When Paint is Not Enough
NBA All Star Weekend Comes to New Orleans
Last weekend the NBA All-Star Game came to
As NBA commissioner David Stern said in May 2006:"The award of NBA All-Star 2008 is our vote of confidence in the progress that is being made in the reopening and rebuilding of
There is no doubt that Stern & Co. were tickled green to do business in the new
As self-serving as it may have been, anytime players leave the athletic bubble -- their own mental Green Zone -- it is a positive step, especially when they speak out on the experience. "It's a great shame," Steve Nash said after seeing the other
Nash's friend Dirk Nowitzki, who was groomed to be an NBA player in
Nowitzki is right that it will take more than a coat of paint. This is obvious if you take a journey to the B.W. Cooper, C.J. Peete, Lafitte and St. Bernard housing projects. People should see them before they are swallowed whole by the most daring gentrification project this side of
These four "developments," which 4,500 families call home, are now set to be demolished and replaced by 800 condominiums. This, for all intents and purposes, will end low-income housing in the city. Many of these families haven't even been able to come back since the levees broke, unable to even speak out for their homes.
The demolition reflects a city undergoing a radical reconstruction. For the first time in two decades, the City Council has become somewhat paler. As The New York Times recently reported, "In one of the clearest signs yet of Hurricane Katrina's lasting demographic impact, the City Council is about to have a white majority for the first time in over two decades, pointing up again the storm's displacement of thousands of residents, mostly black."
Last December, at a City Council meeting where the politicians voted to destroy the projects, all the simmering rage boiled over. Hundreds gathered to give testimony and save their homes, but were locked out by police on orders from the Council. As they tried to force their way in, police broke out the pepper spray and Tasers. Then came the SWAT team. The lucky were arrested; others were sent to the hospital. No matter how well-reasoned the argument, a Taser tends to stop the dialogue.
Civil rights lawyer Bill Quigley, one of the many arrested, wrote later: "Some were Tasered, many pepper sprayed and a dozen arrested. Outside the chambers, iron gates were chained and padlocked even before the scheduled start. Only developers and those with special permission from council members were allowed in. Despite dozens of open seats in the council chambers, pleas to be allowed in were ignored. Chants of 'Housing is a human right!' and 'Let us in!' thundered through the concrete breezeway."
Last weekend thousands came to
Dave Zirin is the author of "Welcome to the Terrordome:" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Contact him at email@example.com. Comment on this article at www.edgeofsports.com