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Homeless for the Holidays: Who Would Jesus Evict? A Tale of Two Christmases: 2007, 1959

New Orleans Council Votes for Demolition of Housing. Raze ’n’ Taser Now, Replace Housing Later. Maybe.

LNW_N.O.HousingDemo.Protest.12-21-07

In New Orleans, where rental costs and homelessness have doubled since Katrina, protesters at City Hall clashed with police and some were Tasered while inside the City Council voted unanimously to allow the federal government to demolish 4,500 units in the city’s four largest public housing projects.

DEC. 20, 2007
Video: Protesters at City Hall are Tasered and pepper-sprayed [1]
The New Orleans City Council was meeting to vote on the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) demolition requests Thursday afternoon. Outside the building, protesters gathered at a metal gate, which they eventually breached. Police pushed them back, using Tasers and pepper spray.

New Orleans Council Votes for Demolition of Housing [2]

Bill Quigley [3], a human rights lawyer and professor at Loyola University Law Clinic, New Orleans, speaks to reporter about police treatment of protesters.

Naomi Klein [4] sees ‘economic shock therapy’ in action, after the shocks of storm, flood, and prolonged evacuation. See her article ‘Shock and Tasers [5] in New Orleans’ below.

Democracy Now: The Battle to Save New Orleans Public Housing [6]

New Orleans Hurt by Acute Rental Shortage [7]
by Susan Saulny, New York Times, Dec. 3, 2007

Housing Anxiety in New Orleans [8] (New York Times video)

LNW_CityHallXmas1959In stark contrast to the distressing scenes at City Hall in recent days, a former mayor’s Christmas card below feels like a hundred years ago. In 1959 Mayor DeLesseps S. ‘Chep’ Morrison sent the ‘new City Hall’ scene to friends and fellow citizens in New Orleans and beyond . . .

From the Sermon on the Mount:

I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.

. . . .

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least
of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.
MATTHEW 25:35–41

LNW_N.O.rentgraph

‘FEMA and the federal bureaucracy seem oblivious to the fact that virtually no new affordable rental housing has yet appeared in New Orleans to replace what was lost.

‘To withdraw housing assistance to the neediest people is a shirking of federal responsibility for the design failure of the federal levees in New Orleans, which was the cause of most of the destruction of affordable housing here.’

—MARTHA J. KEGEL, executive director of Unity of Greater New Orleans, a group of 60 agencies that house and feed the homeless. ‘New Orleans Hurt by Acute Rental Shortage [7],’ New York Times, Dec. 3, 2007.

* * *

from “Shock and Tasers in New Orleans”

by Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine [9]:
The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
[this article originally published at HuffingtonPost.com]
Dec. 22, 2007

NAOMI KLEIN: Readers of my book 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 its 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.

For more context, here are couple of related excerpts from The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism:

“The Bush administration refused to allow emergency funds to pay public sector salaries, and the City of New Orleans, which lost its tax base, had to fire three thousand workers in the months after Katrina. Among them were sixteen of the city’s planning staff—with shades of ‘de-Ba’athification,’ laid off at the precise moment when New Orleans was in desperate need of planners. Instead, millions of public dollars went to outside consultants, many of whom were powerful real estate developers. And of course thousands of teachers were also fired, paving the way for the conversion of dozens of public schools into charter schools, just as [economist Milton] Friedman had called for.

“Almost two years after the storm, Charity Hospital was still closed. The court system was barely functioning, and the privatized electricity company, Entergy, had failed to get the whole city back online. . . . The public transit system was gutted and lost almost half its workers. The vast majority of publicly owned housing projects stood boarded up and empty, with five thousand units slotted for demolition by the federal housing authority. Much as the tourism lobby in Asia had longed to be rid of the beachfront fishing villages, New Orleans’ powerful tourism lobby had been eyeing the housing projects, several of them on prime land close to the French Quarter, the city’s tourism magnet.”

Naomi Klein’s ‘Shock Doctrine [10]’ resource page on post-Katrina New Orleans

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