We join many others in expressing great outrage at the failure of officials at all levels of government to have anticipated the needs of hurricane victims left behind in New Orleans and to provide respite and protection to them today.
These people are largely poor and black, which is why they were left in the city, unable to leave before disaster struck. Federal officials, despite adequate foreknowledge about the hurricane s probable path and years of predictions that New Orleans faced flooding, have proven incapable of providing the essentials of shelter, food and safety.
The repercussions of this catastrophe faced by the entire nation are not eased by racist reportage which identified blacks looting merchandise from a market while whites engaged in the same behavior were said to be finding their stolen goods.
What is unfolding in New Orleans is the plight of the black, urban poor writ large. Many felt before Katrina they had little left to lose now most have even less. We pay great costs for social neglect.
We call upon President Bush and Congress to end the failure of federal authorities to carry out their responsibilities and to punish those responsible for these failures to date. The strains on the federal budget caused by unwise tax giveaways to the wealthy and military shortages produced by the war in Iraq cannot be allowed to hinder aid for Americans on America soil.
Many state and local officials are doing their best under enormously tough circumstances. Private agencies are being asked to do even more than in the past fill the gaps left by the inadequacies of the public sector, now strained almost to breaking by a program of deliberate starvation directed from Washington.
The NAACP has begun a fund drive to assist victims, and as we did in the aftermath of 9/11, will establish a commission to insure that racial minorities are fairly treated in Katrina s recovery as they have not been over the last several sad days.
Copyright © 2005
Last Modified: September 2, 2005.