"The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse." -- James Madison - (1751-1836)

"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. " :
Ayn Rand in "The Nature of Government"

"Throughout history there have been tyrants and murderers. And for a while they seem invincible, but always they fall. Always."-Mahatma Gandhi

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings: Helen Keller

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is , more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime ; he is a good citizen driven to despair.--H.L Mencken

"When even one American-who has done nothing wrong-is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth-then all Americans are in peril" Harry S. Truman

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."- Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed: Ayn Rand - (1905-1982) Author - Source: Atlas Shrugged, Francisco's "Money Speech"

"Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn't stand on the doorstep with toothbrush moustache and swastika armband -- it creeps up insidiously...step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realizes that it is gone." ~ Baron Lane

U.S. Constitution - R.I.P.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Orleans: Locked Outside the Gates

In a remarkable symbol of the injustices of post-Katrina reconstruction, hundreds of people were locked out of a public New Orleans City Council meeting addressing demolition of 4,500 public housing apartments. Some were tasered, many pepper sprayed and a dozen arrested.

Outside the chambers, iron gates were chained and padlocked even before the scheduled start.

The scene looked like one of those countries on TV that is undergoing a people's revolution - and the similarities were only beginning.
(See video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMBWAXfGsc4)

Dozens of uniformed police secured the gates and other entrances. Only developers and those with special permission from council members were allowed in - the rest were kept locked outside the gates. Despite dozens of open seats in the council chambers, pleas to be allowed in were ignored.

Chants of "Housing is a human right!" and "Let us in!" thundered through the concrete breezeway.

Public housing residents came and spoke out despite an intense campaign of intimidation. Residents were warned by phone that if they publicly opposed the demolitions they would lose all housing assistance. Residents opposed to the demolition had simple demands. If the authorities insisted on spending hundreds of millions to tear down hundreds of structurally sound buildings containing 4,500 public housing subsidized apartments, there should be a guarantee that every resident could return to a similarly subsidized apartment. Alternatively, the government should use the hundreds of millions to repair the apartments so people could come home. Neither alternative was acceptable to HUD. A plan of residents to partner with the AFL-CIO Housing Trust to save their homes was also ignored.

Outside, SWAT team members and police in riot gear and on horses began to arrive as rain started falling. Those locked out included public housing residents, a professor from Southern University, graduate students, the Episcopal bishop of Louisiana, ministers, lawyers, law students, homeless people who lived in tents across the street from City Hall, affordable housing allies from across the country and dozens of others.

Inside the chambers, the Rev. Torin Sanders and others insisted that the locked out persons be allowed to come and stand inside along the walls - a common practice for over 30 years. No one could recall any city council locking people out of a public meeting. The request to allow people to stand was denied. The council then demanded silence from those inside. Those who continued to demand that the others be let in were pointed out by police, physically taken down and arrested. Ironically, some young men were tasered right in front of the speaker's podium.

This was a meeting the council had repeatedly tried to avoid. It was only held after residents (100 percent African-American and nearly all mothers and grandmothers) got an emergency court order stopping demolitions until the council acted. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced long ago it was going to demolish 4,500 public housing apartments despite the Katrina crisis of affordable housing, no matter what anyone said. HUD had no plans to ask the council or anyone else for approval. The judge said otherwise, so the meeting was scheduled.

Opponents cited the affordable housing crisis in New Orleans. Homeless people camped across from City Hall and for blocks under the interstate. The number of homeless people has doubled since Katrina. Thousands of residents in FEMA trailers across the Gulf Coast were being evicted.

The brutality that happened in this case was incredible to see, one woman with a cane shoved around by the thugs in uniform repeatedly, then pepper sprayed. She left by ambulance, as did several others. We pay these thugs....and I mean both the police involved and the city government people who ordered these attacks on tax-paying citizens....and we ALLOW our employees to abuse us this way? And, for simply trying to attend a PUBLIC meeting, at a TAX-PAYER OWNED building? What has become of this country? It is sickening.....astounding and sickening.

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The Militarization of Our Police