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"Paddling One's Own Canoe"

Big-time hauls being looted in St. Bernard Parish

From this November 12 story:

Saint Bernard Parish sheriff's officials say they have arrested about 50 people in some 20 cases of looting since Hurricane Katrina.
The parish is still closed to non-residents, but some people allowed in to work have apparently also take advantage of their access to commit burglaries and thefts.
Major John Doran, chief of detectives for the Sheriff's Office, says the department has made numerous arrests and detectives are assigned specifically to look for looters. Doran says it's difficult to keep track of all the people working at gutting homes and businesses.
He says several hundred thousand dollars worth of stolen property and cash has been recovered and some narcotics have been seized.

Looters left surprises behind in trendy stores; "liberals" explain

From this:

When she noticed the human waste on the floor of the trendy women's shoe boutique she manages, Lindsay Foret suspected looters had soiled the store out of spite.
"I was like, 'This is horrible. There's brand new bathrooms and they couldn't even go there?"' Foret said. "I went back to the bathrooms and they were perfectly fine."
As she spoke to fellow merchants along trendy Magazine Street, on the edge of the Garden District, Foret quickly learned she wasn't the only one who found such unseemly messes while trying to reopen a looted store.
Around the city, merchants returning after Hurricane Katrina who expected their worst problems to include storm damage or stolen merchandise have found numerous examples of vandalism, some of it vile, that apparently was meant to upset store owners.
"I can confirm some stores were vandalized -- and soiled, to some degree," city police Capt. Marlon Defillo said. He was not sure if it was widespread and said he could not comment on motives, but he suggested a lack of running water may have been a factor at times.
Sociologists say it may speak to the anger of a disenfranchised segment of the population and how -- at least during the chaos that ensued shortly after the storm -- they reveled in ruling certain places they may have previously perceived as snobby or out of reach.
"It is asserting a kind of power," Tulane sociology professor Martha K. Huggins said. "People who have their house broken into often say they feel violated, and defecating on the floor is the ultimate way to violate somebody...

Der Spiegel offers jazz, racism

That German rag offers Life After Katrina: America's New Jazz Museum! (No Poor Black People Allowed)
It contains this:

New Orleans trumpeter Irvin Mayfield... is incensed too at mainstream coverage of the storm's aftermath. "Looters? Anyone who grew up in New Orleans like I did knows that drugs run rampant here. How are you going to relocate those folks? Who do you think was shooting at planes?"

And, it also contains this:

"See, what Bush wants," said poet Amiri Baraka, after performing at a free jazz benefit in Manhattan's Lower East Side, "is to make New Orleans like his mother -- shriveled and colorless."

NOPD cops took Cadillacs from dealership?

At the very least, they deserve an award for boldness:

Acting New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said Thursday that as many as 40 officers from the department's 3rd District, including the commanding captain, are "under scrutiny" for possibly bolting the city in the clutch and heading to Baton Rouge in Cadillacs from a New Orleans dealership...
"It is a subject that is under review," Riley said, stopping short of saying he has launched a formal investigation. Asked if Capt. Donald Paisant, who replaced Capt. James Scott as the 3rd District commander, was a part of that review, Riley said, "Certainly the commander of that district is under scrutiny."
Last week, after reports surfaced that the Louisiana attorney general's office was investigating the alleged theft of about 200 cars from Sewell Cadillac Chevrolet, possibly by NOPD officers, Riley revealed his own internal investigations...
He acknowledged then that an unspecified number of officers were being looked at for their alleged involvement in the Sewell incident, which took place in the first four days after Katrina ripped through town.
Riley said he was surprised to learn that "at least 40" 3rd District officers were in Baton Rouge after the hurricane. Riley said that at some point after a number of 3rd District teams were rescued from the Louisiana State University Dental School he spoke to clumps of them at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Convention Center Boulevard...

UPDATE: There's more from the AP here. The dealership president says the cars might have been taken even before the hurricane hit town, and:

[Dealership prez Doug Stead] said the cars included 88 new Cadillacs and Chevrolets, 40 used cars, 52 customers' cars and a restored 1970 El Camino and 1966 Impala.
''We put the loss on new cars at $3.7 million,'' Stead said. ``The used cars ran another $900,000.''
When reports first surfaced last month that officers may have taken the cars, New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said it was not considered looting because the officers patrolled in the cars.
''There were some officers who did use Cadillacs,'' Riley said. "Those cars were not stolen.''
On Friday, police spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the department's only comment was that it was cooperating with the attorney general's investigation.
...Stead said he got a call Aug. 28 while evacuating the city, telling him one of the dealership's garage doors was open. The rest of his trip was spent fielding calls about his cars.
...Keys to the new and used cars were kept in a locked box on the second floor, Stead said. The box was taken on a forklift to the third floor, where a blowtorch was used to open it, he said. For cars without keys, the ignitions were jimmied, he said.

WAFB, CNN investigate NOPD looting ring

CNN appears to have usurped the scooping rights of WAFB in this case, so lets look at them first. In "Investigation Launched Concerning Looting by NOPD Officers" they describe how one of their reporters went to the Amerihost Inn and Suites and found out that some NOPD officiers had holed up on the 10th floor and went out each night to conduct looting missions. Their booty included shoes, weapons, and even a generator from Tulane.
They contacted a temporary police station, who said they'd take care of it. And, they never did.
Now, the NOPD is promising to investigate the matter, and four cops have already been suspended.
From CNN's coverage:

WARREN RILEY, ACTING NEW ORLEANS POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: First of all, the department is not dysfunctional. We have 1,400-plus officers that are on the street.

And, all of them are presumably real, not phantom cops.

GRIFFIN: Police admit, though, that the only reason they're doing these investigations is not because of the allegations but because of video showing misconduct or potential misconduct by these officers -- Paula.
ZAHN: So, Drew, now that the acting superintendent has confirmed that he's investigating these charges that you've been looking into for weeks, is there now a clear connection between that and the fact that his predecessor resigned?
GRIFFIN: At the news conference today, before any questions were asked, Paula, the police department said it would not answer any questions relating to Eddie Compass and his resignation just a few days ago as the chief of police. We have not been able to reach Mr. Compass now. And, again, the police officials here will not comment on why he stepped down.

See also "Witnesses: New Orleans cops took Rolex watches, jewelry" and "NOPD looking into looting by their officers".

NOPD looking into looting by their officers

The police department has launched an investigation into whether officers participated in the giant looting spree that overtook the city after Hurricane Katrina, a spokesman said Thursday.
News reports in the aftermath of the storm put officers at the scene of some of the heaviest looting, the Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District. Some witnesses -- including a Times-Picayune reporter -- said police were taking items from shelves.
"Out of 1,750 officers, we're looking into the possibility that maybe 12 officers were involved in misconduct," police spokesman Marlon Defillo said.
He rejected the use of the term "looting," but said authorities were investigating "the possibility of appropriation of non-essential items during the height of Katrina, from businesses."

For some evidence, see Martin Savage of MSNBC meets some looters: video

Naive NYT on looting, crime, NOPD, shots at rescue workers

The NYT joins the re-writing fray with "Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans".
Before reading that article, you might want to take a look at "FBI investigating NOPD corruption, phantom cops; $5k bonus" and "Mortician contradicts reports downplaying crime, Part 2". Both of those, er, "amplify" the NYT's reporting:

...It is still impossible to say if the city experienced a wave of murder because autopsies have been performed on slightly more than 10 percent of the 885 dead.
[On Wednesday, however, Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state's medical incident commander for Hurricane Katrina victims, said that only six or seven deaths appear to have been the result of homicides. He also said that people returning to homes in the damaged region have begun finding the bodies of relatives.
[Superintendent Compass, one of the few seemingly authoritative sources during the days after the storm, resigned Tuesday for reasons that remain unclear. His departure came just as he was coming under criticism from The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which had questioned many of his public accounts of extreme violence.]
In an interview last week with The New York Times, Superintendent Compass said that some of his most shocking statements turned out to be untrue. Asked about reports of rapes and murders, he said: "We have no official reports to document any murder. Not one official report of rape or sexual assault."
On Sept. 4, however, he was quoted in The Times about conditions at the convention center, saying: "The tourists are walking around there, and as soon as these individuals see them, they're being preyed upon. They are beating, they are raping them in the streets.
"Those comments, Superintendent Compass now says, were based on secondhand reports. The tourists "were walking with their suitcases, and they would have their clothes and things taken," he said last week. "No rapes that we can quantify."
...During six days when the Superdome was used as a shelter, the head of the New Orleans Police Department's sex crimes unit, Lt. David Benelli, said he and his officers lived inside the dome and ran down every rumor of rape or atrocity. In the end, they made two arrests for attempted sexual assault, and concluded that the other attacks had not happened.
"I think it was urban myth," said Lieutenant Benelli, who also heads the police union. "Any time you put 25,000 people under one roof, with no running water, no electricity and no information, stories get told."
...The Sixth District - like most of New Orleans, a checkerboard of wealth and poverty - was the scene of heavy looting, with much of the stealing confined to the lower-income neighborhoods. A particular target was a Wal-Mart store on Tchoupitoulas Street, bordering the city's elegant Garden District and built on the site of a housing project that had been torn down.
The looters told a reporter from The Times that they followed police officers into the store after they broke it open, and police commanders said their officers had been given permission to take what they needed from the store to survive. A reporter from The Times-Picayune said he saw police officers grabbing DVD's...
...The convention center, without water, air-conditioning, light or any authority figures, was recalled by many as a place of great suffering. Many heard rumors of crime, and saw sinister behavior, but few had firsthand knowledge of violence, which they often said they believed had taken place in another part of the half-mile-long center.
"I saw Coke machines being torn up - each and every one of them was busted on the second floor," said Percy McCormick, a security guard who spent four nights in the convention center and was interviewed in Austin, Tex.
Capt. Jeffrey Winn, the commander of the SWAT team, said its members rushed into the convention center to chase muzzle flashes from weapons to root out groups of men who had taken over some of the halls. No guns were recovered.
State officials have said that 10 people died at the Superdome and 24 died around the convention center - 4 inside and 20 nearby. While autopsies have not been completed, so far only one person appears to have died from gunshot wounds at each facility.
In another incident, Captain Winn and Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, the assistant SWAT commander, said they both shot and wounded a man brandishing a gun near people who had taken refuge on an Interstate highway. Captain Winn said the SWAT team also exchanged gunfire with looters on Tchoupitoulas Street...
... Cellphone repair workers had to abandon work after shots from the Fischer housing project in Algiers, Captain Winn said. His team swept the area three times. On one sweep, federal agents found an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle, Captain Winn said.
For military officials, who flew rescue missions around the city, the reports that people were shooting at helicopters turned out to be mistaken. "We investigated one incident and it turned out to have been shooting on the ground, not at the helicopter," said Maj. Mike Young of the Air Force...

Caviar at the Convention Center?

The 9/14 ABC report "Caviar and Camaraderie Found a Place Inside the New Orleans Convention Center" starts out like this:

The cultural spirit of New Orleans was experienced by some Hurricane Katrina survivors, who managed to dine on gourmet provisions and create a sense of community while waiting for help to reach the city's crowded convention center.

Where'd the caviar come from? Did people bound for the Convention Center take jars with them? Of course not: it and champagne were looted from hotels in the area.
The report goes on to detail the experiences of Brian Corey and his roommate Jeff Rusnack. They were going to ride out the storm at their apartment in the French Quarter but "given the dire security situation that surrounded them" they decided to get out of town. They found the bridges closed, then went to the CC. According to ABC they describe a more tranquil, cooperative scene than what you might have heard. They also say there was no media around to observe.
They describe how things were bartered for and how the gangs became the good guys (???) and passed out supplies to the needy. And:

But they didn't rest long. They're now in St. Louis preparing prints of their photos to be sold on eBay with proceeds going to hurricane relief, and are starting work on a book to detail their experiences and offer "a sense of what was lost."

Vin Suprynowicz: 'The institutionally indolent'

More letters about his original column have come in. Also see this. One of the latest letters contains this:

"The looters you saw on TV were criminals before Katrina. One would have to be a moron not to realize what happens when no fathers are around, and when kids grow up undisciplined and uncivilized. I recall the term 'Liberal Plantation' being used, and believe a book with that title was published some years ago ("It's OK to Leave the Plantation," Clarence Mason Weaver, 1998) and am convinced that the residents you talk about in your column, and the people I saw in the inner city of New Orleans, are, generally speaking, no different when it comes to their mental outlook, than the plantation slaves who waited for the 'Massa' to feed them and clothe them...
"We lived in the Garden District and heard machine gun fire nearly every night. I said back in the early 1990s that martial law should have been declared. If you lived in New Orleans and did not have a weapon to protect your family you were insane. The police were notoriously corrupt and incapable of protecting anyone or anything but their interests in the slot machines, which had just been approved at that time. We used to joke that the sound of a siren meant a slot machine had been disabled somewhere...


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