Charles Dorsey, 60 year old black male:
We still slaves. You don't see that? Don't work. See what happens to you.
I'm sixty years old, I've been working since I was eleven. My body is tired.
We don't ever really own anything. I've paid for my house and see what'd
happen if I stopped paying taxes on it? Same way with my car.
They took my gas meter. No one came over and asked me, or even just to tell me they were gonna take it. I just come out and they'd already taken it outof the ground. What's that tell you? There's not gonna be gas here for a long time. What's gonna happen when it gets cold here? What about the older folks? I've got arthritis. I can't deal with that.
You can't help me. Ain't nobody can help me. Only He can help. I'm
waiting. And I'm ready. I'm ready.
It's coming. I don't know when, but it's coming. God's coming back. I don't want to be here. I want to go before it happens. It's not gonna be anything nice, that's for sure. They been talking about building skyscrapers and new casinos. Where are they now? He's trying to teach us a lesson. But are we listening?
The world is nothing no more. It was a beautiful place at one time.
Beautiful. The rich folks have messed it all up. You write that down,
because it's true. They did.
Life's been hard. You don't know what I've been through. You don't want to
know. No. Oh no, you don't want to know. (I assure him that I really do
want to know).
They treated us like we were the enemy. During the Vietnam War. Us, our
own people. Those people (The Vietnamese) they loved us Black people. Cuz
they knew what we was going through back in the United States. They
wouldn't kill us. If they saw us, they'd avoid us. If they saw a white
boy, they'd blow his ass up. They had no problem with us.
I don't want to talk about this anymore. It brings back memories that I don't want to
have. I've seen things that you wouldn't believe. No one would believe it,
unless they experienced it. But we don't talk about it.
That president. He sends all our money over there while we have people
I could write a book, huh? But then, I'd be just like them. But I don't
want to make no money. I just want people to know. I just want people to know.
I don't want to be here no more. I want to be up there with Him.
Just look around. Look around. I wake up at five o'clock every monring.
It's beautiful. So quiet and peaceful. And we talk, me and God. I ain't
ashamed to say it. We talk every day, and it's wonderful. But then by 6:30
or 7:00, it all changes. The sirens start going off from across the
street, the trucks are rushing by.
You see what happens here? Everything, destroyed. God gives us the chance
to start again, to start fresh, but instead, we just rebuild.
(I can't tell you how many times I have thought about this last part since hearing him speak these words).
Directly across the street is a Fire Department and Police Department adjoined. So when Charles said he was tired and didn't want to talk anymore, I figured it would be a good place to go next. I went over to the fire department first. I kick myself for never making it to the police department, but the sun was setting and I thought I was going to have to walk the four miles back to the New Waveland Cafe. Charles ended up driving me, though.
Steve Parker, 39 year-old white male, firefighter:
I don't think we are getting much news coverage. It's all focused on New
Orleans. We're not the big international city. But we got flooded just as
bad, plus we had three thirty-foot tidal waves on top of that.
You know how old this area is? Biloxi was founded in 1699. It's the oldest
colony in the United States. Most people don't realize that. I don't think
people realize how devestated the coast really is.
I have this friend in Japan, and he tells me that from what they see on TV
over there, New Orleans looks like a Third World country now.
Some people say that they let New Orleans flood out in order to flood out the
people. I heard on the news that Louis Farakhan is saying that the levies
were bombed out. Well, I don't know about that, but well, I don't know
what to believe anymore.
(I mention that the news seems to be saying that everything is fine now).
That's far from the truth. Far from it! We had three and four million
dollar homes on the beach. 300 years old. Gone. You can't replace that.
We made history by our history being wiped out.
I have trouble carrying a conversation, trouble remembering words. I
didn't have that problem before. It's definitely played with people's
It'll be a long, long time for things to really get back to normal here.
We won't ever know the coast like we knew it all our lives. That coast is
Over a billion dollars in damage here. Multi-million dollar homes destroyed.
I don't think people realize how this affects people physically.
This may sound gross, and I'm sorry, but some people couldn't go to the
the bathroom for four or five days. What does that tell you about what it
does to your body? People lost their apetite. They couldn't eat anything.
It wasn't that the food wasn't good, they just couldn't eat.
They didn't tolerate any looting. They didn't jail them, but when they
were finished they wished they were in jail. The cops would teach them a
lesson, that's for sure. Well, what else they gonna do? We don't have the
jail facilities. Are you just going to let them get away with it? You've
got to make an example out of a few people. Get the word out: This will
not be tolerated.
We got this one kid, he kept trespassing on this guy's property. The
owner, he tells the kid three times that he doesn't want him near his
property. The third time he calls the cops. By the time we get there, the
owner had beat him within an inch of his life with a steel pipe. His mom's
all mad because we don't arrest the owner. But what are you going to do?
He kept trying to steal things. The kid's lucky he wasn't killed.
It was really difficult for me to sit and listen to this man speak. Especially after listening to Charles right before this. I couldn't get over how different their two perspectives in life are. Charles largely spoke about God, and about man's inhumanity to man. Steve seemed to be most focused on property. When he speaks of history being wiped out, he is referencing property. When he talked about damage, he focused on the homes of the wealthiest individuals. And while he did mention the effects that this hurricane has had on people physically, he spent far more time discussing monetary damage than anything else.
Then, of course there was the last section... Major points that I noted: He kept going back and forth between saying "they" and "we" when discussing the police. Perhaps the connection of the buildings together has also resulted in the connection of the two departments psychologically as well. As someone who has a high respect for fire departments and little respect for police departments, this disturbs me. Steve also continuously condones police vigilante behavior. The stated purpose of the police is to bring suspects into the judicial system, and for the judicial system to determine guilt or innocence and to determine the punishment for those found guilty. Steve didn't see it that way. He saw it as the police's responsibility to punish those that they determined to be guilty in order to send a message to the rest of the community. Steve also seemed to think that physical violence was not only an acceptable means of 'enforcing the law,' but the right thing to do.
And the last part of the story... I don't even know where to begin except to say that I felt sick listening to him, and I feel sick now thinking about it. The question isn't whether the kid was in the wrong or not. The question is what do you value more property or human life? I think to myself, what could I ever possibly own that is worth a human life? Maybe it's just me, but it sounds like this cop, whoops, I mean this firefighter, is just taking the property owner's story as fact, without any investigation. Once again, it seems that the police don't understand how the judicial system is supposed to work. It is not for the police to decide who was right or who was wrong. It is not for the police to determine if the owner was 'correct' to nearly kill the supposed 'looter.' That is what the court system is made for.
This is the problem with institutionalized power. It is abused time and time again.