A March to Gretna in protest of the actions of the Gretna police in the aftermath of Katrina and in support of displaced African-Americans from New Orleans, who continue to be denied access to participation and opportunity in the reconstruction process is planned for Monday, November 7.
"While we honor the heroic activism of Rosa Parks, we cannot celebrate the end to racism or injustice in this country," said Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus when announcing the March on the same day that the nation buried Rosa Parks.
According to organizers of the March, fifty years after a forty-two year old woman defied the denial of access to public transportation, African-Americans continue to be denied access - to the public roads and personal safety.
In the aftermath of Katrina, New Orleans authorities directed people to evacuate the city by crossing the Crescent City Connection Bridge which spans the Mississippi River linking New Orleans to the west bank city of Gretna. It's alleged that if you were black or in the company of blacks, armed Gretna police with guard dogs blocked you from evacuating New Orleans. Reportedly, under orders from Gretna Police Chief Arthur S. Lawson, the bridge was sealed off and evacuees denied safe passage when Gretna police officers fired shots in the direction of the crowds.
The March to Gretna, organized by the Hip Hop Caucus and UP (United Progressives) for Democracy, will commence with a rally at the New Orleans Convention Center. It is expected to attract Howard Dean, Chairman, Democratic National Committee; Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and Congressman John Conyers.
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) plans to introduce legislation calling for accountability. "We are outraged by the behavior of the Gretna authorities. Our legislation will challenge their actions, deny federal funds to the Gretna police for one year and seek justice for affected citizens of Louisiana," says McKinney.
The Hip Hop Caucus is also calling for a federal investigation of the events by the Justice Department.
"The leaders of a parish police department, a city police department, and bridge security collectively decided to block the sole escape route from Hell. One recommended by both the New Orleans Mayor and the New Orleans Police. Instead of meeting people who are sworn to protect and serve us, these citizens met armed vigilantes in one of the most racist encounters ever documented in America," states Yearwood.
Continuing he says, "Can you imagine during 9/11, the thousands who fled on foot to the Brooklyn Bridge, not because they wanted to go to Brooklyn, but because it was their only option? What if they had been met by six or eight police cars blocking the bridge, and cops fired warning shots to turn them back? Has Dr. King's Dream really become a Nightmare? It is time for America to stand up and hold the City of Gretna, and the police department accountable for their actions during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."
On November 7th, the hip-hop community and people from all walks of life will cross that bridge together. While evacuees from New Orleans were denied access to passage across the Crescent City Connection bridge- safety from the harrowing conditions of the Convention Center and a flooded city - now displaced poor African-Americans continue to be denied access to jobs, housing, government contracts and democratic participation in the Gulf Coast reconstruction.
The MARCH TO GRETNA is endorsed by Black Leadership Forum, Center for Social Justice, Cities for Progress/Institute for Policy Studies, Clergy & Laity Concerned About Iraq, Code Pink, ColorofChange.org, Common Ground, Community Labor United, Ella Baker Center for Civil Rights, Global Crisis Coalition, Global Exchange, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Healthcare NOW!, Hip Hop Caucus, Independent Progressive Politics Network, League of Pissed Off Voters, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, New Orleans Network, National Organization for Women, No Fear Coalition, People's Alliance for Community Empowerment, People's Hurricane Relief & Reconstruction Oversight Committee People's Institute for Survival & Beyond, Progressive Democrats of America, Project South, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, National Progressive Youth & Student Organization, Quality Education as a Human Right, Rebuild Green, Rebuilding Louisiana Coalition (NOLA), Rebuild Hope NOW, Saving Our Neighborhoods, Southwest Workers Union, TransAfrica Forum, United for Peace & Justice, United Houma Nation of Louisiana, Urban Heart, World Can't Wait.
Copyright 2005, Louisiana Weekly Publishing Company