Friday, September 16, 2005


Gretna City Council Passes Resolution

From Dailykos:

Fri Sep 16th, 2005 at 07:31:17 PDT

Have the citizens of Gretna, Louisiana had second thoughts about their police chief's decision to block the bridge to fleeing New Orleans evacuees?

Apparently not. In fact, the Gretna City Council has passed a resolution in support of the chief's action.

"This wasn't just one man's decision," Mayor Ronnie C. Harris said Thursday. "The whole community backs it."

More after the jump.

Excerpts from the LA Times story

Paul Ribaul, 37, a New Orleans TV-station engineer from Gretna, said New Orleans and the suburbs have a complicated relationship.

"We say we're from New Orleans, but we're a suburb," he said. "The reason we don't live there is we don't like the crime, the politics."

Ribaul was among Gretna residents who praised the decision to close the bridge. "It makes you feel safe to live in a city like that," he said.

Initially, Gretna officials allowed some evacuees into town and tried to help them.

Itself deprived of power, water and food for days after Katrina struck Aug. 29, Gretna suddenly became the destination for thousands of people fleeing New Orleans. The smaller town bused more than 5,000 of the newcomers to an impromptu food distribution center miles away. As New Orleans residents continued to spill into Gretna, tensions rose.

The turning point came when the local mall caught on fire, an event that was blamed on the evacuees.

Mayor Harris had had enough. He called the state police.

"I said: 'There will be bloodshed on the west bank if this continues,' " Harris recalled. " 'This is not Gretna. I am not going to give up our community!' "

The following morning, Gretna's police chief made his decision: Seal the bridge.

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