They say that what you do unto others will be done unto you. Now, trust me…I have compassion for the people currently effected by the oil spill. People are losing their livelihoods and some have lost their lives. However, I just have to say that I just see an irony in this mess. A very, very sad irony. Jefferson Parish officials refused to help people suffering during Katrina and now, parts of the parish are in need.
“And despite constant warnings from Jefferson Parish officials about oil approaching Grand Isle late last week, the boats needed to stop it weren’t around when they were needed. As a result, oil washed up on beaches and authorities in Jefferson “commandeered” shrimp boats from BP in order to get booms out to the passes near the island.” source
One of the most compelling during the Katrina disaster came from two white paramedics from San Francisco who were among those trapped in the city after the hurricane. They were turned away on a bridge by Jefferson Parish police:
“”The police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge to the south side of the Mississippi, where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the city…We organized ourselves, and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched past the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group, and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings, and quickly, our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, as did people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and other people in wheelchairs. We marched the two to three miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the bridge…
As we approached the bridge, armed sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and the commander’s assurances. The sheriffs informed us that there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move. We questioned why we couldn’t cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the six-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans, and there would be no Superdomes in their city…All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away—some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot. (Bradshaw and Slonsky 2005)”
When questioned about these incidents later, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff confirmed that his office closed the bridge, explaining that his Parish did not have the resources to care for thousands of needy people.” source
I wonder what the citizens of Jefferson Parish thought about the events on that bridge back then? I wonder what they think about the responsiblity of all of us to care for the needy now?