Looting, Vigilantism Widespread in New Orleans


In news stories and weblogs, the New Orleans Times-Picayune describes widespread looting, lawlessness and vigilantism in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Law enforcement agencies were overwhelmed. “These are not individuals looting,” said Terry Ebbert, the city’s director of Homeland Security. “These are large groups of armed individuals.” Officials in Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes tried to call for martial law. One looter shot and critically wounded a New Orleans police officer. “Put this in your paper,” one officer on Canal Street said. “They told us nothing. We were unprepared. We are completely on our own.” Looters swarmed a Wal-mart, stealing wide-screen TVs, jewelry, bicycles and computers. The gun collection was cleaned out. Shaking his head in disgust, a firefighter said of the scene: “It's a f—- hurricane, what are you do with a basketball goal?”

Some residents resorted to vigilantism. In the Uptown section, a bearded man patrolled near a boarded-up bar, a sawed-off shotgun slung over his shoulder. The owners of a hardware store sat in folding chairs, pistols at the ready. “What I want to know is why we don't have paratroopers with machine guns on every street,” said one man. In the Bywater section, stores sported spray-painted signs reading “You Loot, I Shoot,” “You Bein Watched” and “Looters Will Be Shot.”

Link: http://www.nola.com/

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