Friday, July 21, 2006


ACLU: Release bridge investigation results

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the state attorney general to release the results of an investigation into a police roadblock on a major New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

In a letter to Attorney General Charles Foti, Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Joe Cook said the delay in reporting findings "makes no sense."

In late September, less than a month after Katrina hit, Foti said he would conduct a "fact-finding mission" into reports that New Orleans evacuees were blocked by several law enforcement agencies from entering neighboring Jefferson Parish by crossing the Crescent City Connection over the Mississippi River.

Witnesses have reported being turned away over a period of several days and threatened with warning shots on at least one occasion.

"It has now been eleven months since the incident occurred, and we do not have an answer from your office on the results of your investigation," Cook wrote in the letter dated Tuesday.

Foti could not be reached for comment Friday.

Officers from the Crescent City Connection's police force, the Gretna Police Department and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office blocked the bridge in the days after Katrina, preventing pedestrians from crossing.

Last year, Foti said his investigation had determined that officers fired three warning shots over pedestrians' heads.

Most of those trying to cross the river to were black, prompting criticism that race played a role. But authorities say that race was not a factor, conditions on their side of the river were unsafe and that emergency supplies were running out.

Law enforcement officials said they tried to bus many people to Metairie for medical aid, water and food. About 6,000 people were moved before fuel ran out, authorities said.

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