The Projects: Qui Bono?
Written by Editors
Sunday, 23 December 2007 12:22
|The Projects: Qui Bono?|
We were as amazed as anyone else when WDSU's own Travers Mackel appeared on MSNBC Wednesday morning, reporting to a national audience that all hell had broken loose at New Orleans City Hall. Mackel, who was on the right side of the fence, failed to account for the number of protesters, but the work of his cameraman was exciting as hell. Travers was certainly excited, as you can tell by Travers' tone in the following video.
So much you can learn from an hour and a half. More than anything else, the general excitement that public housing arouses is in itself worth note. So far all the Democratic candidates have issued statements of opposition, Brad Pitt has weighed in, and from within the public housing community itself, there is dissent.
Ultimately, as in all cases, you've got to ask Qui Bono? And among all these characters, you know someone is getting ahead somehow. We've provided some annotations, links, and amendments to the Times-Picayune's up-to-the-minute coverage from 9:50-10:30, Wednesday, 12.19.
9:50 a.m.: Some offended by security measures
The council chambers remains relatively quiet, as dozens of people are lined up outside to go through security. Backpacks aren't allowed, officers tell visitors. Protest signs are, but not any sticks they may be affixed to.
Some activists are offended by the security measures.
"They know when they're about to do something evil, they've got to protect themselves from the citizenry," said Endesha Jukali [sic], an activist opposed to demolition.
10:05 a.m.: Less than 300 allowed in chamber
City Hall closes off the entrance, with civil deputies saying the seating capacity is only 278 inside the council chamber.
A few people angrily protest. "They're changing the rules!" Jay Arena shouts out, drawing a deputy to order him to sit down. A few others rise to protest. "I"m tired of being walked on," a woman with an infant says.
"I'm not a slave," another woman says. "How you going to tell me to sit down."
10:15 a.m.: Audience told they must take a seat, tempers flare
The meeting hasn't started yet. Council members haven't entered the chamber.
Civil sheriff's deputies continue to try and keep order, telling the people inside that they may not stand during the meeting and that everyone must have a seat. Tempers flare in one section of the chamber.
"You're a racist white man," Sharon Sears Jasper, a former St. Bernard complex resident shouts at a man seated behind her.**
"Ma'am, the color of my skin isn't the issue," the man replies.
"Stop the demolition! Stop the demolition!" several people start chanting.
**Editor's Note: Unfortunately for the anti-demolition protesters, Ms. Jasper is a bit of a PR gaff. She was recently featured in a Times-Pic article regarding the public housing conflict and was photographed in her apartment. The prominently featured 60-inch television has provided ample opportunity to exploit the "welfare mother" fallacy. Proof this city is in a state of race turmoil? Check out the conservative blogs or take a look at the comments on nola.com.
10:22 a.m.: Both sides wait for meeting to start, words exchanged
"I'm for the demolition and rebuilding," says John Ales, 42, a cook who lives in Mid-City. He is the man seated behind Sharon Sears Jasper, who minutes earlier had called him a "racist white man."
Meanwhile, the council members have yet to enter the chamber. A man is shouting in front of a bevy of video cameras about the homeless problem and how he is from public housing. "All of us are getting screwed,**" he shouts.
**Editor's Note: this is the truest statement of the whole affair.
10:30 a.m.:Lawyer criticizes council for limiting audience
Attorney Tracie Washington accused officials of changing the rules for the public housing crowd.
"That's retarded," Washington says to Peggy Lewis, clerk of council. "You have to let these people in. You've got 800,000 police here. Ain't nobody going to do anything in here."
Washington is President & CEO of the Louisiana Justice Institute
Tracie Washington on Democracy Now!
Click here for an interview with Tracie Washington on Colorlines.com
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