Katrina: Criminal Negligence

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Open letter to President Bush: Today is a gray day in our land.  Now that the wind, rain and storm surges have passed, now that an untold number of Gulf Coast citizens are dead, dying, or recovering, now that the world is mobilizing on behalf of the victims of one of this country's worst natural disasters-I can write you this letter. The Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, where I'm privileged to serve as pastor, is the oldest African-American Baptist church in New York State and among the five oldest in the United States.  Our mission is to serve human beings and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, transform them into instruments of God's will and purpose.
Only God knows the true meaning of the past week of devastating death and destruction in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. God created humankind, male and female, in His image and He blessed them. All human beings are equal in God's sight. 

But, we with our sense of values and purpose have changed everything.  We have slipped into a "survival of the fittest" mentality that pervades all of our thinking, actions, and institutions.  Our way of thinking blocks us from nurturing each other as God's children.  And, ultimately, this leads us to leave Black, poor and powerless people to fend for themselves in a drowning city.

Those of us, especially public servants, who are privileged by gender, race and money, bear a special burden of service.  However we, through our arrogance, have taken our privilege as an indication of inherent superiority and, as a consequence, we've lost sight of our special responsibility to safeguard and serve those who are most vulnerable.  
Your expression of personal dissatisfaction with failures in (a) the protective infrastructure, (b) timely evacuation and (c) emergency backup procedures by the federal government-including Homeland Security, FEMA, and the White House-during this tragedy and national scandal would meet the approval of all patriotic Americans. It certainly would meet mine.

Racism, discrimination and other patterns of disparate treatment by the federal government-that originally delimited life chances among Blacks in our country-were evidenced by our founding fathers in the 3/5 Compromise of Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Today, these same patterns of abominable treatment still hold true throughout our society and, now, even engulf poor Whites, the elderly, the infirmed, immigrants and other unprotected segments of our population.

Fortunately, in 1979, responding to the debilitating fallout from these dark patterns, the United States Surgeon General-through Healthy People-set the government on a prudent course to: (1) help individuals of all ages increase life expectancy and improve their quality of life and (2) eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population. 

Americans may debate party politics, government policy and the efficacy of rescue procedures, but we should all present a united front in matters affecting the equality of opportunity for defenseless citizens trying to live a good life.  So, let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. 

It is in this spirit that I propose we treat the federal government's failure in preparedness, response and early results in the Gulf Coast disaster as criminally negligent behavior and bring to justice those public servants who looted the life chances of so many of our beloved citizens while they, themselves, remain unaccountably privileged.

Numbers of your fellow Americans are comparing and contrasting your rapid response in appointing Judge Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist even before Justice Rehnquist was funeralized. In stark contrast while people were drowning, were hungry, were thirsty, were homeless, were displaced, were dying and crying out for help in agonizing pictures that were seen all around the world, our government did not
respond in the same manner.

Two of the questions that a criminal investigation must answer is, "What did the Federal government do to prevent the break in the levees in New Orleans?" and "What was done in the critical days prior to and after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans?"  The whole world awaits your response. 

Send your Katrina commentary or articles for publication to Milton@blackstarnews.com For more reports please click on “subscribe� or call (212) 481-7745 to order the newsstand edition of The Black Star News the world’s favorite Pan African news weekly.

Jobs For Katrina Victims: The Black Documentary Collective would like to offer our help in finding a job and other assistance to the victims of the Gulf Coast natural disaster and resulting hardship due to the delayed rescue effort. If you are in need of employment, please list what type of job you are seeking and your qualifications for the position you seek. Please include your name and contact information. We would like to make this offer to as many people as possible. If you are able to put another friend or colleague in touch with us, please do so. Our newsletter goes out four times a year, but special e-mail blasts will be made more frequently in order to get the word out to as many as possible around the globe about your circumstance. Our thoughts are with you.  We look forward to hearing from you. The BLACK DOCUMENTARY COLLECTIVE.
www.bdcny.net E-mail: blkdoccol@bdcny.net

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