of hatred and pointing guns at us and treating us worse than prisoners of war. over 100 degree, in over 100 degree temperatures we were forced to stand out in that hot sun with 100% humidity, we exposed to skin cancer, we were tortured with sleep deprivation, they created a garbage dump and made us live on it and sleep on it and flew helicopters over our heads and blew the garre gej, the muck and the toxic meyer back in to our faces. we left body bags behind. we had to fake a labor on a pregnant woman to get them to move her and her two children out. the elderly, the amputee for a whole day and a whole
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night they refused to give us food and water for people who could not fend for themselves. myself, my family and other people, we had been circulating through camp trying to see about people, you know, who couldn't get up and fends for themselves. and as of the night that we got out of there, they still refused to give food and water to us to see that people got it who needed it and they would not feed people and they pushed us away with guns and told us not to come back asking anymore. i have been told to wrap it up. this is not a situation that i can describe in five or ten minutes and i don't want to overextend my time, but i will answer questions, but i say this: we have been exposed to genocide by ethnic cleansing, the rights of our children have been violated, women's rights against discrimination have been violated, our economic, social and cultural rights have been violated, our human rights have been violated, our rights against
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torture have been violated, our rights as prisoners of war within the scope of the geneva have been violated, mike grant workers rights violated, both express and implied arise directly from the failure of the united states government to eliminate an apart tied practices and other forms of oppressive practice against poor and working poor citizens of the united states who are mostly african-american or otherwise people of color. these violations are historical and continuing. this is a formal request that this situation being blamed on the hurricane be further investigated. this should never have happened anyplace, especially in america. and certainly should never happen again. some people are shocked to hear me say concentration camp, but if you have ever seen any footage of the
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hitler concentration camps in world war ii, i assure you that is what happened to us at the very lowest level, all the way up to the level of some people dying and pregnant women losing babies. thank you. gumbo variety of ingredients to make good gumbo east bank west bank uptown downtown lakeside riverside, men, women, old, rich, poor,
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protestant catholic, orthodox jews muslims, hindu, straight, gay, oh, my goodness. would you please accept this. the second gift is from saints augustine catholic church the oldest. bill that enslaved people in the city, with love and respect, you take this. i didn't go anywhere. why? because i didn't have to. i live in america. i'm free. does that sound strange to anybody in 2005? i hope not. hurricane even had it named after me, i'm 60. s-x-x-t-y. years old. -- >>, i've lived through, i
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guess at this point, thousands of hurricanes. why are we so excited about hurricane? katrina didn't do this. let's get very, very clear. katrina didn't do this. the islams of america -- the isms, that we got to get rid of including ism, i-s-m, almost like xat end of "prescriptions" means poison we need more monday where is the place around the corner please somebody order up some more paper with ink on it put the nominations on it is this really going to be about this? as i was told i was coming
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here the neighbors started comeing by with their comments. and they want some answers, how you doing? god bless your heart for being here. because i was looking for you -- where the rest of them don't they know we still with our all basic services, would you let them know that for me, please. i said -- saw what they did to you so it could try to attempt to complete this genocide. where i live -- but i live in america. my neighbors want to know where the children are. what insane group of people separated parents from their children? my neighbors want to know where their children are, somebody find out. oh, and our whole community want to know where's our deceased we know they are dead. -- we downtown just to
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chance this year y'all, 15-year-old first man you all probably saw on television accusing -- accuse of looting looking for his 15-year-old son's body, or teghamilton, coleman, please find him so are susso we can have some closure. we need that. then the whole want to know where our rights as americans all these folk coming to fix us, why is some parts of new orleans decorated till christmas some of us don't have nothing to decorate? we want an answer. why is it taking in excess of i think day before yesterday, excess of 90 days for us to get basic utilities, lights not gas, not telephone, not mail service, you know this morning, oh somebody is cbs here?
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how is gag-- gabe please find out for me my mind won't get clear. we want to know why can't we go to sin mi and to new york and get things straight? for all these other folk we know you all go check us out we go everywhere we got hearts of gold we give, give, give what i'm confused about hour people in new orleans not sharing with party of new orleans i think newcomers going to have to understand spirit of new orleans. they want to know how is it that we creating some agency, that can buy our land, because it ain't good enough but they can do something to it and make it good enough
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to sell back to us. what kind insanity that is i own it? almost sound like christopher columbus i own it but i got sell it to somebody at slave wages, my grandma says she made 50 cents a day y'all. and she brought the house bought the house i live in my last breath, my last breath five generations, it will take that it is not for sale. please let whoever these people are know new orleans is not for sale. they ain't going inwhere roaches block folk tried to exterminate we still there we plan to be there. whatever it takes, tent city no city sleeping in cars, whatever we got to do, and let me share this at this point. my home without telephone, e-mail, children gave me one of those crazy phones i don't know what to do with, without any of that, my home because of the spirit it
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brings was visited by six continents that came on boats. i wish i had the magazines with me. the one that looks liketime with sister walking down main street with baby on her back the world is looking at us, we are okay understand how less than 500,000 people who dis-- be displaced for over a hundred days at this point, and we can't fix that in america? and we going to fix somebody else? we are really confuseed in new orleans, help us out. we really don't -- don't start -- we are not going to give up our property. please don't. it is going to take murdering me and my family to achieve that. i'd like to congress to know that. then we want to know who live in new orleans who put our disaster plan together. i'm 8 years sanitation five years department traings i
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saw -- i i don't want to say all words and with guns, who come rescue with guns? no life vests, no supplies, nothing to help handicapped. how do i know i didn't go anywhere. we didn't leave. there are a group of men i'm so proud of them god bless the soul patrol we had to get a name i went to chief police asked for a green card give us something. why is it mandatory that we leave? i went to dillard argentine went onp -- there was cuba i went a little further there was mexico, i went where they were feeding there was denmark, and i live in new orleans. 60 years in new orleans and i have to buy obey gunpoint lead i was ready to die if that's what it took, that's not america. who are these people who did they bring even jews in our community -- militia to protect them didn't needed protection when carrying fabric on shoulders in my neighborhood selling fabric
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to my grandma before they got in their gated community when did we get afraid of new orleans new orleans not number one only because we are dominated by africans, is the number one city in america that people want to visit. go check the records. our bad tourism -- paraphernalia because it is awful, what do you all like about new orleans when you come? what do youall like about new orleans when you come? it is our spirit and it's real. it's the people. if you are on street corner with us you are having fun, we treating you with love respect like till people just -- just don't need a straitjacket we are will house you. new orleans is that kind of a city. what did we are doing here? one of the problems, is that mr. trump came months ago and decided he wants -- a
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street princes charles on street telling me i need a -- i'm going to check on my little independent living mentally ill community why is prince charles trying to buy a house in new orleans that say don't need to exist somebody needs to explain these things to us, you know. it is not making sense. it is really not making sense. why were we held hostage? i didn't go anywhere. why were we held hostage and not allowed to rescue our people? we have proof of it. why was that the case? you know what -- i'm from the 60s call the police i'm going to stop talk when i finish with my messages from my community that is the only reason why i'm here i didn't come to represent me. i didn't come representing
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dyan french cole i came representing the people sit song the street right now around a brick made fireplace because that's the only thing we have in december, hurricane happened in august! somebody needs to hear. why we are less than 500,000 people spread over 50 states is a question one of my neighbors wants to know. if fema had given every registered person on census a million dollars according to what they say they have spent, they still have a half a billion put on five to spend if they had given all of us a million dollars, why are they out of money come look at my neighborhood. some of these people have been there tell them to show you the film, fema didn't do that. the red cross didn't do that. the citizens of new orleans did that.
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only one elect if i hadshal has bothered to pass by, ooh, and don't get me wrong. by grace of -- my god, they have been people from all over the world who have come and shown great love. i have little blonde blueied brunette, grayied all chored children at my house right now i know what they take the act where of mama d. because they work hard from sun superto sundown every day because we have a mission, and that is the to return our people back to their rightful space we not trying to do a christopher columbus not a trying to go somewhere and take somebody else's stuff, why would you get in the public media and ask a city where 80% of its citizens ride public transit, to evacuate? what were they supposed to do fly? get on a broom? after you allow buses to sit in the water areas that is one thing five years
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transportation would have told me i wasn't at the tub, you move all of the equipment you transportation out of harm's way you know, the president declares two days in advance, that it is coming, you don't move any of the equipment? who's fooling who? i blame mr. bush for all this -- he caught caught up poor baby caught up a couple times watching him telling louisiana folk, oh, and i'd like to publicly think general -- because media lied. and 82nd airborne we call them i got the note with me red wrinkle caps, only ones didn't pull guns. call us filthy names. shoot us. or try to do harm. they brought peace and smiles, and love with them. i applaud those children. we've just a few more i will be gone why did fcc, allow the media to consolidate and
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we only heard one version of everything in new orleans? what was that about? that was so sick, mayor, a few more folk patting themselves on the back while we were sitting in six feet of water. we couldn't -- confused. what happened there? and then just a series of oppression, take the schools, move the hospitals, don't put services back. don't permit people to come back because of fair housing act say you can't discrime nate how the hell do you discriminate if it was my house when i left ought to be my house when i come back how you put somebody else there when you know some form or fashion why is public housing in the city of new orleans? that is quiet why is public housing which is dry never been touched by anything. and doesn't have any problems first of all, why were those people surrounded in forced to leave by gunpoint?
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that happened. facilities now? they are dry. they don't have any problems. what is press ever call -- joe zarnes and them up to i call names i worked five administration is my first one being moon land ruse my last onray nathan some too thil the to stay in some in between i stayed whole duration my minute making to you now we don't need another 50, 60, 70s, because you know what, somebody been sleeping. our police got to loaded they wrote fort apache, go see the media got it across the first district station. they took extra guns. they shaved their heads. we need those answers because these are the people these are the people who kept asking 60-year-old gray
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haired people like myself where's the guns and the dope? we want to ask them how do they keep coming in our neighborhoods we not bringing it. there's a lot needs to be done, if we going to cleanse. we want to know why. why is this possible? that all of these things all of a sudden eliminating -- sister that is why i i gave you the fan, attempted to eliminate the oldest african catholic church i'm not catholic y'all, father oh, wonderful gorgeous spirit that i love, and he is a brother that i will always cherish, he is a pillar, institution is a pillar, look like those things that were will support us the things that people are attempting to eliminate. you know well-kept secret we don't mind, i will be finished in a second. a well sent secret if you start at waveland let's get to the big picture wave land mississippi come around 90, into new orleans.
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is bigger than vegas. we understand that. -- the poor white people live will not be the next like the hilton head over there in carolina, they need to stop this, because you got a dollar doesn't mean you ought to -- ought to be able to displace poor working class people don't mind being poor if everybody leave them alone those people were fishermen control fishing industry in louisiana now not even controlled, they don't even have that. these are poor white people. we all suffering the same fate. in a new orleans area. i don't know which you all want to know i want to say this to you, i live on -- streit -- i can't tell the story, come see, i'm not there, now, but there about 14, young beautiful brave all ethnicity children at my home. most of the black children are just being released you
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know if you go visit your grandmother in public housing new orleans you go to jail for trespassing. >> sure do. >> some of my children are returning because they were trying to check on elders gaterested for trespassing go see how many charges we have had like that, since pre, post katrina. and they are coming home they don't know where their parents are. they don't know where their families are all of these people are living in and about the vicinity of my house. because good people that volunteered to let us use facilities we have cleaned them, we've gotten them prepared we have clothing, someone passed said you feeding the red cross and billy graham i said long as they come with the right spirit and the right heart. and that's correct, thanksgiving day we did that. people just gave us we asked for, 10 turkeys we got 40. all those, cooked we gave didn't cook we gave away one last thing i promise this the last thing i was crying this morning, when cbs showed up at my hotel.
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and they said what's the matter mama d. i said i don't work -- ab mike's nerves michael behind you all i said ladies with him i know very well respect and love, but they have had the opportunity to take hot baths. they have had that -- had the opportunity to get new clothing. they have had the opportunity interact with more than just people who come to your door. this is my second trip out of the city of new orleans. and i came because the ism that really bothered me the most is racism one they have grand daughter's head looked like this lady's head y'all be careful with racism. two of my grandsons, look like you and you, mr. , better be careful with racism, they love their grandma, they respect their black daddy, somebody better be kaefful about what we
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doing. majority of the volunteers because most of the african-american children have been forced out of new orleans, at my home, and i have had hundreds to come, since the first since we hit dry land are not african-american. they don't agree with the way we are being treated. they are good solid wonderful children, they take their wrag of wrama d, you know they got to be strong and solid because we have we have what we need in place, and if we can, because i don't writing them down, neighbors didn't write it down, my are a he era computer up here we didn't have nothing to put it in i beg you all you know right now the main thing we need because i didn't just come with questions, we came with solutions. we need y'all to take fema, fema mom and daddy, red cross, and


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