News and Quotes from Algiers for Sept. 14
Location: The Algiers community adjacent to downtown New Orleans, Louisiana
A MODEL FOR GETTING IT TOGETHER
The locally-led, mutually based community relief effort in Algiers is now being called Common Ground Algiers. Currently, more than 40 volunteer medics, doctors, cooks, communications technicians, community organizers and concerned people are directly involved in the Common Ground collective effort. Emergency services that have been created include a community garbage pick-up program; mobile kitchens to provide free hot meals to anyone in the area; a first aid clinic in a local mosque and a mobile first aid station staffed by doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians; and bicycles for volunteers and residents to transport aid around the area; and the development of a free school for children.
These efforts could serve as a community-based model for creating both emergency response and long-term infrastruture for people affected by the hurricane and who are in need of these kind of vital services. Donations can be sent to Common Ground, PO Box 3216, Gretna, LA 70054. Please pace your donations. Please no clothes or food.
MILITARY ROLE REVERSAL
In Algiers, the military has finally put down most of their M16 machine guns and are now helping with pick-up and debris collection. Keen observers noticed this community clean-up begun in advance of a visit to the Common Ground Emergency Wellness Center by Cindy Sheehan and following a blistering report by Amy Goodman and DemocracyNOW on the dead bodies that still can be found on the streets. Rangers from Ft. Bragg continued the clean-up today around town.
Cracker squads are groups of white supremacists who are using the slanderous media coverage and storm chaos to terrorize communities of color in Louisiana and Mississippi. One young woman in a Mississippi town relayed to us that a cracker squad had shot black men in the woods and threatened retaliation for those going public with the story. Similar stories have come in from Algiers, downtown New Orleans, and the outying parishes of Louisiana.
A related threat are the armed mercenaries of Black Water and other contractors who are patrolling downtown New Orleans. Internet reports indicate they have been particularly brutal in the handling of storm survivors.
THEY SAID IT: COMMON GROUND WELLNESS CENTER
You can't start a clinic here [the 9th Ward]. That would give people hope. My job is to make their lives as hopeless as possible so they will leave.
New Orleans Police Dept. officer berating relief workers in the 9th Ward
The Administration of this country needs to be put on trial for human rights violations and treason against the people of the gulf coast region; as well as negligent homicide for every person left in this region to die.
Noah, Emergency Medical Technician-B with the Common Ground Wellness Center, Algiers, New Orleans
Neighborhood folks find it alot more friendly to get their health care and healing from a community clinic with friendly faces rather than a militarized zone with soldiers toting M-16s. If the government got off their high chair, and worked with us grassroots relief people, we'd have health clinics all over the city. Believe me, we have the know-how to really help and we have the spirit of true compassion flowing here.
Michael Kozart, a doctor from San Francisco, CA volunteering in the Common Ground Wellness Center, Algiers, NOLA
Our number one national priority right now should be to clean up New Orleans and rebuild vulnerable areas in a safe and environmentally sound way. Then, every single evacuee must be offered the opportunity and the resouces to return to rebuild their neighborhoods in exactly the same way. We cannot allow evacuees to be forced into becoming refugees.
Roger Benham, Emergency Medical Technician-B with the Common Ground Wellness Center, Algiers, New Orleans
I'm a community organizer and medic who drove all the way here to Algiers/New Orleans from San Francisco with a caravan of people. On the way here a few of us questioned if we'll be useful and why we're using resources to come all this way. But after checking in with the locals and assessing the situation, volunteering in the clinic and such, I can see people from all over [the neighborhoods] will be healed for a very long time to come.
Dixie Block, an organizer/medic from San Francisco, CA volunteering in the Common Ground Wellness Center, Algiers, NOLA
It's not so much that the government is not responding [with storm relief], they are obstructing the response. They are telling us we can't bring people the basic necessities of life because that would give them hope. It is a question of oppression vs. mutual aid. That is the revolution.
Jesse, an organizer with MayDay DC volunteering in the Common Ground Wellness Center, Algiers, NOLA