SAVE THE DATEAND JOIN US!!!!!
Washington, D.C. August 24, 25, and 26, 2006
Baton Rouge, August 27-28, 2006
New Orleans, August 29, 2006
THIS IS A RESIDENT-LED EFFORT BY SURVIVORS WHO HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE MOST IMPACTED BY THE KATRINA DISASTER AND WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE LEAST ASSISTANCE AND RESOURCES FROM FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ANDTHEIR AGENCIES. THEY WANT TO KNOW IF YOUR ADVOCACY, ACTIVIST, OR PROGRESSIVE ORGANIZATION WANTS TO SUPPORTTHIS AND HAVE ONE OF YOUR MEMBERS PLAY AN ACTIVE ROLE ON BEHALF OF YOUR ORGANIZATION TO PULL THIS OFF THEY WANT OUR HELP AND SUPPORT!!!
We are planning to have at least of 5,000 Katrina survivors bused into D.C., Baton Rouge, and New Orleans from all across the U.S. We are focusing our efforts on bringing residents in from seven states in the Southern Region: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida.
We are specifically reaching out to those who are public housing residents, renters, and home owners that the city, state and federal government are trying to keep from returning home We need help with food, housing, medical providers, logistics, showers/toilets, entertainment, & advertising.
For more info, contact the following organization representatives:
Makani, Praxis Project (202) 234-5921
Ishmael, Advancement Project and People's Organizing
Committee (504) 872-9591, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit our website: www.peoplesorganizing.org
People's Organizing Committee: Return, Rebuild, Resist!
Volume 1, Number 2 * June 16, 2006
Resident addresses City Council June 15
Residents Protest HUD Plan to Demolish Public Housing
June 15 More than a hundred New Orleans residents attended a City Council meeting today, less than 24 hours after HUD announced it would demolish over 5,000 public housing units. Speaker after speaker expressed their anger, accusing the government of trying to prevent poor, black residents from reclaiming their homes.
"This is pre-meditated murder," said one public housing resident, pointing out that at least 50 elderly people have died due to stress at not being allowed back into their apartments.
Curtis Muhammad, a founder and organizer of Community Labor United and the People's Organizing Committee, pointed out that HUD's representative literally had his back to the people as he presented the government's plan. Quoting the words of the founding fathers, he reminded residents that if the government no longer serves the people's needs, they have a right to rebel and to do what is needed to take care of themselves. He also referred to the constitutional right citizens have to arrest anyone including HUD if they are committing a felony. Residents cheered his words enthusiastically.
POC and the New Orleans Survivor Council have been active in the past few weeks cleaning out and opening public housing units with public housing residents. Many units need only cleaning; Katrina did not damage them badly.
After Katrina, the government forcibly removed public housing residents from all of the undamaged or mildly damaged units. They bolted steel plates or plywood over doors and windows to keep people out, which also increased the growth and destructiveness of mold in the units. Residents were sent to shelters all over the country, and have not been able to return.
Most public housing residents had jobs that kept the city going and businesses making money. As several pointed out, their ancestors were the slaves and workers who built the city in the first place. People's Organizing Committee is dedicated to the right of all New Orleans residents to return to their homes! We will continue to support and help organize the efforts of residents to reclaim their lives.
Donate to help our work!
People's Organizing Committee
418 W. 145th Street
New York, NY 10031
Summer Project Update
Students, teachers, carpenters and others continue to stream into POC headquarters to volunteer their gifts, skills and talents to the people of New Orleans. Katrina on the Ground students are helping with gutting and organizing, as are students from Chicago, New York, Vermont, Montana and Los Angeles. Korean high school students from LA and New York arrive in June. To join or support this important work, go to www.peoplesorganizing.org. You'll find links for a downloadable summer project pamphlet, a volunteer packet, and donations. Thanks!
Volunteers and residents after gutting home of Baker trailer park resident.
Resistance in the Belly of the Beast:
A Survivor Council Develops in a Trailer Park
Monday, May 29, 2006
"When these folks [People's Organizing Committee] came here last week, I figured they were just another group promising stuff they wouldn't deliver. They were promising to gut people's places for free. So I decided to challenge them I told them, okay, you can gut my house. But I didn't really expect them to do it. So on Saturday, I drove over to New Orleans, and I called them. They said they were already on their way. So that was the first surprise. But when they got there, I saw it was S. and four women. I thought, no way, these folks are not for real. My house doesn't have dry wall, it has plaster walls. No way some women were going to knock that stuff out it's hard as concrete. But those ladies got to work, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. They just worked! They were covered in dust and insulation. I was so impressed with them. So I told them I was going to the store and asked them what they wanted they said, just some juice. Man, I went and bought everything, sandwiches, chicken, fruit, juice. They were amazing. So I want you all to know, these folks are for real. They do what they say. And I am so grateful to them, I got this thank you card I'm going to read to you and give them. But you can trust these folks, they really are for real!"
These were the words that opened a meeting under the tent in the middle of a trailer park in Baker, Louisiana. The previous week, when POC organizers went to the park, nine people came to the meeting they had called. This time, we made a circle of fifteen folding chairs, hoping for a slightly larger crowd. As the meeting went on, we kept having to add chairs, move the circle out, add more chairs. By the end of it, nearly 30 residents took part in the meeting.
This trailer park is one of many scattered around the Gulf Coast. It is really more like a concentration camp than a trailer park. Several thousand tiny trailers are lined up on a treeless patch of gravel on a dead-end road, surrounded by chain-link fencing. Dozens of security guards in black shirts patrol constantly. Visitors must say who they are seeing and guards write down each name visitor's name. Photography is not allowed. Security even attended the meeting.
Security patrols trailer park in Baker
In spite of these intimidating conditions, people spoke freely at the meeting. Everyone introduced themselves, and said whether they wanted to move back home to New Orleans or not. Now that they saw POC was serious, nearly everyone wanted to return. Three construction workers in the group volunteered to form a committee to find out the needs of everyone who signed up for house gutting or renovation. The first three homes were scheduled, and people talked about the importance of helping each other on this work. Another resident signed up to be an organizer, in particular to spread the movement to the other trailer parks in the area, and this work was begun on Thursday. The first two homes were gutted that weekend!
The POC organizer and three volunteers were greatly inspired by the folks who lost all in the hurricane except their humanity, unity and determination!
Updates from Baker:
June 5 meeting: The people of the Baker's Survivors' Council are excited about the effect they can have on the situation in New Orleans.
They formed five committees -- Organizing, Reconstruction, Education, Finance & Fundraising, and Media and then discussed specific tasks for each. The Finance & Fundraising Committee started raising funds at the meeting. D. M., who has volunteered to be the committee coordinator, said, "I got five bucks," when they asked him how he was going to raise money. His comment started others reaching for their wallets. Everyone pulled out a dollar or more and tossed it in the pot in the center of the circle. In just a few short minutes, the survivors' had raised $65 and decided to use it to buy water for the volunteers who came to help gut houses.
June 12 meeting: Each of the committees had been working. The education committee had been to a conference over the weekend and made several contacts. A couple different dance teams want to help with the mentoring program by establishing dance teams for the girls and a semi-pro coach wants to set up a football team for the boys. The YWCA also wants to help.
The finance & fundraising committee coordinator had contacted businesses the trailer park residents support regularly. Baker Hardware, where many residents buy propane, made a commitment to donate all the plumbing supplies we need. Several of the RTA workers eat breakfast everyday at Baker Express. They have allowed a donation jar to be set next to the register with a note explaining our purpose. Wal-Mart has agreed to donate two cases of water a day for the gutting and reconstruction crews.
There were a lot of new faces at the meeting. It was evident that the organizing committee had been spreading the word around the different trailer park communities in Baker. All throughout the meeting people kept showing up and asking questions. A couple of young men at their first meeting are thinking of having a party/barbeque to raise funds for the work.
Lower Ninth Ward Remembers Victims of the Levee Break on Memorial Day
We remember the victims of hurricane Katrina and will rebuild with them in our hearts.
Child at memorial service and levee walk in Lower Ninth Ward on May 29th. Event was sponsored by NENA and supported by the New Orleans Survivors' Council.
New Orleans Survivors' Council
Housing Project Residents Lead the Way to Take Back Their Homes
June 5, 2006 On Saturday June 3rd a group of approximately 8 residents were joined by dozens of supporters at the Florida housing development. Media coverage was present as residents tore down the wooden boards that kept them from entering their homes and went in to remove piles of debris and furniture, beginning work on what is planned to be a permanent return to their homes. It was an emotional day for many survivors as they re-entered their homes for the first time since September and saw the full extent of the damage to their homes and belongings. Some tried to salvage mementos and pictures that they were able to find among the debris. Many expressed a deepened determination to return to their homes and communities regardless of city policies. It was a reminder for all present of the power and beauty inherent in community and unity.
Florida resident speaks to the press
Please help do this important work! Donate to the People's Organizing
1418 W. 145th Street
New York, NY 10031
Donations are tax deductible.
If We Don't Think It, It Ain't for Us
People's Organizing Committee
New Orleans, LA 70119
Write to us at email@example.com
At the St. Bernard housing development residents set up a tent city which they named Survivor's Village as a sign of resistance to the city's no return policy for most public housing residents. Although residents are keeping their activities off of HANO property for the time being, they plan to take the same course of action that Florida housing residents have taken and begin the gutting work necessary to move back into their homes.
POC volunteers suit up for Florida clean-up
Residents of both housing projects attended both actions, and it is hoped that a coalition will arise out of the support the residents have shown for each other's activities.
The Reconstruction Committee continues to gut homes, and has applied for grants that will hopefully help provide both equipment and training in the building trades for residents as we continue to help each other rebuild our homes.
POC also continues to train organizers through its Organizing School.
Copyright © 2006
Last Modified: June 25, 2006.