"Coalition to Stop the Demolitions" 12/17/07 Update

Date Published: 
December 17, 2007
The Coalition to Stop the Demolitions would like to thank all of our allies and supporters throughout the United States and the world who came and stood with us in New Orleans or took action on the streets your city, or who called, emailed, or faxed the New Orleans City Council, Mayor Ray Nagin, Senator Vitter, the Senate Banking Committee members, etc. Your support played a pivotal role in helping us attain the victories we accomplished last week in halting the demolition of three of the four major public housing locations in New Orleans.

However, the fight is far from over and we still need your help. Despite our victories in both State and Federal Courts last Friday, we recognize that it is quite possible that we might lose the City Council vote on Thursday, December 20th by a decision of four to three (or perhaps even five to two). We are fairly certain that at least three of the white City Council members are going vote against us, including Jacquelyn Clarkson, Stacy Head, and Shelley Midura. There is a possibility that Arnie Fielkow, the current Council President, might vote in favor or abstain in order to not lose favor with a sector of the Black electorate whom he will need to fulfill his Mayoral aspirations. As for those who may stand with us, there are likely only two members who are solid. These are James Carter and Cynthia Willard-Lewis. The third Black Council member, Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, is definitely a critical swing vote.  We need to put pressure on each and every one of these City Council members between now and the 20th (please stress outreach to Internally Displaced Persons in your area and encourage them to call as a priority).

In addition, the Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the residents of the St. Bernard was transferred from Washington, D.C. to the US District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana. Based on his past behavior, we do not expect this judge will do anything to stop the demolitions.

What this means is that by Friday, December 21st we may realistically be engaging in our second wave of mass non-violent civil disobedience action. Should this be the case, we are going to need all of our allies and supporters everywhere to be ready yet again to take decisive action to stop these inhumane demolition orders.

Things we foresee as being critical this week:
  1. We need to blitz the City Council of New Orleans and demand
    a.    That they vote NO to the demolitions, and
    b.    That they hold a public hearing on the demolitions in the evening so that more working class people can participate. Information on how to contact the City Council is provided below.
  2. We need for as many people who can come down to come down to
    a.   Pack City Council on Thursday, December 20th,
    b.   Be prepared to engage in non-violent civil disobedience in line with the residents council principles and the coalitions pledge of resistance statement ... To engage in this initiative you must register with the coalition ...
    c.    We would also like to encourage Black and other oppressed nationality organizers to come down and help us with outreach, base building, and coalition building work over the course of the next several weeks.
  3. We need to continue pressuring Senator David Vitter with calls, faxes, and emails demanding that he support Senate Bill 1668 and allow the bill to move from the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee to the Senate for a vote.
  4. We need to pressure Senator Mary Landrieu to demand that the Federal government via President George W. Bush and the Justice Department suspend the demolitions until the Federal investigation of Alphonso Jackson is complete.
  5. We need to seize these next three days to reframe the struggle to stop the demolition based on the demands of the Coalition (see below). To this end we need everyone to
    a.    Write letters to the editor for your local news outlets,
    b.    Blitz the major newsprint, TV, and cable media networks and demand that they cover the issue, and
    c.    To write articles on the issue based on the Coalitions demands and post them to as many listserves, blogs, and websites as you possibly can.
Finally, we need some resources to carry out this work. Some of the things we need resources for include:
1.    The "Stop Da Demolitions" Mixtape made by Sess 4 – 5, Nuthinbutfire Records, and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement for the Coalition the Stop the Demolition. We need $1,400 to produce and print 2,000 CD's for youth outreach and education.
2.    We also need resources to help with transportation, food, and accommodations for both residents and volunteers.
3.    We need resources the cover the Coalitions cell phone expense.
4.    We need resources to cover printings (flyers and posters).
5.    Finally, we need resources materials to produce banners and other mobilization props.

Donations can be made out to the Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition (MDRC) and mailed to P.O. Box 31762 Jackson, MS 39286 . Please indicate on your donation "Coalition to Stop Demolitions". All donations are tax-deductible.

Our Demands

I.    City Council needs to vote NO on demolition.  The Council meeting should be moved to an evening time to accommodate people's schedules and allow a full public hearing on demolition before taking a vote.

II.    The mayor needs to meet with the faith leaders who have requested a meeting with him about the housing crisis in the city

III.     No Demolitions – reopen the existing units and rebuild dignified housing at former public housing sights.

IV.    Guaranteed one-to-one replacement for all public housing residents.

V.    All available public housing units should be made available for the homeless and those likely to face homelessness from the pending loss of rent vouchers and trailer recalls.

VI.    The Federal government needs to suspend demolition until the investigation of Alphonso Jackson and the contraction process is completed.

VII.    Rent Control to provide deeply affordable housing so that all will be able to return to the city.

VIII.    Stop the privatization and gentrification of the City.

Resident Principles

  1. All Actions should be non-violent.
  2. There should be no weapons or drugs at any actions, and no alcohol or drug or weapon possession at any action.
  3. No destruction or defacement of resident property.
  4. No coalition meetings without resident knowledge and input.
  5. No media without residents or resident knowledge.
  6. Focus on defending public housing and affordable housing in the city for all.