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Rebuilding After Katrina
O n December 10, International Human Rights Day, survivors of Hurricane Katrina together with hundreds of supporters took buses from Jackson, Mississippi and nearby states to a rally in New Orleans. A two-mile long march began at Congo Square, with a jazz music march to City Hall to present a Declaration of the People to Mayor Nagin, declaring, “New Orleans hurricane survivors want to return to their homes.”
The Hurricane Katrina assembly and rally was organized by the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition (PHRF), a New Orleans and Gulf South umbrella coalition. Their message is “From outrage to action, the people must decide.”
Three months after the hurricane many poor black, Asian, indigenous
American, and white survivors are still out of jobs, building contracts,
and other aspects of the city’s rebuilding. Some estimate that
over 100,000 immigrants— many of them undocumented—have
been directly affected by Hurricane Katrina in the southern states.
Before the hurricane, they worked at sweatshop jobs across the city;
after the flooding, they fled the city with no chance of receiving
any federal assistance because of their immigration status. Several
were arrested by immigration officials for deportation because they
asked for government assistance. Though some of them were re-hired
by private contractors to help rebuild the city, in several cases,
they were cheated of their pay after the work was done.
With FEMA cutting Katrina survivors’ hotel vouchers in early January 2006, activist collectives like Common Ground and Community Labor United have built support centers to offer food and legal aid to returning hurricane survivors and the ACLU of Louisiana and Mississippi is considering complaints of constitutional violations from hurricane victims. With the need for long-term humanitarian operations in the Gulf region, the PHRF decided to call an emergency conference to discuss how to build a long-term nationally coordinated effort to support the victims. The one-day December 9 assembly in Jackson, Mississippi (210 miles north of New Orleans) attracted 400 activists from across the country—including approximately 150 hurricane survivors—to strategize how displaced people could rebuild their communities and how supporters could help.
Throughout the assembly and rally, everyone agreed that the key issue for post-Katrina recovery was helping survivors find permanent housing. After the assembly, the survivors presented the following list of demands to New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the U.S. government:
- Local, state and federal governments must make conditions possible for our immediate return.
- The government must provide funds for all families to be reunited, and the databases of FEMA, the Red Cross, and any organizations tracking our people must be made public.
- There must be open, public accountability for and oversight of the over $50 billion FEMA funds and the money raised by other organizations, foundations, and funds in our name.
- Survivors must have representation on all boards that are making decisions about relief and reconstruction. Those most affected by Hurricane Katrina must be present in every stage of the planning process.
- No commercial Mardi Gras will take place until the suffering of the people is lifted.
- Nationwide local support groups to help survivors with long-term needs.
- Counseling services for youth survivors.
- A community tribunal to hold the government accountable for the disaster.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.