WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders strongly condemned the actions of New Orleans police against protesters who opposed the New Orleans City Council’s vote to demolish public housing.
Police used pepper spray and extremely dangerous stun guns against those attempting to enter Council chamber on Thursday, December 20. The Council is acting in cooperation with plans by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to replace the public housing units with new mixed-income housing, which would result in the eviction of tenants, nearly all of them African American, from their homes without any further plan to house most of them.
“By choosing to destroy existing structures instead of renovating them for the current residents, Council surrendered to a long-range effort to displace New Orleans’ working class African American population,” said Alfred Molison, , co-chair of the Green Party’s Black Caucus and a Texas Green. “New Orleans politicians are cooperating with the Bush Administration’s plan to exploit the Katrina disaster in order to reduce drastically the amount of low-cost housing in the city.”
The vote eliminates 4,500 apartments in the city’s four biggest public housing projects. Opponents of the demolition, including the Coalition to Stop the Demolition, have documented how past redevelopment efforts in the wake of Katrina have excluded public housing and other low-income residents. The Coalition has called for national support for public housing residents and the protesters.
“Despite promises from Council members, the result of the demolition will not be improved public housing for poor black people in New Orleans, but enforced homelessness and removal from a city they have a right to live in,” said Nan Garrett, Co-Chair, National Women’s Caucus of the Green Party of the United States . “The vote was a giveaway to powerful developers favored by the White House, and who stand to make a killing from Hurricane Katrina’s effect on New Orleans infrastructure. The actions of the police against protesters — many of whom have been denied return to their homes in the past two years — are consistent with the atrocious racist and classist treatment of New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Katrina.”
“We encourage candidates for President and other public office to speak out in defense of public housing residents and others threatened with removal because of corporate-friendly redevelopment plans in New Orleans,” added Ms. Garrett. “What’s going on in New Orleans is an accelerated version of what has been happening in cities across the US.”
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