New Orleans is now reduced from 450,000 residents to about 150,000. Over 300,000 people – most of them African Americans, many of them poor – have been removed from New Orleans and dispersed to some 44 states across the country.
Those who have been dispersed have been given no right of return. Many are fighting to regain the properties, the homes, the apartments, the jobs that they once had.
New Orleans has gone from 2/3 African American to majority white. In these conditions, New Orleans faces the scheduled election of the Mayor and city officials on April 22. Now those who fought through the storm, survived FEMA’s catastrophic incompetence at relief and utter mismanagement of the recovery are about to have their voting rights stripped away.
The state of Louisiana and the Bush administration have refused to provide satellite voting places for those dispersed across the country. They have refused to provide an absentee ballot to every displaced registered voter. The state of Louisiana has been given the addresses of registered voters who have been displaced – the new voter roll – but incredibly has refused to make it available to the local candidates or election officials. They are planning on holding an election with a secreted voting roll in New Orleans.
The U.S. District Court of Louisiana has refused to postpone the election to reverse this injustice. Nagin won but the voting rights of 300,000 of Katrina’s survivors are about to be suppressed.