[lbo-talk] New Orleans Police end occupation of St Bernard Houses

Chuck chuck at mutualaid.org
Wed Jan 31 21:48:53 PST 2007

Several updates follow.

Bork is one of my best friends. She has some experience being woken in the middle of the night by SWAT teams, but I doubt that this kind of police terrorism ever gets easier.



New Orleans Police end occupation of St Bernard Houses

By Eric Laursen Infoshop News January 31, 2007

New Orleans - Housing activists who have occupied a portion of New Orleans' St. Bernard Housing Project were arrested this morning by city police after almost two weeks protesting, by their presence, the scheduled demolition of the buildings. Community activists have been alarmed that the city as well as the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development have chosen to destroy projects that house thousands of people, including the St. Bernard, Lafitte, BW Cooper, and CJ Peete houses.

"It's a shame that the Housing Authority of New Orleans [HANO] is more interested in taking action against people trying to preserve affordable housing than in providing affordable housing," said Jamie "Bork" Laughner of the group Mayday NOLA, as she was arrested.

Mayday NOLA members say they occupied the St. Bernard houses after being requested to do so by residents of St. Bernard and other public housing projects. At the time, they declared that they intended to continue occupying the project until the scheduled demolitions were permanently canceled or the lease-holding residents satisfied with new housing arrangements.

Activists have criticized HANO, the mayor, and federal authorities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for rushing to demolish public housing, much of which is still sound, in an evident effort to promote the plans of wealthy developers and with little regard for the urgent needs and preferences of the inhabitants.

# # # # #

NOPD SWAT team ends occupation of St. Bernard

New Orleans Independent Media Center

At 2:30 am on January 31, NOPD SWAT members team raided the St. Bernard housing complex in an effort to flush out individuals occupying the community center as part of an ongoing campaign to reopen public housing in New Orleans. Two individuals were taken from the site and arrested.

Legal observers were denied access to the scene by SWAT team members wielding automatic weapons, and there are reports that supporters of the public housing advocates were turned away at gunpoint when they attempted to approach the housing complex.

Judge Hunter has ordered their release

update 1:30 PM: both activists have been released from central lockup.

Democracy Now story (includes interview of Bork from jail) http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/31/1543227


Protesters squatting in St. Bernard development ejected by SWAT team By Gwen Filosa

The Times-Picayune Staff writer

New Orleans police, complete with a SWAT team, raided a boarded-up section of the St. Bernard public housing complex in the early hours of Wednesday, flushing out two activists who had apparently been living there for two weeks despite the government’s shuttering of the flood-damaged site.

Jamie Loughner and Curtis Rumrill were arrested, according to Adonis Expose, spokesman for the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

Neither of the pair have ever lived in public housing in Orleans Parish, Expose said. Rather, they are part of a group of self-styled activists who decided to "reoccupy" the battered brick buildings on Jan. 15, protesting a lack of housing for the poor since the flood.

Dozens of residents joined in the protest, reclaiming their former apartments and scrubbing them out. In the process, activists tore down stretches of a chain-link, razor-wire topped fence that HANO installed last year.

HANO called it trespassing and vandalism and asked NOPD to remove anyone still holed up in the complex, which has no utilities.

"They had been there two weeks on the third floor, behind a boarded up window," said Expose. "They put up obstacles so the police couldn't get in."

Last June, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would demolish four of the city's largest public housing complexes in the wake of Katrina, including the St. Bernard. A federal lawsuit, filed by public housing, claims the decision violates tenants’ civil rights.

The St. Bernard, in the city's 7th Ward, has sat abandoned and closed since the 2005 levee failures forced residents to flee New Orleans.

HANO maintains it has relocated its tenants and does not want to return them to "obsolete" neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty.

As for the boarded up complexes, which include Lafitte, C.J. Peete and parts of B.W. Cooper, HANO has - since the storm - set appointments with families who want to reclaim their things.

"We continue to work with residents who want their belongings," Expose said.

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