The Causeway Concentration Camp
On Democracy Now Again via lecolonelchabert
AMY GOODMAN: We return to the House Select Committee Hearing on the role of race and class in response to Hurricane Katrina. This is New Orleans community leader, Leah Hodges, testifying.
DYAN FRENCH: Rita, Katrina, and all of the aftermath, if we are not going to sit here and be honest about the racism --
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Right. That's right. It don’t make no sense.
DYAN FRENCH: -- that was perpetrated, then I have really, truly wasted my time coming here.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Me, too. And I missed a day's work.
DYAN FRENCH: And I really don't want nobody to get confused. At 60, I just don't want to call you the names that we were called. We have documentation. We don’t have to sit in this room. I invite all of you to please come to New Orleans. The proof is there, the proof of what happened. Our little mayor -- and he may get offended, I don't care. He who knows that and not that he knows not, that's how he got caught up. You can’t get surrounding parishes to put your disaster plan together. Most of his top staff -- and I have been appointed on most of my jobs with the city --are people who don't live in the parish. They live in the surrounding parishes. And that's what happened to us on the day of. Rightfully so, the police who didn't live there stayed home and took care of their people.
REP. JEFF MILLER: May I ask you --
DYAN FRENCH: But they had no business working for the city, because there's a law – or ordinance that says you can’t.
REP. JEFF MILLER: May I ask you a question? You mention -- you talked about the parishes. And this is something that I have heard people talk about. Is it true that some parishes are refusing to allow temporary housing of certain peoples within their parishes?
LEAH HODGES: Very true. Very true. Particularly true of [inaudible] and Jefferson Parish. Jefferson Parish is where the Causeway concentration camp was housed, where we experienced the Gestapo-type oppression, as opposed to being rescued. We were three minutes away from the airport. They could have taken us to the airport. Those military vehicles could have taken us to any dry, safe city in America. Instead, they dumped us at a dumping ground, sealed us in there, and they backed up all their authority with military M-16s.
And there were thousands and thousands of people. On the last day we were in there -- and let me tell you something -- they hand-picked the white people to ride out first. Yes, racism was very much involved. They hand-picked the white people to ride out first. Every day, the crowd got darker and darker and darker until finally there were only – there were 95% people of color in that place.
REP. JEFF MILLER: Miss Hodges, would you be offended if I respectfully asked you not to call the Causeway area a concentration camp?
LEAH HODGES: I am going to call it what it is. If I put a dress on a pig, a pig is still a pig.
REP. JEFF MILLER: Are you familiar with the history?
LEAH HODGES: Yes, sir, I am. And that is the only thing I could compare what we went through to: a concentration camp.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And that's the truth.
LEAH HODGES: And everybody in the place with me, the lady sitting next to me was there, my mother was there, my younger brother was there, my two sisters; we ran into others. That is the point, that they broke up families and dispersed us.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's right.
LEAH HODGES: And they stood over us with guns and enforced their authority, and yes, they tortured us. And then they used various forms of torture. And yes, I know what a concentration camp is. I'm a college-educated woman.
REP. JEFF MILLER: Not a single --
LEAH HODGES: And I love the study of history.
REP. JEFF MILLER: Not a single person was marched into a gas chamber and killed.
LEAH HODGES: They died from abject neglect. We left body bags behind. Pregnant women lost their babies.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's one of the reasons why some of these people wouldn't come out of those houses, because you was told to come on the street, and when people came out –
LEAH HODGES: They were shot
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: -- they were killed.
REP. TOM DAVIS: Excuse me, Mr. Miller has another minute left.
REP. JEFF MILLER: I should have more time than that, sir.
REP. TOM DAVIS: Go ahead.
REP. JEFF MILLER: Thank you. I respectfully request that you not call it the Causeway concentration camp.
LEAH HODGES: Respectfully, sir --more.