Monday, September 12, 2005

Bush Team Conspired Against Blacks, Activists Charge

Senility rears its ugly head.

By Nathan Burchfiel Correspondent

( - Several black civil rights leaders are accusing the federal government of conspiring against poor African Americans in the aftermath of the flooding in New Orleans. But one of those hurling the charges, comedian and political activist Dick Gregory, on Friday refused to say what, if anything, he has personally contributed to the relief effort.

Gregory, who had just visited evacuees at the Houston Astrodome and the city's convention center, said he was able offer the flood victims something else besides money and food.

"I'm a hero in America, so just to go there and touch them, means a lot to them. [That] means more than taking them to the Red Cross and giving them food," Gregory told Cybercast News Service. Gregory did not reply to the question about whether he had made a personal donation.

Earlier, Gregory participated in a rally in front of the White House with leaders of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) and Black Voices for Peace. They charged that the Bush administration delayed rescue efforts of the flood victims because of racism and class-ism.

The Network's co-chair Donele Edwards laid the specific blame at the doorstep of the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps, she charged, "deliberately designed the floodwaters to go into the 9th Ward," of New Orleans.

Damu Smith, founder of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, added that "whether they (the federal government) got in a room and conspired or not, what they did is they ignored us, they forgot about us ... because we look like we look." As he was speaking, Smith held out his arm to show his skin color.

New Orleans' mayor, Ray Nagin, who is African American, should bear little responsibility for the city's flooding, Smith said. "I think Mayor Nagin has done everything he could. He's cried out, but I really think the governor, and Bush especially, they really dropped the ball on this," according to Smith. Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco is white.

"There's been some mistakes made by folks in the mayor's office, too," Smith said. "But the most of the blame must be laid at the doorstep of Bush and Governor Blanco."

Smith said he had personally contributed "a lot" to aid in the recovery efforts. "I have friends who lost their homes and lost everything and they've been displaced so this is very personal to me to help out so we gotta do it."

He encouraged people to donate to small organizations instead of the American Red Cross. "You see, the Red Cross is getting all the money - about $500 million - but there are groups in Houston and other places that are struggling, that are helping people," Smith said. "They don't get the money, so we're gonna make sure the money gets channeled to them as well."

Gregory intensified Edwards' conspiracy charges, accusing the government of orchestrating the evacuation to access oil under the city.

"It (Hurricane Katrina) didn't hit, it went down the Gulf," Gregory said. "And nobody is asking, if it missed, where's this damn water coming from? Who shut them pumps off and who's going to investigate those two barges with dynamite on them that hit that levee," he said in reference to the failure of the city's levees and water pumps, which were intended to protect the city from flooding.

Gregory said the government has no plans to let residents back into New Orleans or to rebuild the city. "They will have no problem declaring that whole city a disaster area because of the mold," he said.

"Last Friday he (U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert) said there's no need to rebuild it, plow it under," Gregory said, exaggerating the comments Hastert made immediately after the city was flooded. "Well that's what they're planning on doing," Gregory added.

If his accusations are correct, Gregory told Cybercast News Service, it will create a backlash beyond just the black community. "If they found oil under there and they're going to turn it into an oil well," Gregory said, "that's black and white folks."

In time, as people stop reacting based on emotion, Gregory concluded, "It's gonna come out. There's been too many mistakes."


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