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The authorities consider the replacement of St Thomas with the mixed income River

Gardens development a success story . . . St Thomas had 1,500 units

of low income housing. River Gardens has only 150 such units.



The Plan for Public Housing in New Orleans   

Abandoned Then Bulldozed

By Carl Dix


In late October, the U.S. government, through HUD, gave the go ahead to demolish four of the largest public housing projects in New Orleans. On November 15, a federal judge refused to block the demolitions – clearing the way for the demolition of the BW Cooper, CJ Peete, Lafitte and St Bernard developments.

These projects aren’t just structures. These were people’s communities -- where 1000's of people grew up, met, fell in love and raised families. These buildings suffered less damage than other housing in the floods because of their solid brick construction and could house 4,700 families. But the government plans to demolish them and build "mixed income" housing that will include less than 750 units for people with low incomes.

Much of the Black population of this city has been dispersed throughout the country since Katrina. By March of 2007, it was estimated that 200,000 former residents had still not returned to New Orleans and that more than 150,000 of them are Black.

The demolition of public housing is yet another way the government is discouraging and preventing people from coming back to New Orleans. In effect the message is: “You'll never be able to come back home because there will be nowhere you can live.”

The number of homeless people in New Orleans is double what it was before Katrina. Lafitte, which could house almost 900 families but is now almost empty, sits across the street from a homeless encampment where dozens of people live under a freeway overpass.

New Orleans desperately needs affordable housing. Yet the authorities are determined to destroy 1000's of housing units that could be made suitable for people to live in. Where's the logic in this? To anyone concerned about the needs of the people, this is insane. But the people who run this system operate based on a cold capitalist logic. For them what matters is keeping their system in effect and as lean and mean a profit-making machine as possible.

Florida projects

 To do this, they will demolish public housing, no matter how this impacts people's lives. For this system, a disaster that killed 1,800 people and forced 200,000 out of the city is an /opportunity/ to rebuild a New Orleans that's smaller and whiter and rid of those who the system has no need for.

What’s Behind the Drive to Demolish?

There's been a nationwide assault on public housing for more than a decade that reflects the changing needs of US imperialism. Many of the projects in the US were built after World War 2 to house Black people who were being drawn into the cities in large numbers to work in factories. These projects were a way to enforce racial segregation. In
New Orleans, three of the seven projects built in this period were reserved for whites, while the others housed Black people. By the 1960's the racial composition of the projects had shifted, and the overwhelming majority of residents were Black.

In the 1970's, as part of striving to remain competitive with their imperialist rivals, US corporations began to move factories from the inner cities to the suburbs and to other countries. At the same time, immigrants from Mexico and other countries began to be hired for many of the jobs on the bottom of the work force that used to be filled by Black

Several factors drove these developments. Many immigrants can be forced to work for super low wages and in miserable conditions because they lack legal status. At the same time, long experience with brutal oppression, and the struggle against that oppression, has led many Black people to develop an attitude of both defiance and unwillingness to take shit jobs. This is a very positive quality to anybody who wants to change the world-but it's considered dangerous by the ruling class.

The result of all this is large numbers of Black people have been pushed out of the work force. Jobs and opportunity have been sucked out of the ghettos. And residential segregation means the places Black people live have become concentrations of poverty. So the very operations of the system has created a situation where the capitalists face the “problem” of millions of Black people they can no longer profitably exploit.

From the point of view of this system, the masses of Black people have become so much surplus populationin the way and potentially explosive. When Katrina hit, in places where many Black lived, like the Lower 9th Ward and Central City half of all working age people were not in the work force! A key part of the way the system has been dealing with this is the warehousing of Black people in prison. Between 1984 and 2004, the number of Black people in jail in the US skyrocketed from 98,00 to 910,000! (For a full discussion of this, see "Crime and Punishment  . . .  & Capitalism," Revolution # 106.)

This was the context in which government plans to demolish housing projects have been developed. Between 1996 and 2002, 80,000 units of public housing were demolished nationwide. In New Orleans the number of public housing units was reduced from 14,000 in 1988 to 6,000 in 2005. The Desire housing development was demolished in the 1990's, and St Thomas was demolished in 2001. Fisher was partly demolished before Hurricane Katrina. The mixed income developments that replaced these projects has 75%-90% /fewer/ low income housing units!

The authorities seized on Hurricane Katrina to empty the projects. Everyone who came to the emergency shelters was taken out of the city.

Housing to replace demolished projects

Some people who lived in the projects stayed in their homes during Katrina because they knew the projects usually suffered less damage during storms. People who didn't live in the project even came there to ride out the storm.

On September 6, 2005, the city issued an order authorizing law enforcement to forcibly remove people from their homes. People who refused to leave were taken from their homes and forced to leave the city. And people weren't allowed to return to the projects. The city put a barb-wire fence around the St Bernard project and part of BW Cooper. They put metal enclosures over the doors and windows In Lafitte. They also shut down CJ Peete and partially fenced it in, even though it had suffered NO flood damage.

The authorities consider the replacement of St Thomas with the mixed income River Gardens development a success story which they promise to repeat with these demolitions. St Thomas had 1,500 units of low income housing. River Gardens has only 150 such units. Now, two years after Katrina, less than 100 former residents of St Thomas have gotten into River Gardens. Others who applied to move back in were told they didn't make enough money. As far as the ruling class is concerned, these people can just go somewhere and die!

The Need for Resistance

The authorities plan to begin the demolitions before the end of the year. Court cases, congressional legislation, appeals to reason-all that is being shoved aside or bottled up. If these demolitions aren't met with determined resistance, the rulers will get away with cleansing New Orleans of much of its Black population. What's needed now is massive resistance.

Demolishing the projects won't provide people with decent housing. It will mean that 1000's more poor people will have nowhere to live. It will mean that many of those currently exiled from New Orleans will remain unable to return.

These demolitions must be stopped.

But the goal in this fight isn't to get back to how the projects used to be. Capitalism has made the projects places where poor Black people live, in miserable conditions with little hope for the future.

The total inability of this system to provide people with decent housing is yet another sharp example of why we need a whole new society where power is in the hands of the people and is wielded in their interests. And we need a revolution to make this possible.

New Orleans camp out protesting being shut out

If the authorities are allowed to get away with this, people's communities will be reduced to piles of rubble. And the killing program the rulers are enforcing on Black people will escalate.

But if people build a powerful political struggle against this attack. If the justice of fighting these demolitions is brought out to different kinds of people throughout society and many of them join the fight. If protest and resistance forces the system to stop their bulldozers. This can create a whole new ball game. The people must derail the rulers'
plans to drive out much of the Black population of New Orleans and such resistance needs to become part of a growing revolutionary movement.

This article appeared in Revolution Newspaper ( address comments to,  and get involved in stopping this attack. 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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We Are All Victims of the Katrina Housing Debacle—The masters of capital enjoyed a windfall, literally, when Hurricane Katrina and its official enablers swept out half of Black New Orleansnow ripe for gentrification. Black political leadership has collectively failed to respond to the New Orleans catastrophe, just as they have been impotent in the face of the general tide of gentrification. But we have a few heroes and heroines. Maxine Waters, the Black Congresswoman from Los Angeles, successfully pushed through the U.S. House of Representatives a bill that would at least conserve from demolition the city's stock of public housing, and replace some of the affordable housing that has been lost, as an anchor for African American return to their ancestral place.

Color of Change, the progressive Black organization that is using the Internet to connect the cyber-world with the real world of Black struggle, is pushing for Senate passage of Maxine Water's bill. Go to, and lend your signature. But remember: the bell that tolls for New Orleans, tolls for all of us.Glen Ford A Black Agenda Radio commentary. Black Agenda Report

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Missing People in New Orleans—Its figures paint a dramatic picture of jobs and housing decline in the central city area. During the storm's aftermath, thousands of residents were evacuated from the city. Two years later, one in three households have still not returned, and the population has dropped from 455,000 to 274,000. Poor households with children are particularly likely to have stayed away, with the number of children in public schools at only 40% of its pre-Katrina level. To some extent, migrants from Mexico and Central America have replaced Afro-Americans in New Orleans, with an estimated additional 100,000 Hispanic people in the region. They have been attracted by some of the relatively well-paying jobs in construction and tourism. Looking for jobs—But overall, the News Orleasn metro area employs 113,000 fewer people than in August 2005, and the pace of job creation has slowed to a crawl. The biggest declines were in tourism jobs (down 24,500), government jobs (down 29,000) and healthcare jobs (down 23,000). And 4,000 smaller firms closed after the storm. "We apparently are at a place where the post-storm employment recovery is peaking," said demographer Elliot Stonecipher. "Those categorical drops in jobs paint a picture of a devastated economy and we have to stop acting like they didn't happen."  Steve Schifferes. Two years on, New Orleans stalls News BBC

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new orleans--statement from the coalition to
stop demolition +  updates

Dear comrades,

In the past two years, New Orleans has faced a series of social crises that have struck a blow to our collective vision for a more just and equitable city, not simply one that is more inviting to elites. Yet none of these crises has been so uniquely urgent as this. What is at stake with the demolition of public housing in New Orleans is more than just the loss of housing units: it destroys any possibility for affordable housing in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. Without access to affordable housing, thousands of working class New Orleanians will be denied their human right to return.

Although this situation is unique and urgent in the city of New Orleans, it does not occur in isolation. The plans for redevelopment here are part of a national assault on public housing, in which tens of thousands of homes have been demolished in the past decade.

Though we face this ongoing crisis together across this country, in New Orleans the prospect of demolition is a critical moment for the reconstruction movement itself. It is a test of the strength and will of our movement: a loss at this juncture would be a blow to the ability of the movement to grow and sustain itself to fight on other fronts.

In coming to New Orleans, you are helping us to draw this line in the sand. You are taking part in a critical piece of the ongoing fight against neo-liberal incursions into our cities. Here in New Orleans, as the bulldozers arrive to destroy any hope for the right of return for thousands of families, you can help us push back this agenda, and stand fast with us to promote a more people-focused reconstruction: one that is based on a vision of justice and rights for all people, and not profits for corporations and the desires of those with power.

We stand for a reconstruction that values and preserves services and infrastructure for poor people who have always lived, worked, and struggled to survive in New Orleans, and who possess the right to return to the homes from which they fled or were forcibly removed more than two years ago.

Thank you for making the pledge to stand with us at this time. May the love of justice, not power, guide our actions.

In Unity and Struggle,
The Coalition to Stop Demolition

Organizations supporting:

Churches Supporting Churches
Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond
Common Ground
Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund
Mennonite Central Committee
Louisiana Justice Institute
C3 and several others!

Demolition Update 11-29-07

Louisiana Housing Finance Agency has reserved $35 million in tax credits for HANO to "rehabilitate" six public housing buildings—making up 1949 units.  This is an extension of the tax credit arrangement between HANO and the LHFA on St. Bernard I, BW Cooper, Lafitte, CJPeete I/III and Fisher.  The extension is subject to the following conditions: including: 1) HANO provides written confirmation to LHFA no later than Dec. 18 that demolition has begun on the six properties....

Source: Daily Journal of Commerce, November 27, 2007

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Demolition of St. Bernard December 15, 2007 / BW Cooper I  December 15, 2007

Lafitte - December 17, 2007 /   CJ Peete III - December 15, 2007

Fisher - December 15, 2007

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Gulf Watch: Take action to save NOLA public housing—Next Monday, Dec. 10, is international Human Rights Day. It's also the day when activists in New Orleans are calling for actions opposing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to tear down more than 4,600 public housing units in four complexes across the city -- while replacing them with private, mixed-income developments that will set aside only 744 apartments for low-income people. The decision to demolish these public complexes, which suffered only relatively minor damage during Hurricane Katrina, comes as rents across the city have doubled since the storm -- as has the homeless population. The activists are asking concerned citizens across the country to join the actions in New Orleans or to take action at home. According to a statement from Kali Akuno, director of the Stop the Demolition Coalition: What is at stake with the demolition of public housing in New Orleans is more than just the loss of housing units: it destroys any possibility for affordable housing in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. Without access to affordable housing, thousands of working class New Orleanians will be denied their human right to return. Southern Studies

posted 21 November 2007

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

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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.—Publishers Weekly

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Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. . . . For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. / For Love of Liberty

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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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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