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  • Looting in Louisiana

    Posted by Kevin Fleming on August 30th, 2005 (All posts by )

    According to WWL TV in New Orleans, the hurricane has brought out looters.
    “With much of the city emptied by Hurricane Katrina, some opportunists took advantage of the situation by looting stores. At a Walgreen’s drug store in the French Quarter, people were running out with grocery baskets and coolers full of soft drinks, chips and diapers.

    When police finally showed up, a young boy stood in the door screaming, “86! 86!” — the radio code for police — and the crowd scattered. “

    An August 11 2005 USA Today article noted the passage of an anti-price gouging law and stiffened penalties for looting.
    “Civil action can be taken against price-gougers, including fines and restitution. Criminal penalties range up to six months in jail and $500 in fines for each violation.
    Also, looting during states of emergency starts carrying heavier penalties on Monday: a three-year minimum prison sentence and up to 15 years. Backers of that bill said fear of being looted was a hindrance to getting storm-threatened residents to evacuate.”

    One man watching the looters said.”To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it’s an opportunity to get back at society.”

    It is a surely measure of the character of a people what their thoughts turn to in a disaster. That ‘looting’ was foremost on their minds is reprehensible, to be sure. But it speaks volumes for the type of people they are, none of it good.

    Get back at society?
    I fervently hope this is an isolated incident.

     

    6 Responses to “Looting in Louisiana”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Backers of that bill said fear of being looted was a hindrance to getting storm-threatened residents to evacuate.

      That is an understatement. If politicians went after looters with the same gusto they devote to “price gougers,” maybe more citizens would be willing to flee their homes. As it is, once they leave they don’t know when they will be able or allowed to return, so it’s no wonder that many people take their chances with storms rather than risk all they own to thieves.

      It is a surely measure of the character of a people what their thoughts turn to in a disaster. That ‘looting’ was foremost on their minds is reprehensible, to be sure. But it speaks volumes for the type of people they are, none of it good.

      It is also surely a measure of the character of some civic leaders that they hesitate to crack down on looting, but are eager to persecute entrepreneurs who deliver scarce goods after storms.

    2. Ken Says:

      It’s the same crazy logic we’ve been putting up with for more than a century.

      Not only are the price gougers less likely to shoot back themselves, they’re less likely to be sympathetic to clueless “advocates”.

      Round up all the price gougers you want, no one will raise a peep. Stop looters, and you’re oppressing the downtrodd-en. Oppress the downtrodd-en too much, and the people will “rise up” in “righteous anger” and string up the “oppressors” from the nearest lamppost. And when “the people” rise up, using force to stop them (besi d es being just plain evil, because “the people” are never wrong when they “rise up”) just creates more “freedom fighters”.

      It’s d e p r e ssing how many people take this babble as scientific truth and unimpeachable morality, and cling to it in the face of all evid ence and efforts at logical and moral persuasion.

      (P.S. Something’s wrong with the spam filter… it’s rejecting weird word fragments)

    3. Jonathan Says:

      I think politicians would actually benefit by being hard er on looters, but what do I know.

      I have the same problem with the spam filter.

    4. Ginny Says:

      Isn’t that the kind of disproportionate and bizarre response you imagine from a kid – ah, I want to get back at society, when the forces against us are mortality and nature and fate? Gwen Ifill asked someone if the people weren’t angry at the authorities because they had stayed in Biloxi. The guy there said: no, the people keep saying they were sorry they hadn’t listened; they just hadn’t believed it would be that bad. People were surfing off New Orleans yesterday. Another news reporter asked some authority in N.O. if they were going to get those guys out of the water and observed that there weren’t any life guards around. The New Orleans guy said the police & firemen had enough to do trying to save the people who wanted to be saved.

      Those people working night and day, though, have been remarkable.

    5. Don Says:

      So after the post-Katrina sweep of debris and homes, how many dead will we find? How many stayed to protect their property from looters, knowing by past behaviors that government will not protect their property? Count that number against how many looters need to be shot before the communication is received that such behaviors will not be tolerated. That is the trade-off for future disasters. Strange how that doesn’t get through peoples brains. You’re simply trading off from one column of the casualty list and adding to another.

    6. Kevin F Says:

      I don’t know enough about the history of looting to understand why the reponse “looters must be shot” is so commonly held.

      Christopher Hitchens recently reviewed three books on piracy in early America. Coincidentally (or not, it appears), some of this occurred in and near New Orleans. The “The Pirates Laffite” established a “more or less self-governing pirate republic” in the adjacent bay, plundering, smuggling, looting, and dealing in slaves. They fought on the US side in the war of 1812, “in exchange for immunity from innumerable potential prosecutions.”

      Hitchens correctly points out that these gangs of thieves, here and in the Mediterranean, represented a rogue state that interfered with (and negated) free trade. They responded only to force, which eventually wiped them out. The Marine Corps hymn contains the phrase “to the shores of Tripoli” in memory of the American troops deployed to fight these looters.

      I feel the same way here.