Displaced New Orleans community demands action and accountability


Community Labor United (CLU) initiates People’s Hurricane Fund by Curtis Muhammad and Becky Belcore of CLU

Not until the fifth day of the federal government’s inept and inadequate emergency response to the New Orleans’ disaster did George Bush even acknowledge it was ‘unacceptable.’ ‘Unacceptable’ doesn’t begin to describe the depth of the neglect, racism and classism shown to the people of New Orleans. The government’s actions and inactions were criminal. New Orleans, a city whose population is almost 70% percent black, 40% illiterate, and many are poor, was left day after day to drown, to starve and to die of disease and thirst.

The people of New Orleans will not go quietly into the night, scattering across this country to become homeless in countless other cities while federal relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos, hotels, chemical plants and the wealthy white districts of New Orleans like the French Quarter and the Garden District. We will not stand idly by while this disaster is used as an opportunity to replace our homes with newly built mansions and condos in a gentrified New Orleans.

Community Labor United (CLU), a coalition of the progressive organizations throughout New Orleans, has brought community members together for eight years to discuss socio-economic issues. We have been communicating with people from The Quality Education as a Civil Right Campaign, the Algebra Project, the Young People’s Project and the Louisiana Research Institute for Community Empowerment. We are preparing a press release and framing document that will be out as a draft later today for comments.

Here is what we are calling for:
• We are calling for all New Orleanians remaining in the city to be evacuated immediately.
• We are calling for information about where every evacuee was taken. We are calling for black and progressive leadership to come together to meet in Baton Rouge to initiate the formation of a Community Oversight Committee of evacuees from all the sites. This committee will demand a role in reviewing and influencing how resources collected on behalf of the people of New Orleans are allocated.
• We are calling for volunteers to enter the shelters where our people are and to assist parents with housing, food, water, health care and access to aid.
• We are calling for teachers and educators to carve out some time to come to evacuation sites and teach our children.
• We are calling for city schools and universities near evacuation sites to open their doors for our children to go to school.
• We are calling for health care workers and mental health workers to come to evacuation sites to volunteer.
• We are calling for lawyers to investigate the wrongful death of those who died, to protect the land of the displaced, to investigate whether the levies broke due to natural and other related matters.
• We are calling for evacuees from our community to actively participate in the rebuilding of New Orleans.
• We are calling for the addresses of all the relevant list serves and press contacts to send our information.

We are in the process of setting up a central command post in Jackson, MS, where we will have phone lines, fax, email and a web page to centralize information. We will need volunteers to staff this office.
We have set up a People’s Hurricane Fund that will be directed and administered by New Orleanian evacuees. In light of the generous volume of responses, we have moved to set up a fund with the Vanguard Public Foundation, which has a long history of social justice activism and also has the staff capacity to manage this level of effort.

Danny Glover, who was one of the original conveners of the first national meeting of the Quality Education as a Civil Right Campaign (QECR) at Howard University in March, 2005 and serves as the Honorary Chairperson of the QECR Coordinating Committee. Mr. Glover also is the co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Vanguard Public Foundation.

Please let everyone know that donations should be earmarked for the People's Hurricane Fund and checks made out to:

Vanguard Public Foundation
383 Rhode Island St., Ste 301
San Francisco, CA 94103

Go to this website for more information

Or write to Curtis Muhammad (muhammadcurtis@bellsouth.net) or Becky Belcore (bbelcore@hotmail.com).

Thank you.