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These demolitions . . .are part of a plan to rebuild a New Orleans

that is smaller and whiter . . .They are part of a nationwide drive . . .

for Black people—poverty, prisons and punishment.

 

 

Destroying Homes for the Holidays in New Orleans

By Carl Dix

 

On December 12, government authorities began the planned demolition of four public housing developments in New Orleans. Bulldozers began rolling in the BW Cooper development. But this outrageous and heartless destruction of housing has been met with protest and resistance.
 
In September 2005, people around the world watched in horror at how the U.S. government abandoned tens of thousands of Black people in the flood waters after Katrina, subjected them to the most inhumane conditions, then callously evacuated them. Now, two years later, on December 14, headlines and photographs about New Orleans hit the national and international news again: The U.S. government heartlessly RAZING low-income housing people AND people RESISTING, going up against the bulldozers, determined to stop this crime. This had a big impact—the eyes of the world turned toward New Orleans once again. And as we go to press, a state court has halted the demolitions at three of the four developments, saying that the city council never voted to authorize the demolitions.
 
The city council could vote right away to put all of the demolitions back on track. And the court decision leaves one development, BW Cooper, facing demolition because it was slated for demolition before Hurricane Katrina.
 
If the authorities get away with their plans, four of the five remaining major public housing developments in the city will be demolished. More than 4,600 units will be reduced to rubble and replaced by “mixed income housing” which will have less than 800 affordable units.
These demolitions will destroy the neighborhoods that thousands of people called home. Many of the people who used to live in the sections of Cooper that are being demolished have been forced to move in with relatives or friends. Others have been forced to live on the streets. Now their homes are being destroyed.
 
It’s also clear that most of the people who used to live in public housing will be unable to afford to live in the new developments built to replace those being demolished. New Orleans has already been through this with the destruction of the St. Thomas development before Katrina. Fifteen hundred affordable units were lost in that demolition and only 150 affordable units were built in the River Gardens development that replaced St. Thomas.
 
The destruction of public housing is happening in cities across the country, and it’s an outrage. But it’s even MORE outrageous that this is going down in New Orleans. It was criminal enough what this system did to people right after Hurricane Katrina. But the system’s criminal and massive abuse has continued up to the present day. Black communities like the 9th Ward remain especially neglected. Two hundred thousand people who used to live here remain exiled across the country since Katrina. One hundred fifty thousand of these people are Black. Destroying public housing will mean many people will never be able to return. On top of this, thousands of New Orleans residents living in FEMA emergency trailers here and in cities across the country will be evicted over the next six months. Where are they going to find housing? What about the large and growing homeless population in New Orleans? Officials say 12,000 people live on the streets in New Orleans, double the official count before Katrina. Many people say there are thousands more homeless here. These demolitions will only make that number grow.
 
Resistance Builds
 
These demolitions must be brought to a halt. They are part of a plan to rebuild a New Orleans that is smaller and whiter with much of its Black population driven out of the city. They are part of a nationwide drive to destroy public housing and part of the Bush regime’s program for Black people—poverty, prisons and punishment. New Orleans itself has become a national and international symbol—people point to what happened after Hurricane Katrina as a blatant and concentrated example of the living legacy of slavery and how the U.S. capitalist system continues to oppress Black people. And whether or not people fight back and resist these outrageous demolitions holds special significance to people around the world. This underscores the larger importance of and stakes in this struggle. And the rulers of the U.S. also know the national and international impact of what happens in New Orleans and must put this in their calculations over what to do.
 
The authorities are very determined to go ahead with these evictions. Residents and former residents of public housing have been threatened with being kicked out of public housing forever or losing their housing vouchers if they speak out against the demolitions. Alphonso Jackson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), warned city officials that HUD will revoke $137 million in federal assistance and that 900 former public housing residents living in different parts of the country will be stripped of their housing vouchers if the demolitions are halted.
 
Resistance has begun to grow. A hundred people packed into a city hall office to demand that the demolitions be halted on Monday, December 10. On December 12, 50 people formed a human wall to block a bulldozer from entering BW Cooper, the first development they began to take down. The bulldozer was moved in overnight. The next day people who had occupied one of the buildings unfurled a banner protesting the demolition as the bulldozer demolished another building. After a several hour stand off, the protesters were arrested by cops and charged with trespassing.
 
Earlier that day, more than 100 people marched to the New Orleans HUD office to demand a stop to the demolitions. And other protest actions were held at two other developments slated for demolition. This resistance has been mounted by public housing residents, dozens of volunteers who came to New Orleans to help stop the demolitions, and a growing array of supporters.
 
Many people in New Orleans have been electrified by this resistance. They see that the demolitions are bad for poor people and especially for Black people. Some say they feel this is aimed at driving Black people out of New Orleans. People remember how after Katrina, ten-term Congressman from Baton Rouge Richard Baker said, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it. But God did.”
 
At the same time, many people have sharp questions. Some say the projects were breeding grounds for poverty and crime and that it’s better to get rid of them and build something new. Others raise that losing public housing’s low rent and utility bills would motivate people to get jobs and better themselves.
 
These views echo what the authorities say to justify getting rid of public housing, and they mistake cause for effect. Many public housing residents work, but at low paying, dead end jobs.  Many others can’t find work.  The capitalist system is responsible for this.  It sucked the jobs out of Black and other oppressed neighborhoods in New Orleans and across the country.  It offers millions of Black youth with futures of low paying dead-end jobs, if they can find any jobs.  It has criminalized many of these youth and warehouses hundreds of thousands of them in prisons. Getting rid of public housing isn’t going to ease this situation. In fact, it will only intensify it.
And beyond the immediate repercussions of the destruction of public housing in New Orleans, there is the larger impact and significance of whether or not there is resistance to such an assault on poor people in New Orleans.
 
All this underscores the need to fight these demolitions, not go along with them. And it underscores the need to build this fight as part of getting ready for revolution. The poverty and crime that people want to escape is caused by capitalism.  It’ll take nothing short of revolution to deal with this and the exploitation and oppression that capitalism enforces on the world.
 
Building public housing doesn’t fit into the plans to profitably rebuild New Orleans. And a basic absurdity of free market capitalism is on display with the destruction of public housing here. There are thousands of people in this city with no jobs who could be trained and put to work. There are thousands of people in this city living on the street who need homes. There are people from all over the country and world who could be mobilized to volunteer their skills and abilities to help rebuild this city. But this SYSTEM, where profit determines what is and isn’t done, STANDS IN THE WAY of bringing all these different factors together to provide decent housing.
 
A revolutionary society, one where power was in the hands of the people, could deal with the need for affordable housing completely different than this setup. People who needed work could be unleashed to build the housing so many needed. In the face of a natural disaster like Katrina, a revolutionary society wouldn’t leave people to die and then seize on it as an opportunity to drive the masses out of town and not allow them to come back like this system did. The enthusiasm and energy of the people could be tapped into and unleashed to rebuild, not suppressed and subjected to repression like what has happened right after and since Katrina. This won’t be easy, but it will be possible under socialism, where the masses of people are fully mobilized to struggle out, figure out and work together to transform society and emancipate the people.
 
The holiday demolition of public housing is an outrage on top of all the other outrages this system has already perpetrated on the people of New Orleans. People are fighting for the right to return to the city, to rebuild their homes and their lives—and there is a critical need for affordable housing in New Orleans. People need to fight to see to it that none of it is destroyed.
 
Whatever twists and turns this struggle goes through, a real fight to stop these demolitions is what’s needed and possible. It’s not a done deal—that the authorities can destroy these developments and the people can’t do anything about it. Already the power of the people’s resistance has caused them to back off temporarily. Now this resistance must get stronger, and it must draw support from all over the country. There are no “outsiders” in the fight for justice—New Orleans is everyone’s battle. And if that’s done, it will create new ground to advance the struggle to defend public housing in New Orleans and around the country. And it would raise people’s consciousness and help politically prepare them for revolution.
 
Revolution is calling on its readers to send messages of support to the people in New Orleans, which we will forward.  

Send us your comments. Office of Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, P.O. Box 941 Knickerbocker Station, New York NY 10002-0900, (866) 841-9139 x2670

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Demolition protests ignore some realities—"This is immoral and must be stopped!" activist Don Everard, director of Hope House near the former St. Thomas development, shouted on Wednesday as he blocked a bulldozer at Cooper. "It's a hate crime against poor people." Such outcry has found, at least for now, several allies. On Friday, an Orleans Parish judge approved an agreement under which the Cooper demolition can continue, but the others will not be razed unless the City Council grants permits for the work. The council is expected to consider the demolitions at its regular meeting on Thursday. In a letter to President Bush on Friday, the two top Democrats on Capitol Hill called for a 60-day moratorium on the demolitions -- citing a shortage of affordable housing across the region.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued that the "premature push" by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to tear down the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, Lafitte and St. Bernard complexes will hinder the return of residents to the storm-ravaged region.

 Yet HUD officials, who have repeatedly said the agency will not support concentrating poor families in deteriorating buildings, say no one is homeless due to a lack of available public housing. And HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson warned that thwarting the demolition plans will cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in new housing and render thousands of families ineligible for vouchers to pay 100 percent of their rent because they were moved out of complexes slated for demolition.—by Coleman Warner, Michelle Krupa and Gwen Filosa. NOLA News

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While New Orleans faces its worst housing crisis in over 100 years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) insists on carrying out a plan to bulldoze 4,500 units of affordable public housing, much of which could be made available to residents.

If HUD is allowed to proceed, it will eliminate the majority of affordable public housing in the city1, shutting out thousands of low-income Katrina survivors who have been fighting for over two years to return home. It would be a shameful slap in the face.

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards, and the leaders of both houses of Congress--Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid--have called on President Bush to issue a moratorium to stop the demolition. But HUD hasn't budged, even with HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and his staff under federal investigation for corruption in their handling of the contracting for the redevelopment plan.

It's time for everyday folks to take a stand. As early as Thursday, the New Orleans City Council will vote on whether to permit HUD to carry out its demolitions. You can let them know that you expect them to reject any plan that uses federal dollars to gentrify New Orleans. And you can add your voice to the public demand that Bush hold HUD accountable and block any action until problems with the plan are addressed and the investigation of Alphonso Jackson is complete. It takes only a moment:

http://www.colorofchange.org/hudhousing/?id=2017-171620

New Orleans Housing Crisis

With New Orleans in the middle of a serious housing emergency, it just doesn't make sense to destroy housing that's in good condition.2 Rents have gone up 45% since Katrina, the city has already lost 9,000 units of affordable housing, and half of the families that want to return home make less than $20,000 a year. In the last two years, New Orleans' homeless population has more than doubled--12,000 New Orleanians have no place to live.3

Many of the units HUD plans to destroy are in very well-constructed buildings that were barely damaged by Katrina, and would require a minimum of renovation to provide quality housing, even if only temporarily.4 Rather than addressing the pressing, immediate need for affordable housing, HUD's plan threatens to make the problem worse.

HUD's flawed redevelopment plan

Whatever your views are on public housing, HUD's redevelopment plan is ill-conceived and irresponsible. The plan calls for replacing New Orleans' current public housing with mixed-income housing, which many believe is a better model for public housing. But in making the switch, HUD refuses to rebuild the same number of affordable public housing units as it destroys. HUD's plan would destroy 4,600 affordable public housing units, while the new mixed-income housing would only include 744 units of affordable housing, and building those units will take several years.5 The inevitable result will be thousands of low-income residents--most of whom are Black--pushed out of the city.

Questions have also been raised about the motivations behind HUD's plan. The head of HUD, Alphonso Jackson, and his staff are under criminal investigation – by the FBI, Department of Justice, and HUD's inspector general -- for corruption in HUD/Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO)'s process for handing out contracts related to the redevelopment plan. The contract for demolishing and rebuilding the St. Bernard housing project was given to a firm that owes Jackson at least $250,000 (and as much as $500,000). Scott Keller – Jackson's right hand man and point person for dealing with New Orleans public housing – pushed hard for that firm to receive the contract. Investigators are also focusing on the fact that HUD/HANO paid $485,000 to one of Jackson's golfing buddies for work as a construction manager over an 18-month period.6,7

No Demolition without a solution that makes sense

At best, HUD has a goal that many think is good (moving towards mixed-income housing), but a deeply flawed plan that will be disastrous to New Orleans residents who need the most help. At worst, HUD is pushing a plan that will help enrich its secretary and his cronies, while leaving working-class people out in the cold and dramatically reshaping the class makeup of New Orleans. Either way, it would be a huge mistake to let HUD push forward with demolitions until these issues are addressed and resolved.

Tomorrow, the New Orleans City Council will decide whether it's going to allow HUD to continue down this reckless path. Council members need to hear that people across the country disapprove of HUD's plan. Will you join us in calling on the city council to reject the plan, and on President Bush to stop HUD from proceeding?

ColorofChange

Thank You and Peace—James, Van, Gabriel, Mervyn, Clarissa, and the rest of the ColorofChange.org team    December 19th, 2007

References:
 
1. Fewer Homes for Katrina's Poorest Victims, PolicyLink, December 2007  PolicyLink

2. Condition of the Four New Orleans Housing Projects Slated for Demolition, Gulf Coast Fair Housing Network  FairHousingNetwork

3. Speaker Pelosi and Reid Urge President to Halt Demolition of Public Housing in New Orleans, The Gavel, December 15, 2007  Speaker.gov

4. See reference 2.

5. HUD Sends New Orleans Bulldozers and $400,000 Apartments for the Holidays, Common Dreams, December 3, 2007  CommonDreams

6. HUD Probe Heats Up, National Journal, December 14, 2007 NationalJournal

7. Questionable Contracts, National Journal, December 18, 2007 NationalJournal

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The Shock Doctrine in Action in New Orleans
By Naomi Klein


Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that one of the most shameless examples of  disaster capitalism has been the attempt to exploit the disastrous flooding of New Orleans to close down that city’s public housing projects, some of the only affordable units in the city. Most of the buildings sustained minimal flood damage, but they happen to occupy valuable land that make for perfect condo developments and hotels. The final showdown over New Orleans public housing is playing out in dramatic fashion right now. The conflict is a classic example of the “triple shock” formula at the core of the doctrine.

• First came the shock of the original disaster: the flood and the traumatic evacuation.

• Next came the “economic shock therapy”: using the window of  opportunity opened up by the first shock to push through a rapid-fire attack on the city’s public services and spaces, most notably it’s homes, schools and hospitals.

• Now we see that as residents of New Orleans try to resist these  attacks, they are being met with a third shock: the shock of the police baton and the Taser gun, used on the bodies of protestors outside New Orleans City  Hall yesterday.

Source: HuffingtonPost

New Orleans City Council Shuts Down Public Housing Debate (video)

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011
 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 20 December 2007

 

 

 

Home   Katrina Flood Index

Related files: Ron Artest Ain’t the Problem!  People Did Not Have to Die  Another Stolen Election?   The Watts Rebellion  Protest to Stop Police Brutality Tavis Black Agenda Event in Chicago‏   Destroying Homes for the Holiday 

 The Plan for Public Housing in New Orleans      Bulldozers . . . for Wealthy Developers   Protesters Pepper Sprayed Tasered