Crime or Survival?

Friday, September 02, 2005 | 0 Comments

I was reading some of the news stories on the internet trying to get some information on Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Many of the articles were talking about the widespread crime that has broken out among the people that are still waiting to get out or get help. The mayor of New Orleans was lecturing about how shameful it all was. The only crime that didn't make sense to me were the reports of rape. But looting?

These people have NOTHING!! There is not enough aid coming in to take care of all of them. I think at this point looting should NOT be immediately considered a crime or shameful. They are most likely just trying to get things to take care of themselves. Why should they have to wait days more while there might be things that they can survive on right beyond a wall or a window?

I think it is shameful to shake fingers at these people and call them criminals when they might just be trying to feed their family, get clothes, or obtain medical equipment. Yes, these people are PISSED! And they have every right to be. They do not have help, they are being called criminals, they are being chastised for not leaving sooner like other people.

Most of those that were left behind did not have the resources to get out. How do you leave if you don't have a car or money to put gas in the tank? And if you do leave, where are you going to go? Do you risk everything to leave when you don't even know what the storm will do?

This morning on the news a reporter went into the crowd to find out what is going on with the people. They said that they had been two or three days without food. Those that had gotten food had only been able to get it from looting. Many are in need of medical care. They were promised buses, but the buses just keep driving past them. The only form of medical care that they have been able to get is from looting materials and caring for themselves.

The governor of Louisiana was just on saying that all these criminals are taking the focus from the task at hand. She implied that they were all dilusional druggies. I think that is a harsh assessment of these people. They are in a dire situation. They are extremely stressed. They want to survive. All these things will bring out our basic instincts. They should be helped, not blamed.


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Blogger Spencer said...

Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

September 02, 2005 8:32 AM

Blogger Dr. Who said...

Looting to get clothes - OK
Looting to get medicine - OK
Looting to get food - More than just OK

but... looting for CDs, electronics etc? NOT OK! I remember I heard it on the news yesterday. People were caught with some dozens of stolen CDs. Do you think they would sell them for food? Then okay...

September 02, 2005 8:41 AM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Thanks Spencer!

Dr.Who, there are most likely some that are looting for things other than necessities, but to state things in a way that make ALL LOOTING sound like high crime is just wrong. And that was exactly what I heard several times on the news last night and this morning on TV, and on the internet news sources.

September 02, 2005 9:49 AM

Blogger Sandy said...

From the news we are getting here, I understand that it's not the looting of food and clothing that they are worried about as much as it is the guns and such. They are shooting at the rescuers. Canada has sent search and rescue people but haven't been able to help because it has been to dangerous for them. What kind of idiots shot at police,fireman and rescue people! I understand they are freaked out but come on. And now reports of rape! If the response had been quicker I think it would have gone alot smoother. I am appalled at the time it is taking to help these poor people.

September 02, 2005 10:30 AM

Blogger DrMax said...

I think all these officials who are lecturing people on their behavior and who are mainly responsible for the conditions these people find themselves in, should have to spend a night in the Superdome. Just for perspective.

I reserve my only outrage for any thugs who are shooting at rescue workers (seriously, I understand anger, but that just makes no sense) or who are harming others.

Other than that, businesses, consider these as contributions in a time of crisis. It wouldn't be happening if there had been some plan in place to address this horrible situation.

September 02, 2005 10:49 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

I think a majority of looters are trying to get food, etc. And from what I've seen on cnn (as much as we can trust cnn)is that some of the looting was with police oversight. This I can understand... who here wouldn't loot a grocery store or allow a woman walk out with baby formula?

But the sniperfire when evacuating a hospital? The carjacking of a medical supply van? I hadn't even heard of the rape yet, omg. Who the fuck are these people and, as humanitarian as I am, I really think radical action should be taken against them.

Have the national guard "oversee" looting of grocery stores (you know what I mean)? Have them shoot the rapists, carjackers, and snipers.

September 02, 2005 11:40 AM

Blogger evilsciencechick said...

well, the people shooting at the helicopters are the ones who should be stopped.

taking food and medicine out of a store in order to survive is not looting.

taking TVs and computers out of store because you can IS looting... and also idiotic.

September 02, 2005 12:06 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Sandy, shooting at the rescuers? That's just insane!

DrMax, it's uncanny how we always seem to be on the same page. It is so easy for people to say what is proper and what is not when they are not in that experience themselves.

Shannon, I haven't heard much of these other crazy things, but I knew that they were happening. I think your idea for looting is good, but I personally think that there is just way too much focus on looting and not enough on helping these poor, stranded people out of this insanity.

ESC, I was trying really hard to think about why anyone would expend such effort to loot things like TVs when they don't have electricity, a home, or someone to sell it to to get money. Couldn't think of anything. It really is idiotic.

September 02, 2005 12:25 PM

Blogger The Doc said...

There's always a fine line to be drawn in times like these, and some people just can't figure out where it's supposed to go. I know that if I was there, I'd be taking any bread, medicine, and non-perishables I could find.

This relates to something interesting I found during my trawls yesterday: someone from Metafilter found some extremely racist photo-captions about the looters / finders that you all might like to see.

September 02, 2005 12:37 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Thank you for that interesting link, Doc! I think I will post those photo-captions here. I think so many people just don't realize how subtle racism can be. THAT was a very good example!

September 02, 2005 1:10 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Oh, I forgot to say this. They did some adjusting of the news stories due to complaints about the difference in descriptions being objectionable.They removed the white people "foraging" picture, but kept the black people "looting" pictures. How interesting.

September 02, 2005 1:14 PM

Blogger Scott said...

At the risk of sounding incredibly insensitive, I'm not really buying the whole racist looting/finding thing yet. I've only seen 1 (one) picture of White people where what they were doing was described as "finding". And as it's the photographers that write the captions generally, you can't compare what one photog wrote to what another wrote. The same guy that took the whit picture may have written "finding" on all his pictures of looters.
I'm not saying hte media isn't racist - just that this isn't proof of anything. Unless there's a pattern here - more than 1 picture of White finders, for example - how can you condemn an entire industry?

September 02, 2005 2:58 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

You are right, Scott. This doesn't prove that the photographers were racist. But it is a good example of how racism can creep in without being very noticeable. If we get enough of these messages, then we might subconsciously equate one race with certain messages while we equate another race with quite different messages.

I am not even implying that this was intentional. Many people do things like that without even realizing it and the implications of it. I think that is a huge reason why many people think that racism is not a problem anymore. Those would be mostly white people, of course. Just like it is mostly men who think there isn't a problem with sexism anymore.

Here's a question. Why did they remove the white picture when people complained? They could have removed the black pictures. They could have changed the wording like CNN did. Why did they just remove it and only that one?

September 02, 2005 4:07 PM

Blogger Sandy said...

Another thing I just heard was police officers in New Orleans handing over their badges. Having already lost their homes etc. they aren't interested in losing their lives to people shooting at them. Insanity!

September 02, 2005 4:07 PM

Blogger Maria said...

It's heartbreaking reading the paper and watching the news. And when I heard that people were being raped, I thought, who could possibly think about sex at at time like this? It's horrifying.

September 02, 2005 4:09 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Oh yeah, Sandy, I heard that too. It must begetting really tough down there. Most police officers just don't have that kind of crisis training to deal with things like this.

Maria, I know. That was what I was thinking!

September 02, 2005 4:21 PM

Blogger Shannon said...

Wow, I hadn't heard about the police quitting. This is all so tragic. I just learned two of my friends are driving out to Mississippi to help out a family member who lost everything.

I feel so helpless. I wish there was something I could do...

September 03, 2005 11:45 AM

Blogger Shannon said...

besides give money.

September 03, 2005 11:46 AM

Blogger Indigo Red said...

I can understand most of the looting, the food and meds for instance. The guy who looted Pampers, baby food, and water then wrote it all down so he could pay later is OK by me.

How big screen plasma televisions are going to help in ones survival without electricity is beyond me. Maybe they have looted a generator and gasoline. I can see that. Yeah.

September 03, 2005 10:00 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Shannon, what they really need down there is someone to take charge a be a real leader. It has gotten so bad because there aren't enough people either willing or able to step up and take charge.

Indigo Red, for people who have nothing for all their lives and now are faced with something possibly even worse, it is hard not to indulge, even in idiocy, to try in some way to make lemonade.

September 05, 2005 3:54 PM

Blogger Randi said...

well not everyone is looting...didnt you hear its just the blacks...the whites are just trying to survive.... (not trying to start anything, just mocking the media)

September 06, 2005 3:41 PM

Blogger Sylvana said...

Randi- Doc sent us the Yahoo slide thingy with the "finding" vs "looting". SSB found another example in this weeks issue of Newsweek that I'm going to post as soon as I can get my hands on a flatbed scanner.

September 06, 2005 6:54 PM