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Martial Law undeclared in New Orleans

WE INTERRUPT WITH BREAKING NEWS- New Orleans is under MARTIAL LAW. It’s a scoop! The Breaking News keeps announcing the anticipation of Hurricane Gustav, without explaining the images which speak the obvious. The National Guard have arrived, and they’re not carrying sandbags. The soldiers are sitting in parked Hummers, with assault rifles across their knees.

As if what undid New Orleans and Baghdad was the looting pursuant to Katrina and Shock and Awe. Hurricanes and floodwaters can demolish homes in the wrong neighborhoods. The homes on higher grounds have to fear the looters.

So a curfew has been announced, starting at 9PM tonight, with no set end time. Is that a curfew or Marital Law? If the power goes out, how are you supposed to learn when “curfew” has been lifted? If you’re found outside your property lines, you face arrest for ignoring the mandatory evacuation. You’ll be presumed to have intentions on your neighbor’s property.

The Mayor of New Orleans is warning that potential looters will be sent directly to Angola [Prison.] There will be no quarter, he appears to be saying, no temporary holding facility between court and sentence. You’ll go directly into the General [Prison] Population. Adding, “May God have mercy on you,” as if pronouncing the last rites on a condemned man.

Can he do that? Can they throw away the key on citizens innocent until proven guilty? Mayor Ray Nagin is speaking down to his constituents as if they are adolescents he can scare straight. But I’m sure the same TV audience which cheers when their Law and Order heroes smack down suspects who don’t confess, are loving these tough words of warning. Here’s a black man speaking as if he knows that his constituents 1. have no self respect, and 2. can’t wait to loot.

I see the same public desensitivity to excessive police presence, as became apparent at the DNC. We may stand aghast, but few question if it’s appropriate. Tons of cops, heavily armed, even pointing their guns at you. Unless you find yourself brutalized, it’s just added security. And so long as you don’t have a problem with whose rule of law is being enforced, who can argue with absolute power?

Perhaps security developments in New Orleans are not called Martial Law, because they’re closer to everyday law as we’re coming to see it.

Here are Mayor Nagin’s condescending words:

You need to be scared.
You need to be concerned.
And you need to get your butts movin’
Out of New Orleans. Right now.

That’s the scare tactic used to justify police crackdown. It makes me laugh.

And then finally,
I just talked to the Sherif and to the Police Chief,
I just want to send a strong message out to anybody
who’s thinking about lingering around
and becoming a looter.

Looting will not be tolerated.
We have doubled the police force,
Doubled the National Guard force
that we had for Katrina,
And looters will go directly to jail.

You will not get out -uh uh-
You will not get a pass this time.
As a matter of fact,
anybody who’s caught looting
in the City of New Orleans
Will go directly to Angola.
Directly to Angola.
You will not have
a temporary stay in the city.
You go directly to the Big House
In General Population.
Aight?
So I want to make sure that every looter,
Potential looter, understands that.
You will go directly to Angola Prison.
And God Bless You, when you go there.

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