Thursday, December 20, 2007


Police shut the gates of City Hall in New Orleans today against protesters who were attempting to enter a City Council meeting that was expected to approve the demolition of 4500 units of public housing. When about 100 protesters broke through, police began using pepper spray and tasers and physically assaulted the protesters.

WWLTV reported the clash happened at an iron gate that separates the council chambers from City Hall grounds. On the grounds, protesters had been chanting, calling for the council to reject plans by the Department of Housing and Urban development to demolish the housing projects.

Then, protesters tried to storm the gate with a few able to squeeze through a narrow opening before police began using the spray and stun devices.

A woman identified by bystanders as Jamie Bork Laughner, was sprayed and dragged away from the gates.

She was taken away on a stretcher by emergency officials on the scene. Before that, she was seen pouring water from a bottle into her eyes and weeping.

Another woman said she was stunned by officers, and still had

what appeared to be a Taser wire hanging from her shirt.

"I was just standing, trying to get into my City Council

meeting," said the woman, Kim Ellis.

Inside, a scuffle also occurred in the City Council chambers as the meeting opened. Several protesters were forced out, including a woman who was carried, and a recess was called. The room was calm once the meeting resumed.

The Council meeting was delayed several times due to the shouting matches and skirmishes that broke out inside of the chamber.

On Wednesday, a woman chained herself to an outdoor stairwell at the B.W. Cooper housing development for hours while protesters marched and chanted outside of the development gates.

New Orleans police eventually broke the chains and carried the woman down.

She and two others were charged with trespassing. In recent days, a variety of arrests have been made as protesters attempted to block the demolition.

The New Oreleans Times-Picayune is reporting right now:
By a 7-0 vote, the New Orleans City Council approves the demolition of the city's four largest housing developments, agreeing with HANO's sweeping plans to transform the complexes from neglected, blighted homes into modern-day residences.

The paper adds in its live coverage of the meeting that Council President Arnie Fielkow, " the final statement of all seven council members, who each pontificate that public housing must change and that in order to redevelop the battered HANO sites, demolition must go on.

The 7-0 council vote comes after nearly six hours of debate, during which the council mostly listened to a host of speakers during more than three hours of "public comment."

And so it goes...

For earlier stories and background information go to

The following was taken from IMC/New Orleans.

Police Attack Protesters With Mace, Tazers to Keep Them Out of City Hall
by Darwin BondGraham Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007 at 4:16 PM

The scene was described by many as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong in the city and America. The whole situation has been referred to as “high noon,” and “do or die time.” It’s decision day for public housing in New Orleans.

Underneath New Orleans City Hall, a huge office building topped with a neon casino-style sign, milled a growing group of public housing residents and supporters. They had arrived for the 10am Council meeting to speak against the demoltion of affordable homes. They were locked out and told to “go home.” The City Council is expected to vote in approval of demolishing more than 5000 public housing units in 4 developments across the city today. The majority of the council has already pledged publicly to rubber stamp HUD’s highly controversial plans.

Locked out of the council chambers the protestors were quickly surrounded with dozens of police. Behind them stood eight horse-mounted police, and behind the gate keeping them out of the hall were many more heavily armed officers. Right in front of City Hall, behind the protesters is Duncan Plaza, which has been turned into an enormous homeless camp. Many Duncan Plaza residents came over to show their support for the cause. There are more than 12,000 homeless in the city today. Inside the chambers, the City Council proceeded.

First locked out of their homes for more than 2 years, and now locked out of the very City Council meeting in which the city’s politicians are set to vote for tearing down their homes, many of the residents began pleading with the officers to be allowed in. Pleading turned quickly to outrage as it was clear that the process would move forward without their voices or even witness. Receiving phone calls from their allies inside the chambers, the protesters were told that the Council meeting was being held up by chants and clapping until everyone was allowed inside. The Council members refused and called on their security forces to clear out the chambers.

In the desperation the group outside began shaking the large metal gates locking them out. The gate was easily broken open. Police moved in with pepper spray and batons, quickly beating back anyone near the entrance. Chants of “housing is a human right,” and “justice!” filled the air along with the putrid smell of the chemical weapons used by the NOPD. The gate was re-secured with handcuffs this time. Again the protesters chanted and demanded entrance. Some called into question the legitimacy of a “public” meeting in which the public was excluded.

As they pushed against the gates it suddenly became clear that something was happening inside the chambers. Dozens of police quickly sprinted into the building with their hands on their weapons. Outside this sparked concern among those gathered who began to slam against the gate once more. An ambulance arrived in the compound and a stretcher was taken into the building. Police would not communicate with those outside as to what was happening in the chambers. Protesters in the building began calling their allies and reporting that the police were forcefully clearing the room. It is confirmed by housing advocate Jay Arena that he, Malcolm Suber, Sess 4-5, and Endesha Jukali were arrested along with others. It is reported but not yet confirmed that Sess was tazered.

Outside the protesters again managed to break through the gates and pulled one side of it away from the officers. The police moved in and attempted to pull the gate back. Then came the pepper spray and tazers, this time much more forceful. At least two women were struck with tazers. On of them was simultaneously hit with spray and tazer and then smashed between the pavement and metal gate. She was rushed away from the scene by friends who treated her nearby until an ambulance could be found. Here medical condition is unknown at this time. Another woman, Bork, the same activists who yesterday chained herself to a building at BW Cooper was tazered and taken away in an ambulance. The police fanned chemical weapons out over the entire crowd hitting dozens in the face and eyes.

Activists from the Coalition to Stop Demolition have put out a national call to allies: come to New Orleans, help stop demolition, take nonviolent direct action. The struggle, after today continues, but it has become glaringly apparent the lengths to which the City Council and their allies will go to tear down homes.

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