Saturday, October 15, 2005
Dennis Kyne: Update From Algiers
Update from Algiers. October 15th, 2005 Day 39
EVERYONE IS ACCOUNTABLE
What a job. I mean what a work out. There are no jobs here, but a lot of work needs to be done. Gordon and I are still in the Bayou. Ralph McAtee from www.plenty.org (Plenty International) got into Algiers last night with the bus.
If you remember the updates I stopped writing nine days into Katrina relief, before Rita even arrived, and during the changing of camps, changing of warehouses, and changing from Covington, LA to Mobile, AL; You will remember Ralph and I got into Algiers on September 6th. When the Active duty Calvary boarded the bus and accused Ralph of hotwiring the thing. You can view days 5 through nine updates at www.michaelmoore.com
You can read Ralphs notes at http://www.plenty.org/katrina/ralph.html
When we got to Malik Rahim’s house in Algiers we were putting diapers into his garage. The garage is now stacked with five computers and a radio station, Radio Algiers. You can listen to the interviews and find out what is happening on the New Orleans Indy Media site. The backyard was tightly kept for pups that call 331 Atlantic home. The backyard is now a lot different. Starhawk is here building compost toilets, believe me the porta potties have to go. There are people from all over the country here working on projects. Now we are working on mold abatement, we are working on fixing roofs. We are feeding people still, which as most of you know has been my main mission since leaving Camp Casey in September.
The Houma Nation is getting help, the occupied West Bank, where Algiers sits and where combat veteran Mike Cuzzort resides is being supported. We have supplies getting to my new friend MAMA D, and we have trucks delivering in local neighborhoods thanks to the ever steady Jimmy, who six weeks later I still don't know his last name. Shows how little that stuff means in times like this.
FROM FORCED EVACUATION TO FORCED EVICTION
When Ralph and I arrived here on the 6th there was a forced evacuation on. What had happened was everyone was starving so they left. There were 76,000 residents of Algiers before Katrina, and they reduced to 3,000 before Rita even came, and went. There was no flood, why would 73,000 people leave there homes? NO Food or water. You can see heavy ICE / WATER paintings in the street, for the five day later helicopters to see from the sky, people got nothing. A lot of Orleans Parrish residents do not drive, or own a vehicle. The facts indicate that they starved Algiers out, forced people to leave for no reason. Shortly after that day, the forced evacuation was called off. Thanks in very large part to Michael Moore having a set of balls big enough to prove that there was no reason for people NOT to come and help. And people arrived, and some left, and some more came, and a large number have stayed longer than they expected.
Yesterday the Forest Park HUD Housing project held a protest and press release to address the forced eviction that property owners are pushing. It is unlawful, it is not even legal by HUD Standards. Funny how these rules are only for the convenience of the money bags. I was there, I can tell you it is a f______ sham that the Mayor of this city told residents to come home, and when they got here they were welcomed with an owner authorized eviction notice. Even the local courthouse can’t enforce this. I went in to the project managers office and asked if I could rent a place. Two women said they needed to restore it, no body can rent, and the people are leaving. I asked why the renovation was happening now, considering that Algiers never flooded? Why would you rennovate after a non flood, when the people were here to work and do it before? Sounds like an Insurance scam to me. They asked me if I was with the ACTIVISTS outside. Activists, I am white, they MUST have known I wasn't from the neighborhood. Categorized me. I said, "I am a relief worker looking for a place to sleep. I have been here six weeks and I need to find a home." They got upset with me and asked me to leave. They didn't know I am home, as a an activist and relief worker, as a member of the human race, as a citizen of the world, that this is common ground. I was standing with citizens of New Orleans who came home on the Mayors orders and got an eviction notice as the welcome home card. I am reminded of something I learned on the battlefield, we are all in this together. Algiers is the front line. Come feel it.
Gordon is the Chef here in Algiers at Common Ground http://www.commongroundrelief.org/
where Malik has a home that has passed down in his family. That is common, a lot of homes are owned by families that have been paid for and passed down. This makes it difficult to collect on insurance money, most people who ACTUALLY own their homes in this community don’t have the disposable income to pay for an overpriced insurance policy. That makes what we are doing so vital. It makes it so historic and rooted, because this is the way the world really works. It works together, not by some bank account that some company holds and releases funds as it finds fit. And believe me, while there is a rush to bring outside companies and outside workers, there is no rush to get money here to the people that are residing here. There is no rush to hire and employ the locals. There is a rush out of town by the federal agencies though. The photo op is over and in a number of places the agencies are leaving while the people are returning. As the people return they need to clean, and eat and so on, and of course the supply lines are not moving very fast.
The September 12th issue of Mother Jones, http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2005/09/katrina_evacuees.html
quotes me and expresses my idea of over a month ago. A supply line into Southern Louisiana. We made it. After being dislocated from Rita, we have settled in. The living proof is Gordon’s cooking. He can cook, Really. You may remember, Gordon was responsible for getting the technology together to reunite families, animals, and get people onto the FEMA site and start getting help. He has driven the bus, and on and on I can go, he is cooking now. The supply line is here, and we are still supporting from the back end. While Gordon cooks, I sweep. Common Ground has three tents pushing truck loads of supplies into every region we can get from here. There are tools and supplies for local residents to borrow and return.
I was able to work in musician community. I got to Craig Klein's home with Shiek and Bill Phillips who are a couple of fellows I have worked with on the Jazz Funeral For Democracy and the Summer Soulstice. Two very major anti war events that occured on inaugeration day and June 18th of the past year. I also walked the 8th ward during Marin Luter Kings Birthday weekend to celbrate his birthday this past year. You can read my article WHERE WERE YOU? In which some Christian theologians responded that segregation was cool, here:
Lisa Fithian is here testing water, soils and today I handed her a geiger counter to check for radiation. As you know I hate radiation because of my exposure to Depleted Uranium in 1991.
The Supply Line is Open, Please Come!
Tomorrow I will fly to New York to give three depleted uranium presentations and than to California for one. This battle is not over. Algiers sits next to a Naval Shipyard, just like Hunters Point, California which I have written about many times. It is toxic, just like Hunters Point, and if you read up on the two communities you will see incredible similarities.
I will be back to Algiers, where WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS. I hope when I get back you are here. The world needs you here, the broken system is not going to take care of the community, the culture nor the rehabilitation of an area that we (All three hundred million of us US residents) should have been attending to long before Katrina ever hit.
EVERYONE IS ACCOUNTABLE, kNOw excuses.
Common Ground can be found at 331 Atlantic Street, Algiers Point, just eight blocks from the Ferry to the French Quarter. There is a medical clinic that you can help at, there is also an incredible number of other things you can do. Don’t listen to the gate keepers who are saying that you can’t do anything. Listen to your heart, if you feel it thump, it is me telling you that this place can be helped. As my mama always told me, “You are either a help or a hindrance,” ask yourself, what are you doing to help. You can mail a box to Algiers or you can drive your truck here with bleech and a mop in it and give it away. You can spend an hour, a day, a week, I have spent a month and a half. Gordon and I are home, our supply line has made it to Southern Louisiana, and we hope you will come meet our new family.
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