Last friday, three officers were finally indicted by a federal grand jury for the post-katrina murder of Henry Glover, and the ensuing 5 year cover up.
The Murder of Henry Glover:
Henry Glover and his fiance Rolanda Short were residents of New Orleans 4th District when hurricane Katrina struck.
Like many African-Americans in New Orleans, Henry and his family were stranded without any supplies, and with no sign of help.
On the morning of September 2nd, running low on provisions, Henry had taken it upon himself to forage his neighborhood for food, water and charcoal for the couple’s extended family, now staying with them in their small home.
But Henry would not be able to complete the errand. While he was out looking to feed his family, Henry Glover was shot through the chest by David Warren, a New Orleans police officer on the prowl for looters in the city’s 4th district.
On the day of his death, Rolanda recalls hearing shouts in the street. Friends yelled to her that Henry had been shot by the police, and she ran outside to find her fiancée lying motionless on the street, covered in blood.
As she held his hand, two officers arrived (possibly Warren and his partner) and ordered her away from the body. When she refused, they got back in the car and left him there to die.What happened next is perhaps even more disturbing.
Glover was picked up only a little while later by a fellow worker who happened to be out looking for gasoline. He and his brother were then given a ride to find help; but the closest hospital, West Jefferson Medical Center, was too much of a risk to try and reach.
Instead, the four men drove to a local school where the NOPD’s SWAT had set up a base of operations.
But upon approaching the school, the men were immediately put in handcuffs by officers. The wounded Glover was then left in the truck, without medical attention, as the other men were interrogated.
During the course of this “interrogation,” the officers concluded that the four men were looters, and began to beat them. Although as many as a dozen police were witness to the beating, no one intervened or reported the incident.Meanwhile, Henry Glover was driven away in the white pickup truck by a policeman.
Days later, the truck was found burnt to a crisp, with glovers charred remains in the back seat.
Unfortunately, this is by no means an isolated incident. Henry Glover’s story would tragically be repeated many times across the whole of New Orleans.
Lessons from Katrina:
Shortly after the hurricane, life in New Orleans was characterized by two themes: a viciously racist white population, and an equally violent protection of private property.
Hurricane Katrina was a practical demonstration of our governments top priorities.
When push came to shove, they prefered to defend the businessman’s right to property over the working persons right to survival.
And defend it they did – with extreme measures.
Former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, with the full support of both Former President George Bush and Mayor Ray Nagin, gave the authorization for national guards troops to shoot and kill people she called “hoodlums” – namely, the poor, black inhabitants of the cities ghetto’s.
“These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well-trained, experienced, battle-tested and under my orders to restore order in the streets,” Gov. Blanco said.
“They have M-16’s and they are locked and loaded.
“These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.”
Although thousands were left stranded without water, without shelter, without food or medicine, among the first orders issued by government officials was to quell looting – to defend private property.
But to protect themselves and their families, people had no choice. In order to survive, the city’s workers had to pit themselves against both businessman and the police to steal from the abandoned stores surrounding them.
Poverty and Racism:
Police officers in New Orleans targeted, first and foremost, African-American workers, in their effort to stop people from stealing supplies.
On September 1st, an unarmed Keenon Mccann is shot three times in front of his mother by the NOPD, who were looking for a truck thief in the area.
On September 2nd, the same day Henry Glover is killed by police, Danny Brumfield was run down by a police cruiser in front of his family, and shot in the back.
On September 4th, police opened fire on an unarmed group of civilians, injuring four and killing two. No officers were injured, and no guns were found at the scene, despite officers claiming that they had been attacked first.
These killings, to be sure, are just the tip of the iceberg. We will never know just how many people were killed by the police or by the white militias
they let act with impunity.
In this infamous photo, we can clearly see two bloodied black men lying on the street, surrounded by at least 11 officers. To this day, these men remain anonymous.
Shortly after the photo was taken by New York Times photographer Marko Georgiev, police detained him and journalist Gordon Russel.
After forcing the journalists out of their car at gunpoint, and frisking them down against a cinderblock wall, they erased most of Marko’s photo’s. They missed this photo however, as he had taken it on a different camera.
Although police at the scene mentioned a gunfight, no report to that effect was ever made. The two bloodied men we see lying on the ground here remain unknown, like so many other victims of the NOPD’s.
This is typical of police not just in New Orleans, but across the United States. It should be clear to readers that “police brutality,” or “racial profiling” are by no means isolated incidences.
In New Orleans, hundreds of officers have had years to come clean about their colleagues’ murders and misdoings, but to this day, only a handful have. And even the few who have come clean did so only to save their own skins in court.
The problem of racism within police departments is systemic; its part of the American police system itself.