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bobliocatt

Gretna accused by N.O. mayor of being racist

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New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has accused the city of Gretna of having racist motives in its decision to block the only route out of New Orleans with armed police and dogs, denying fleeing residents into that city. Gretna's police chief counters that his town feared for its safety from a flood of evacuees in a town with a high murder rate.

http://www.sptimes.com/2005/09/17/Worldand...town_deni.shtml

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New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has accused the city of Gretna of having racist motives in its decision to block the only route out of New Orleans with armed police and dogs, denying fleeing residents into that city.  Gretna's police chief counters that his town feared for its safety from a flood of evacuees in a town with a high murder rate.

http://www.sptimes.com/2005/09/17/Worldand...town_deni.shtml

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While the situation could have been handled better, I'm not sure I would characterize it as racist.

The westbank of Jefferson Parish--which is where Gretna is located--is 50% black. A number of Gretna cops are black. In fact, the cop who fired above the crowd waiting to board buses to an evacuation point in Metairie was black.

Here's some stats on the racial makeup of suburban cities on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish:

Gretna--9,832 white--6,109 black

Bridge City--3,527 white--4,116 black

Marrero--17,116 white--17,211 black

Westwego--8,315 white--2,011 black

Gretna isn't some slick white suburb. It's an integrated, not-so-well-off, old suburb from the early 1800's. But both blacks and whites there are frightened of "big bad New Orleans" which it's adjacent to.

Gretna itself had run out of food and water at its shelters, and were transporting the New Orleans people in buses to other evacuation points originally.

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Thanks Sleepy for bring some objectivity to the story, I was about to comment how disgracefule it was...

Nonetheless, I wonder what everyone thinks about Condeleeza Rice's comments regarding 'old south' bigotry that some have claimed is still a major prescence in Louisiana? Seriously, I have no intent to start a flame war, besides I live in Georgia & I'm from South Carolina, so I am no stranger to racial injustice. Nonetheless, my past experience have led me to belive there are some sharp racial divides in the New Orleans area, or would these be considered more socio-economic - there are also lots of poor whites too....

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The supposed racial divide in New Orleans is WAY overblown. It's more of a socioeconomic divide. People in New Orleans live in close quarters with all races. Living here my whole life, I've actually been pretty proud of my city in that regard. I have black friends, and you see the races mix more in New Orleans than almost any other city. Our race relations are fine... it's just that recently, this percieved problem has been exasperated by the politicization of the problem. It's all politics, believe me. Our current mayor, who is black, is seen as divisive by blacks in the city... but he enjoys 90% approval and support among the white population in New Orleans. Race politics and race-baiting ruled New Orleans politics for decades, and the election of Ray Nagin was seen as a welcome departure from this by most people in New Orleans. Recently, some black ministers who had strong political pull in past administrations saw their power slipping to a business oriented mayor less concerned with social programs, but social empowerment. They spent a lot of effort to drum up a race problem, and the mayor had no choice but to succumb to these pressures... and I think this is partly to blame for his hinting of racism in this particular case.

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The supposed racial divide in New Orleans is WAY overblown. It's more of a socioeconomic divide. People in New Orleans live in close quarters with all races. Living here my whole life, I've actually been pretty proud of my city in that regard. I have black friends, and you see the races mix more in New Orleans than almost any other city. Our race relations are fine... it's just that recently, this percieved problem has been exasperated by the politicization of the problem. It's all politics, believe me. Our current mayor, who is black, is seen as divisive by blacks in the city... but he enjoys 90% approval and support among the white population in New Orleans. Race politics and race-baiting ruled New Orleans politics for decades, and the election of Ray Nagin was seen as a welcome departure from this by most people in New Orleans. Recently, some black ministers who had strong political pull in past administrations saw their power slipping to a business oriented mayor less concerned with social programs, but social empowerment. They spent a lot of effort to drum up a race problem, and the mayor had no choice but to succumb to these pressures... and I think this is partly to blame for his hinting of racism in this particular case.

IMHO--while there is a good deal of social interaction between blacks and whites in New Orleans, I found it to be pretty racially divided.

You may be right that it's a class thing as well, but since the vast majority of poor people in New Orleans are black, I think race unfortunately plays a role in the sense of stereotyping and demonizing the poor there. If the majority of the poor were white, I don't think you would see that at play as much.

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