September 9, 2005

Katrina: No Room In The Gretna Inn

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 7:54 pm

Update 9-15-05: Father Jake has a post at the Christian Alliance for Progress with links to more eye-witness accounts, corroboration from the Gretna police and media reports of this incident. I’m afraid though, for those denying that this ever happened, no amount of evidence will ever be enough.


There are many things that happened during the aftermath of Katrina that leave me both angry and depressed, but this really tops them all. From the Washington Times (via Political Animal, the in-house blog of the Washington Monthly), is this:

Police from surrounding jurisdictions shut down several access points to one of the only ways out of New Orleans last week, effectively trapping victims of Hurricane Katrina in the flooded and devastated city.

An eyewitness account from two San Francisco paramedics posted on an internet site for Emergency Medical Services specialists says, “Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot.”

“We shut down the bridge,” Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International, adding that his jurisdiction had been “a closed and secure location” since before the storm hit.

“If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged.”

But — in an example of the chaos that continued to beset survivors of the storm long after it had passed — even as Lawson’s men were closing the bridge, authorities in New Orleans were telling people that it was only way out of the city.

“The only way people can leave the city of New Orleans is to get on (the) Crescent City Connection … authorities said,” reads a Tuesday morning posting on the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, which kept reporting through the storm and the ruinous flooding that followed.

As they made their way to the bridge in order to leave the city “armed Gretna sheriffs (sic) formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads.”

Members of the group nonetheless approached the police lines, and “questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge … They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City.

“These were code words,” the paramedics wrote, “for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.”

It reminds me of the morality police that prevented school girls from escaping a blazing fire in Saudi Arabia because they weren’t properly covered. Only in this case, it was a desire to protect property, not modesty.

So it turns out that Bush is right, at least in this case — the local officials were to blame.

Here’s an idea — it’s time for a protest march, once things are opened up again, over the Crescent City Connection bridge and into Gretna. With lots of media there. And let’s see if the Gretna police try to stop them this time.

10 Comments

  1. This whole incident is a lie. This never happened.

    Comment by James Hart — September 13, 2005 @ 7:26 pm

  2. Like the Holocaust didn’t happen, huh?

    Comment by wildwest — September 14, 2005 @ 7:05 am

  3. I LIVE IN GRETNA AND THERE IS MUCH MORE TO THIS STORY THAN HAS BEEN REPORTED. FIRST GRETNA IS NOT SOME LILLY WHITE COMMUNITY. THIS AREA IS APPROX 40% AFRICAN AMERICAN. SECONDLY WHEN THE PEOPLE FIRST STARTED COMING OVER THE BRIDGE THE GRETNA POLICE ROUNDED UP BUSSES AND DRIVERS AND MOVED ABOUT 5000 TO 6000 REFUGEES TO THE RED CROSS STAGING AREA (ALSO IN JEFFERSON PARISH). WHEN NO MORE GAS COULD BE FOUND FOR THE BUSSES. THE POLICE BEGAN LETTING HUNDREDS SEEK SHELTER AT A PUBLIC BUS DEPOT NEAR THE BRIDGE. FROM THERE THEY BRANCHED OUT AND BEGAN LOOTING AND SET FIRE TO A NEARBY SHOPPING MALL. BY THEN WORD HAD SPREAD THAT THE WEST BANK WAS A WAY OUT AND MASSES OF PEOPLE BEGAN COMING ACROSS THE BRIDGE. THIS IS WHEN THE POLICE STOPPED THE EXODUS. THE GRETNA POLICE FELT LIKE THEY HAD NO CHOICE SINCE THEY HAD NO FOOD, WATER OR SHELTER FOR THE PEOPLE. BEAR IN MIND THIS COMMUNITY HAD JUST BEEN STRUCK BY THE SAME HURRICANE THAT DEVASTATED NEW ORLEANS. THERE WAS NO HELP FROM THE NATIONAL GUARD AND NONE FROM FEMA. GRETNA WAS BARELY ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF ITS OWN AND YET NO ONE PAYS ANY ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS WHO COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF THEM EITHER AND TOLD THEM TO WALK ACROSS THE BRIDGE.

    Comment by Ben Longworth — September 27, 2005 @ 5:57 pm

  4. I was going to write pretty much exactly what the person wrote in Comment #3. Mayor Nagin sent the looters, rapist, murderers across the bridge to Gretna. Gretna did not have anything more to offer than the Convention Center had. No food, no water, no power… Why did he send them? People act like the Convention Center was flooding and the people were going to drown by staying there. The Convention Center had the same conditions as Gretna… so why did he send them to Gretna. We have a small Police force who cannot handle the many people who were coming across the bridge. ALTHOUGH, THEY TRIED TO! They had people in the bus terminal, helping them out as much as they could, but once some looters went to Oakwood Mall, looted and burned it and then came running into the crowd at the bus terminal and the crowd started to turn on the Gretna Police, they could no longer keep control of the city, so they had no other choice but to not allow them into the city. And this report that they turned them back to New Orleans is false. They allowed them to continue walking on to the next city and they even bussed some of them out the city to help them get out. What more can you ask for out of a small neighboring city??? I guess you wanted the Gretna Police to let them break into people’s houses to get TV’s and shoes to “eat” since that is the reason for them looting the mall right???? Those shoes that they stole must have really helped their hunger…

    Comment by Jennifer — September 30, 2005 @ 9:11 am

  5. I agree complety im also from gretna and,I want to thank Arthur Lawson for protecting my city and my home while we were no longer there. Another thing is how many of the people complaning about the people from Orleans Parish not being alowed to come through Gretna Harvey Marrero and other citys on the Westbank would like thoes same people walking through there small town and citys any where else in america

    Comment by Steve — October 5, 2005 @ 11:29 am

  6. Thank you Gretna Police. You did a wonderful job no matter what anyone else says.
    At least our homes werent looted and they did not have a barbecue party with our other malls.
    The Gretna Police are exceptional.

    Comment by Tammy — October 15, 2005 @ 7:50 am

  7. Just remember, Jesus was one of those people unable to escape the hunger and destitution in New Orleans because of the Gretna police. “As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”

    But at least your mall wasn’t looted.

    Comment by Bob — October 16, 2005 @ 4:47 pm

  8. The media got it all wrong, again. No suprise. I went to Gretna to volunteer as a police officer. Why did Nagan tell these people there were busses wating for them? As is pointed out, there was no shelter, food, water, medical attention, transportation, etc. Why would you make these people, some elderly or ill walk up and over that bridge and off into no place? All the help was headed to the convention center. Because Gretna had it’s stuff together, they were in a position to invite a Christian Relief group to dock their two ships and set up kitchens to cook hot meals for thousands. N. O. could not guarentee their safety, Gretna did.

    Comment by Bill — October 25, 2005 @ 6:25 pm

  9. I live in Gretna. During the storm the front door of my home was blown wide open. Nothing in my home was touched thanks to the Gretna PD. My family and I evacuated for the storm and returned 8 days later. When I returned a Gretna PD officer came to my house and informed me of what happend to my front door and apoligised for the damage they did to my floor when they moved an armoire to block the door if it was to blow open again. Neighbors of mine that stayed for the storm left only 2 days after because at night there was nothing outside to hear but automatic gunfire,(police carry semi-automatic weapons)and Oakwood Mall was being looted and burned by the very same people that were crossing the bridge. Just like what they did in the Superdome RAPE, KILL, PILAGE, STEAL, and DEFOCATE all over it.
    What people don’t realize is that the City of Gretna is only 3 square miles.
    !!!A QUOTE FROM BOB!!!
    “Just remember, Jesus was one of those people unable to escape the hunger and destitution in New Orleans because of the Gretna police. “As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.””!!!!!!!!!!!

    The major majorty of people crossing the bridge(NOPD INCLUDED)caused the problems at the Superdome, Convention Center and Oakwood mall not to mention the rest of New Orleans. The GNO Bridge is only 1 of many ways out of the city of N.O.. So why are so many people blaming one person for this? It was none other than the ONE person in charge, that did nothing for days. Everyone can blame who they want to. My opinion it is Gov. Blanco., not even Nagin, Broussard, or any other policitian. Answer Me this why didn’t Gov. Blanco call in the National Guard, either before the hurricane hit or 2 days later when the levees in New Orleans Broke? The Govener is the only person that can make that call, but Pres. G.W.Bush is trying to change that now. For 2 reasons to protect incompetent policticians and the innocent public.
    Numbers 32:17
    “But we are ready to arm ourselves and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land.”
    OR MABEY
    Psalm 5:11
    “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”
    OR EVEN STILL
    Jeremiah 33:6
    ” ‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”

    GO GRETNA POLICE, FIRE, EMS AND CITY WORKERS (and lets not forget)
    THE U.S.NATIONAL GUARD
    THE CITY OF WESTWEGO
    THE CITY OF KENNER
    THE CITY OF HARAHAN
    THE PARISH OF JEFFERSON LOUISIANA
    THE RED CROSS
    AND ALL OTHER VOLINTEERS FROM VARIOUS GROUPS

    THANK YOU ALL VERY, VERY MUCH………….GOD BLESS

    I belive everyone on the Westbank is proud! VERY PROUD!!!!

    Comment by Aaron — October 27, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

  10. thank you gretna pd for saveing my house and property form looters

    Comment by marrero — January 13, 2006 @ 9:39 am

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