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Liberating the Loaves of Bread
August 30, 2005 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Black people loot, white people borrow. Racist photo captions by Yahoo News/AP illuminate more than Katrina's aftermath. If these pictures are taken down, there are mirrors right here.
posted by bairey (211 comments total)

 
Jesus.
posted by mathowie at 4:41 PM on August 30, 2005


Nice call.
posted by pwedza at 4:42 PM on August 30, 2005


Oops. I wonder how long those will stay up. Thanks for the mirrors, this is a great demonstration of racism in media.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:43 PM on August 30, 2005


You've gotta be kidding me...
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:43 PM on August 30, 2005


'finding'
posted by erebora at 4:43 PM on August 30, 2005


"Looting" versus "finding". Shit.
posted by ericb at 4:44 PM on August 30, 2005


What erebora said!
posted by ericb at 4:44 PM on August 30, 2005


(applause to bairey)
posted by symphonik at 4:44 PM on August 30, 2005


Look! I found bread! In a grocery store!

umm, what is the wisdom behind looting bread and then dragging it through floodwaters?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:45 PM on August 30, 2005


Welcome to America
posted by Max Power at 4:45 PM on August 30, 2005


Wow, whodda thought it was that easy to tell who was looting and who's borrowing? Just look at the color of their skin and you'll know the answer and can react accordingly.

This is sick and wrong.
posted by fenriq at 4:45 PM on August 30, 2005


Nice find.
posted by dobbs at 4:45 PM on August 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


Uh. If they were all three from the AP or you could show me the same person made the comments from all three photos, fine. Otherwise...

Finding should also say looting, that's the only problem I see.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:46 PM on August 30, 2005


You know, if it was a stereo system I'd call it looting, but food from a flooded grocery store where nobody is going to return to work for months and insurance will pay for is fair game. :P
posted by Foosnark at 4:46 PM on August 30, 2005


damn. nice work.
posted by xmutex at 4:46 PM on August 30, 2005


You know, I could see calling getting beer looting, versus getting food (and soda, though) -- but this was just damn egregious. The first boy was getting food and soda as well.
posted by jb at 4:47 PM on August 30, 2005


Good show, bairey.

...or should i say good find?
posted by item at 4:48 PM on August 30, 2005


Nice 'find', bairey.
posted by maryh at 4:50 PM on August 30, 2005


(damn! too slow!)
posted by maryh at 4:51 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm usually pretty skeptical about people who cry "racism," but this time I gotta say, Yahoo! they got you nailed.
posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on August 30, 2005


Wait - dobbs said it. I'll stick with show.

(unless dobbs' pun was unintentional - then the sky's the limit.)

And might I add that that gentleman's beer find looks awfully nice right about now - but likely not as nice as it does to him.
posted by item at 4:51 PM on August 30, 2005


"nice find" is genius
posted by matteo at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2005


Does Yahoo do the captions themselves?
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2005


Ummmm, as far as I can tell one news agency was using the word "Looting" with another optioned to use the word "finding".

Much like some news organizations use the word "terrorist", while some prefer to use other less loaded phrases.

If AP also had a picture of a white person and failed to use the word "looting", or if the other agency had shown blacks and listed "looting" then this might be compelling, but as it stands I don't buy it.
posted by Jezztek at 4:56 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm seeing so much moral condemnation of "looting" that as far as I'm concerned, the press had damn well better be calling any—and I mean any—theft in New Orleans "looting".

Unless, of course, a lot of the freaked-out mentions of "looting" are really just crytpic versions of "look at how those savage black people behave in an emergency". Which, I think, is probably right.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:56 PM on August 30, 2005


Uh, "is right" meaning "is the case"
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:57 PM on August 30, 2005


That's what I thought, Jezz. Which is why I wanted to know if maybe we are wrong and Yahoo does the captioning for the photos, otherwise I don't see how it is racist of Yahoo.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:57 PM on August 30, 2005


Does Yahoo do the captions themselves?

Oh yeah, if Yahoo does the captions themselves, then I rescind my whole argument, and concur that it is pure bullshit to label them like that.

But if the wire services also write the captions then my objection stands.
posted by Jezztek at 4:57 PM on August 30, 2005


The captions are from AP, not Yahoo.
posted by jjg at 4:59 PM on August 30, 2005


If Bush hadn't gone to war in Iraq then money would have been spent on the levees and they would have held and these people wouldn't have looted and journalists who constantly harbor racist thoughts wouldn't have had an opportunity to write about them.

Fucking Bush, man.
posted by billysumday at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2005


The captions are from AP, not Yahoo

You mean the first two captions, the ones that mention looting, are from AP. The third "finding" caption is from a non-AP non Yahoo source.

Not to be snarky, just to be clear on things.
posted by Jezztek at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2005


Yahoo sponsors this content - no matter which wire service it comes from it is still being displayed on Yahoo and they should take ownership over what is being displayed on their site. Arranging these articles side-by-side demonstrates racism and Yahoo, through the use of the wire services, is the one doing the arranging.
posted by rlef98 at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2005


Are both captions from AP? Either way, this is a huge failure on yahoo's part. Don't they edit through the images and captions at all? I don't think this is "intentional" as much as it was Freudian - but it still reflects how images are used in media to support modern racism.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:02 PM on August 30, 2005


I worry about how many people would not even notice this (myself included) and as a result become subconciously racist.
posted by Acey at 5:10 PM on August 30, 2005


On CNN it's "A young man drags groceries through chest-deep water in New Orleans on Tuesday."
posted by Foosnark at 5:10 PM on August 30, 2005


The "finding" caption is from Agence France-Presse, provider of that photo. Yahoo does not write captions. So, in short, the difference seems to be between the way AP writes descriptions and AFP writes descriptions.
posted by jjg at 5:11 PM on August 30, 2005


NTM, the "looting," accusations are awful quick to anybody under the circumstances. It's an extraordinary situation. As long as you're not like grabbing food off someone's table, I'd say some slack is in order for everyone down there. The guy getting beer could be accused of having weird priorities, but shit, after a storm like that I'd crave a cold one myself, maybe. When I lived in Florida, the first things I'd stock up on during a hurricane warning were beer and cigarrettes.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on August 30, 2005


Looks like the captions have been 'fixed'.
posted by xmutex at 5:21 PM on August 30, 2005


Doesn't look that way to me, xmutex.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 PM on August 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


Wait, nevermind. I was too busy borrowing things.
posted by xmutex at 5:24 PM on August 30, 2005


jjg is right. The captions come from two different companies and reflect the choices of two different editors.
posted by soiled cowboy at 5:26 PM on August 30, 2005


Can anybody get access to the other AP photos for Katrina? This is two different news services, so maybe there's no racism.

If the AP uses different terminology for white people wading through the muck after the storm then there's something.
posted by substrate at 5:27 PM on August 30, 2005


Wow!
posted by VulcanMike at 5:30 PM on August 30, 2005


The looting...or finding..or whatever, is getting pretty damn bad.
"Law enforcement efforts to contain the emergency left by Katrina slipped into chaos in parts of New Orleans Tuesday with some police officers and firefighters joining looters in picking stores clean...

"Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat screen television.

"Officers claimed there was nothing they could do to contain the anarchy, saying their radio communications have broken down and they had no direction from commanders.

"'We don’t have enough cops to stop it,' an officer said. 'A mass riot would break out if you tried.'

"Inside the store, the scene alternated between celebration and frightening bedlam. A shirtless man straddled a broken jewelry case, yelling, 'Free samples, free samples over here.'

"Another man rolled a mechanized pallet, stacked six feet high with cases of vodka and whiskey. Perched atop the stack was a bewildered toddler.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:33 PM on August 30, 2005


I worry about how many people would not even notice this (myself included) and as a result become subconciously racist.

Something like this on its own wouldn't cause us to become subconciously racist. Rather, it just subconciously confirms and adds to all the other little forms of racism we're faced with from birth.

As Avenue Q put it, "Everyone's a little bit racist, sometimes."
posted by mikeweeney at 5:35 PM on August 30, 2005


Ufez Jones: Ok, now that I can get pretty upset about. Jesus.
posted by billysumday at 5:39 PM on August 30, 2005


I don't care if it's 50 different news services. The language hints at a dramatic failure of journalism.

There's a subtle rumbling among journalism critics that calls for a set of standards for journalists, much like the standards that airline pilots or doctors must adhere to.

Standards among editors would call it looting no matter who had the bread.
posted by Jazznoisehere at 5:39 PM on August 30, 2005


Are both captions from AP? Either way, this is a huge failure on yahoo's part. Don't they edit through the images and captions at all?

Are you sure you want them to? Me, I'm a stickler for unexpurgated source material, regardless of its content.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:39 PM on August 30, 2005


Check the crabwalk entry below that one, billysumday:
"WWL-TV was reporting that a law enforcement officer was shot in the back of the head Tuesday afternoon on the west bank. The officer reportedly approached the looter near the intersection of Wall Boulevard and Gen. DeGaulle and, while talking to suspect, was shot in the back of the head by a second looter."
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:41 PM on August 30, 2005


I saw the photo of the white people yesterday in some set of Getty images linked here (it was also printed in Chicago's Red Eye today), and my first thought was, "What grocery store anywhere remotely near such intense flooding would be open?" Or any grocery store anywhere in New Orleans, for that matter. I just assumed "looting" but I can't see that word justified for any taking of food from a most likely destroyed store during such a disaster.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 5:41 PM on August 30, 2005


K, what am I missing? Without knowing what the photographer saw, and presumably reported / attached to the photo as he sent it back to HQ (yeah, I have no idea how this works), could these captions not, theoretically, be accurate? I mean, could the photographer not have witnessed some people breaking into a store and looting vs others coming across stuff just floating around?

/devils advocate
posted by jikel_morten at 5:54 PM on August 30, 2005


> You know, I could see calling getting beer looting, versus
> getting food

If I'd just survived a hurricane, I'd feel just as entitled to 'borrow'
beer as I would to 'borrow' food.

I'd draw the line at colour TV's though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:54 PM on August 30, 2005


This probably isn't racist. AFP wrote the finding caption. AP wrote the looting caption.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 5:56 PM on August 30, 2005



I'd draw the line at colour TV's though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:54 PM EST on August 30 [!]


Flat or projection?
posted by jikel_morten at 5:58 PM on August 30, 2005


I don't care if it's 50 different news services. The language hints at a dramatic failure of journalism.

err... How, exactly, is this a "dramatic failure of journalism"? There is NO RACISM here, just two different people writing about two different stories. Do you want all the journalists in one room, writing the same thing?
posted by soiled cowboy at 5:59 PM on August 30, 2005


rlef98 : "Arranging these articles side-by-side demonstrates racism and Yahoo, through the use of the wire services, is the one doing the arranging."

Actually, the pictures captioned "looting" by AP are pictures 388 and 352 of the "Hurricanes and Tropical Storms" section of Yahoo, while the picture captioned "finding" by AFP/Getty is an unnumbered (within the page) photo from the "Yahoo News" section of Yahoo. The photos were arranged side-by-side by bairey.

Or, even more accurately, links to the photos were arranged side-by-side by bairey, and, by clicking on those links, tabs containing the pages containing the photos were arranged side-by-side by myself. I apologize for my racism.

But, more seriously: yeah, it pissed me off until I realized that they were captioned by different companies. Now I'm just annoyed at the low level that happens when newscasters mispronounce words and the like. Both AP and AFP/Getty should probably use the word "take", instead of either "find" or "loot".

That said, if AP uses the word "find" for a white person taking stuff, or AFP/Getty uses the word "loot" for a black person getting stuff, then today's gonna find me all full of indignation, but until then this seems a near-miss to me.

Ufez Jones : "'Another man rolled a mechanized pallet, stacked six feet high with cases of vodka and whiskey. Perched atop the stack was a bewildered toddler."

Toddler looting...what has this world come to?
posted by Bugbread at 5:59 PM on August 30, 2005


AFP photo/caption of looters ... not "finders" and most assuredly not white either.
posted by Orb at 6:00 PM on August 30, 2005


From crabwalk: "Some groups organized themselves into assembly lines to more efficiently cart off goods...Inside the store, one woman was stocking up on make-up. She said she took comfort in watching police load up their own carts.

"'It must be legal,' she said. 'The police are here taking stuff, too.'"


Holy effin shit.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:01 PM on August 30, 2005


Well, this guy isn't black, and he's a looter.
posted by smackfu at 6:04 PM on August 30, 2005


There's a subtle rumbling among journalism critics that calls for a set of standards for journalists

Indeed, I am sure there are many people in positions of power who would like to set standards for the language journalists can and can't use.
posted by jjg at 6:05 PM on August 30, 2005


This caption is just a brilliantly non-judgemental:
As one person looks through their shopping bag, left, another jumps through a broken window, while leaving a convenience store on the I-10 service road south, in Metairie, La.
posted by smackfu at 6:10 PM on August 30, 2005


smackfu, he's probably Puerto Rican.
posted by iamck at 6:12 PM on August 30, 2005


finding bread and soda from a local grocery store

That's an odd grammatical construction. At first, I'm tempted to speculate that, in the original version, it read "taking bread and soda from a local..." and then someone changed "taking" to "finding" but forgot to also clean up "from". (I guess they should have changed it to "in").

But then, I think... sloppy grammar is pretty common, even in the news business. Probably that's all it is.
posted by Clay201 at 6:12 PM on August 30, 2005


Well it looks to me like the people of New Orleans aren't going to need any financial help from people like us, they seem pretty adept at obtaining all the supplies they're gonna need until the water dries up, and they're striking a blow against oppression at the same time. Who needs affirmative action when you have "uprisings" and "social justice"?
posted by filifera at 6:13 PM on August 30, 2005


I need to point out that I didn't notice this on my own.. a friend at Livejournal pointed it out after having read this at Fark. Now that thread references this one. It's a meta world. I didn't find this (despite being white) but was just passing it on.

Personally, despite two different news services being involved, I still see bias. Foosnark notes that CNN has different text with their AP photo. I think Yahoo let this one slip through. Sad no one noticed. To have 'looter' vs 'resident' and 'looting' vs 'finding' in the same slideshow.. AP and AFP didn't put their stories together for comparison, Yahoo did.
posted by bairey at 6:15 PM on August 30, 2005


Interesting find.

I'm seeing so much moral condemnation of "looting" that as far as I'm concerned, the press had damn well better be calling anyand I mean anytheft in New Orleans "looting".

Dial zipping just now, I see eff-tarded Faux going on and on about that. Consider the source. But what really angered me was that both NBC and CBS (I think) spent minutes of their 30-minute evening news showing the looting (aka black people finding stuff).

I was p.o.'d. But OTOH part of the reason the networks were showing it is just because that's what they happened to have pics of. Some of these networks don't seem to be getting out to the real stories very well. Meanwhile, as I alluded to in the other thread, I think the local papers are doing great jobs - the T-P had someone out in a boat filing long stories.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:16 PM on August 30, 2005


I'd draw the line at colour TV's though.

Off topic, but does anyone know why television sets stolen during looting are so often called "color tv's"? I can't think of any other situation aside from that Dire Straits song where the word "color" is still used to decribe TV's.

Is the implication that the looters are replacing their black and white TV's? Or is it a specific reference to something?
posted by Espy Gillespie at 6:18 PM on August 30, 2005


Seeing the looters on television makes me wish the hurricane had washed a few more people away.
posted by soiled cowboy at 6:19 PM on August 30, 2005


Well, to be fair, the dude with the beer is also ugly.

Anyway, I don't really think taking food from an abandoned grocery store after an (locally) apocalyptic disaster while waiting to be rescued really counts as 'looting'.

It's not like oportunistic people driving into an abandoned town and breaking into homes and bussness and then driving out. We're talking about people stuck there, who could very well starve to death while waiting for rescue.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 PM on August 30, 2005


Anything you need for survival (food, water, medicine. shelter, clothing) isn't looting if you ask me. As long as you don't hurt anyone gathering it or cause more damage than was caused by the disaster itself.
posted by schwa at 6:28 PM on August 30, 2005


Why aren't the police ventilating some of these cretins? Shooting looters on sight is an old gulf coast hurricane tradition. as for why the police are actually helping loot ,I have been led to believe that New Orleans has one of the most corrupt police departments in the country. I'm not surprised to hear that they are "helping themselves"

I wonder if, when the Louisiana National Guard gets back from Iraq in 4-6 weeks, they can retroactively help with this nightmare.
posted by Megafly at 6:36 PM on August 30, 2005


We're talking about people stuck there, who could very well starve to death while waiting for rescue. ....... posted by delmoi

Actually, as soon as they disobeyed the legal order to evacuate they were criminals and have no conceivable right to steal from the business owners who obeyed the evacuation order and left the area.
posted by Megafly at 6:39 PM on August 30, 2005


*cough* Suck me dry Megafly.

Not everybody had the means to evacuate the city. Or maybe the geriatrics on the bus that ColdChef got their just desserts as well.
posted by substrate at 6:42 PM on August 30, 2005


Maybe if the National Guard weren't "otherwise occupied" protecting our "freedoms", they could be doing what they are supposed to do during a national or regional disaster, protect property and help find survivors. Another wonderful result of W's oil war. Interesting how his karma is going.....with this latest event, the gateway through which 20% of the U.S oil supply flows, is now a disaster area. Watch prices at the pump soar, this weekend...again!
posted by GreyFoxVT at 6:49 PM on August 30, 2005


on the news tonight (channel 7, los angeles, i believe) they skipped the term 'looting', saying only that people are surviving on food found in abandoned local stores...they showed both blacks and whites...

was really angry at first about this post until i got to the part where these are from different sources...looting/finding tamato/tomato...

but i still think the media is more likely to label the black people as 'looting'...this would make an interesting research project....
posted by sexyrobot at 7:00 PM on August 30, 2005


Personally, despite two different news services being involved, I still see bias.

bairy, great post, and I agree with this comment to an extent; it's not nearly as bad as if both captions came from the same agency, but it still says something about the press. It's interesting to see the word choices of the other captions posted in this thread. I especially enjoyed:
As one person looks through their shopping bag, left, another jumps through a broken window, while leaving a convenience store on the I-10 service road south, in Metairie, La.
A masterpiece of objectivity.
posted by Edgewise at 7:01 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm guessing Megafly looks something like this...


posted by stenseng at 7:21 PM on August 30, 2005


Taking food during such an emergency is not looting. Taking jewelry and armloads of jeans is. So far the only actual looting I've seen on TV (MSNBC) was committed by a mob of African Americans. If I were Jesse Jackson, I imagine this would piss me off for at least three reasons: 1) such footage gives the impression that only black people loot, 2) a black person looting on camera certainly fuels both the latent and patent racism in this country and 3) despite the foregoing, this footage is disturbingly reminiscent of the LA riot looting footage. But of course I'm not Jesse Jackson, I'm a white guy in white New Hampshire and probably, despite my best efforts, guilty myself of latent racism.
posted by Toecutter at 7:34 PM on August 30, 2005


stenseng: What, he's dumb enough to use a suppressor with a revolver? Or a soda can?

filifera: Well it looks to me like the people of New Orleans aren't going to need any financial help from people like us, they seem pretty adept at obtaining all the supplies they're gonna need until the water dries up, and they're striking a blow against oppression at the same time. Who needs affirmative action when you have "uprisings" and "social justice"?

What, exactly, are you railing against here? Are you trying to suggest that "social justice" and "looting" are equivalent concepts?
posted by Coda at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm pissed I'm coming into this so late. Talk about a bunch of people just straight up talking out of their ass. The photos on yahoo's site are an aggregate of several wire services photo streams. Sort of like how google news aggregates stories. The captions as far as I can tell don't get modified when they hit yahoo's site from the original that is transmitted by the photographer. There's no racism at work here - just different "styles" in writing captions.

Several of you can be such tools sometimes.
posted by photoslob at 7:56 PM on August 30, 2005


Good lord, all you "shoot 'em on sight" types. The freaking milk and bread are going to spoil in a couple of days. Taking them out of a washed-out, abandoned store with no electricity to feed hungry people in the aftermath of a horrific natural disaster is hardly a crime.

TVs, jewelry, yes, a crime. Any kind of food or drink, including beer, no, not even close.

(I'll leave cigarettes for the nicotine addicts to defend.)
posted by mediareport at 8:02 PM on August 30, 2005


Why aren't the police ventilating some of these cretins? Shooting looters on sight is an old gulf coast hurricane tradition.

Well, not everyone is an INTERNET TOUGH GUY.
posted by cmonkey at 8:09 PM on August 30, 2005


Aside from the chicken little's who are proclaiming the demise of objective journalism, I'm surprised no one else has commented on the fact that the "finders/borrowers/I'll bring it right back" people appear to only have taken a waterlogged loaf of bread and a soda. The "looters/bad finders/I left my wallet at home" people are dragging a huge garbage bag full of stuff and a container full of Heinekens.

A couple of things about this post bother me:
1 - why is that woman floating her bread home?
2 - why do black people have such poor taste in beer?
3 - why can't we all just get along?
posted by Lactoso at 8:14 PM on August 30, 2005


WTF? Firefox suports the blink tag!??? I'm switching back to Opera this very second!
posted by tiamat at 8:17 PM on August 30, 2005


Actually, considering the rising flood waters and the presumption that many of these people don't have cars...those TVs and stereos aren't going to do them any good. No electricity, no homes, no way to transport them. No one to sell them to. Now CDs, maybe you'd get those out with you, depending on how much you could carry. I bet a lot of the looted goodies will end up abandoned as people get picked up by rescuers or straggle out of town on foot. So, not really worth shooting them for.

What's more worrying is the violence that happens when there's no food to loot; one reporter on CNN talked about how some lady tried to steal the extra gas can off of his car in Mississippi, while he was standing there, so she could gas up her own vehicle. Desperate people stranded without food are going to start doing desperate things.
posted by emjaybee at 8:23 PM on August 30, 2005


Why aren't the police ventilating some of these cretins?

a - because some of those cretins are police

b - they don't have time to fill out the paperwork afterwards
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on August 30, 2005


"2 - why do black people have such poor taste in beer?"

Isn't that Heineken?

At least he's not making off with a case of Colt .45.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2005


I don't think the wet electronics are going to fare too well when all is over. What does a TV that is small enough to be carried sell for anyway?
Theft is theft; I'm sure the heineken guy will be famous for life. Beck's has a good crossover campaign going on, maybe Heineken could get a "worth the wade" theme for the south?
posted by buzzman at 8:41 PM on August 30, 2005


"Another man rolled a mechanized pallet, stacked six feet high with cases of vodka and whiskey. Perched atop the stack was a bewildered toddler."

Dude, New Orleans is awesome!!!
posted by fungible at 8:47 PM on August 30, 2005


Well, not everyone is an INTERNET TOUGH GUY.
posted by cmonkey at 8:09 PM PST on August 30

WTF? Firefox suports the blink tag!??? I'm switching back to Opera this very second!
posted by tiamat at 8:17 PM PST on August 30


Oh come on, that one was worth it. Hell I would have put up with an embedded midi with no controls for that one.
posted by Talanvor at 8:50 PM on August 30, 2005


Coda : "stenseng: What, he's dumb enough to use a suppressor with a revolver? Or a soda can?"

Nah, that he looks like Sledge Hammer (a Dirty Harry parody who sweetalks his gun, which he puts on a silk pillow next to him in bed).

mediareport : "The freaking milk and bread are going to spoil in a couple of days. Taking them out of a washed-out, abandoned store with no electricity to feed hungry people in the aftermath of a horrific natural disaster is hardly a crime."

Not to split hairs, but, yes, it is a crime, but crime is not always bad, and in the case of taking milk, bread, etc., it's a clear case of "not-bad crime". Perhaps what you meant is "it shouldn't be a crime", and I thoroughly agree. This is a crime like having oral sex in some states is a crime: true, but ludicrous.
posted by Bugbread at 9:05 PM on August 30, 2005


"Not to split hairs" → "To split hairs"
posted by Bugbread at 9:09 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm relieved you have managed to use three photographs to make a firm conclusions about the state of race relations in the US.
posted by docgonzo at 9:15 PM on August 30, 2005


(about looters stealing bread and water):

"Actually, as soon as they disobeyed the legal order to evacuate they were criminals and have no conceivable right to steal from the business owners who obeyed the evacuation order and left the area."

Whatever you say, Inspector Javert.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:15 PM on August 30, 2005


These Yahoo pictures are an atrocity. Quit your Flickr accounts RIGHT AWAY.
posted by Rothko at 9:16 PM on August 30, 2005


Black man, black woman, black baby
White man, white woman, white baby
Black man, white woman, black baby
White man, black woman, black baby

posted by meehawl at 9:17 PM on August 30, 2005


Trying to say the law is intact during a disaster of this scale is...mighty abstract. I'd be "looting" too, if I was there. Especially in the case of perishables like food. Eat if before the rats and roaches get to it.
posted by telstar at 9:19 PM on August 30, 2005


Not a crime in any meaningful moral sense, bugbread. You know what I meant.
posted by mediareport at 9:21 PM on August 30, 2005


"Isn't that Heineken?"

A highly over rated sub-beer.

I can think of many other beers (especially in New Orleans) that I'd rather loo...err, borrow to share with my fellow, borrowers/finders. Besides, I hope he either borrows a generator or likes warm beer.
posted by Lactoso at 9:25 PM on August 30, 2005


" WTF? Firefox suports the blink tag!???"

It's only called a blink tag if you're black. If you're white, it's called a "proactive eye-catcher".

Racist.
posted by notmydesk at 9:25 PM on August 30, 2005


mediareport : "Not a crime in any meaningful moral sense, bugbread. You know what I meant."

I do. I'm just anal that way. (Plus, I agree with you, so I wanted to be the one to make the correction, before someone else used it as a negative proof in support of shooting these people)
posted by Bugbread at 9:26 PM on August 30, 2005


I feel sad for the boy with the case of diet pepsi. Hopefully he's got something better in the black bag.
posted by PY at 9:27 PM on August 30, 2005


Send in Governor Ishihara!
posted by strawberryviagra at 9:31 PM on August 30, 2005


In a situtation like this where people have to swim to get the beer/food/candy... whatever. I say have it. It's probably going to go bad anyways, or be unsaleable.
posted by bigmusic at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2005


Tiamat: While I know your saying this (partly) tongue in cheek, you can rectify this monstrosity of a situation.

In the URL bar, type "about:config"
then, in the filter bar, type "blink"
you should see "browser.blink_allowed" and it's set to true.

Double click that shit and you are now blink free.
posted by symbioid at 9:50 PM on August 30, 2005


I say have it. It's probably going to go bad anyways, or be unsaleable.

Totally. and insurance will cover the businesses--Insurance won't feed people.
posted by amberglow at 9:53 PM on August 30, 2005


black people loot!
white people find!
what do others do?
great to come up with "appropriate" verbs for EVERY race

Cant wait for the "news" to come up with good verbs
what, will asian people "ninja" loaves of bread?

scary stuff, I dont even want to venture any further to try out verbs for arabs, latinos, jews. mm the mind boggles.
posted by mikojava at 9:57 PM on August 30, 2005


this trying to loot a children's hospital tho, is just wrong--they should stick to stores. (unless they're just looking for shelter?)
posted by amberglow at 9:57 PM on August 30, 2005


The "found" beer is probably the only drinkable beverage around. The water mains are all contaminated.

As for the looting of electronics, jewelry, etc., I don't think it's justifiable. However, if your entire house were destroyed, your priorities and values w/r/t such things might change...
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:58 PM on August 30, 2005


I sure do love "finding" new movies and games and mp3s on the bittorrent sites!

Thank goodness I'm white!
posted by newfers at 10:08 PM on August 30, 2005


My wife couldn't find her hair pins this morning. Eventually, she did find them, on the coffee table. My question is: she's Asian, so should I say "she couldn't loot her hair pins" instead? Or should I go with "she couldn't ninja her hair pins", as per mikojava's suggestion?
posted by Bugbread at 10:17 PM on August 30, 2005


Food, water, consumables, baby products like diapers...fair game in a disaster like this.

Hard goods; electronics, consumer items, antiques and similar things that are being looted...no excuse for that shit except base criminality. Really. Stealing just for the sake of stealing is wrong no matter what the circumstances.

Stealing for survival is an ethically defendable position. Stealing for profit is just criminal. Stealing from some sense of entitlement is not only criminal, but flat out bugfuck insane.

The looters should be ashamed. We should be ashamed for them. There are bodies floating around on the streets, there are people trapped, there are children dying, and all these criminals care about is grabbing arm loads of loot before order is restored.

It's a brilliant example, for the rest of us, of what would happen if this country were to lose power for a couple of days. If you think they'll stop with beer and TVs, you're naive. If they can't clear out the New Orleans area in a day or two, the looters will be robbing houses, they'll be killing people in their way, they'll feel entitled to everything they can lay their hands on and that someone else can't defend.

This, my friends, is the real war in America. The war of the haves, the havenots and the gimme what you gots. It's people like those looters that are the reason rational survivalists have guns.
posted by dejah420 at 10:33 PM on August 30, 2005


LOL good one bugbread =)

I think we should institue race appropriate verbs for all situations!

yeah it's good that she wasnt african american or she'd be looting her own hair pins, think how confusing that would be.
posted by mikojava at 10:33 PM on August 30, 2005


rational survivalists, heh heh heh. Good 'un.

Glad to hear they won't stoop to looting, though.
posted by hackly_fracture at 10:43 PM on August 30, 2005


How can anybody justify stealing like that? they are all looting.
Our men and women in Iraq have been authorized to shoot looters in since May of 2003, in 1900 Galveston over 75 men were shot for looting one was found to have severed fingers with rings on them in his pockets. Police and soldiers killed looters for Celia in 1970, in 1977 New York police shot looters during a power outage. The argument that some people only loot things that they need may be true, but these vermin who work alongside those people don't care, they will take anything. In the past, the only thing that stops the leeches is a vigilant armed populace, or troops and police willing to stop them.
posted by Megafly at 10:46 PM on August 30, 2005


Taking food during such an emergency is not looting. Taking jewelry and armloads of jeans is. So far the only actual looting I've seen on TV (MSNBC) was committed by a mob of African Americans.

To be fair, I suspect that 80-90% of the people in New Orleans right now are African Americans. There are a lot of poor black folks in that city.

2 - why do black people have such poor taste in beer?

Hey, I like Heineken! (but I am black).

Dejah420: Calm down.
posted by delmoi at 10:46 PM on August 30, 2005


Megafly,

I sense contradiction!

or is a quick shot to the head ok, but torture bad?
posted by hackly_fracture at 10:53 PM on August 30, 2005


I sometimes drink bad beer, and I'm white. Actually, I should correct that, I merely borrow bad beer from the bottle...
posted by ob at 10:54 PM on August 30, 2005


Megafly : "How can anybody justify stealing like that? they are all looting."

Unrelated statements. I can, for example, justify a starving man locked in a cage stealing a roll of bread from his serial killer captor. And it is still stealing. You can justify looting and still have it be looting.

As for "how", well, simple: you have perishable food items in a store that belong to the store but will not be used by the store, and will in fact not be extracted from the store until they have perished. You have people who have no food and will die without said food. I find it moral for a person who needs food to stay alive to take that food from someone who has no intentions to use that food, and who is planning (for lack of a better expression) to let that food spoil and be thrown away. That's how I can justify it.

Megafly : "The argument that some people only loot things that they need may be true, but these vermin who work alongside those people don't care, they will take anything."

Er, right, which is why people are railing against the TV thieves and supporting the food thieves. Seems pretty simple.
posted by Bugbread at 10:59 PM on August 30, 2005


Well, there's such a thing as gathering provisions, and then there's this:

Looters swarmed the Wal-mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, often bypassing the food and drink section to steal wide-screen TVs, jewelry, bicycles and computers. Watching the sordid display and shaking his head in disgust, one firefighter said of the scene: "It’s a f---- hurricane, what are you do with a basketball goal?"
posted by ColdChef at 10:59 PM on August 30, 2005


Megafly - why don't you read the Ishihara link - hundreds of Koreans were hunted and murdered after the 1928 Kanto earthquake in Japan by ultra-nationalist vigilantes.

Is this the kind of trade-off you condone for protecting largely useless damaged property?
posted by strawberryviagra at 11:01 PM on August 30, 2005


Things are gonna get really ugly in NO over the next couple weeks. No drinkable water, no food deliveries, and a lot of desperate people. There will be any number of deaths from dehydration and possibly starvation... and unfortunately too many from people killing each other over food and water.

Power is going to be out there for between one and two months, according to reports I saw on TV tonight. The city is currently unlivable, and until power returns will remain so. I hope the military units that are currently on their way arrive soon.

Megafly, you're one badass mofo, aren't ya? How 'bout you scamper on down to NO and start shooting people, huh? That'll show 'em!

ColdChef, re: your link... some people are just assholes. In this instance, shaking one's head at their stupidity is the proper response... certainly far more appropriate than shooting them. Basketball goal, indeed. The courts are under water!!
posted by zoogleplex at 11:03 PM on August 30, 2005


ColdChef,

yes, indeed. Point well taken. Shall we shoot them, then?

Just as bugbread belabors the obvious, let me add: one who commits a crime in a hellscape is still in a hellscape. Shit, in similar circumstances, I might figure I might as well hang onto a basketball goal. Makes up for the losing fucking everything else.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:05 PM on August 30, 2005


Hackly,
If you can't see the difference between maintaining order during a disaster, and torturing a man to death by frying him on an asphalt surface for shoplifting. I hope your neighborhood never gets overun by rioters or looters in the future.

Some people around here would apparently invite them in and let them help themselves to your possesions. --Oh, you need this, by all means take it by force.--
I would also emphasize that the people who are healthy enough for looting are self-evidently capable of leaving and are therefore easily shown to be in violation of the evacuation order in the first place.
posted by Megafly at 11:06 PM on August 30, 2005


Two things (and feel free to read whatever you want to in this):

1. A member of FEMA pointed out to me today that when he looks at pictures of people being rescued, he notices that the victims are nearly always black, but the rescuers are always white. I believe that he was making a point about who was the problem and who was the solution, but I was trying not to read that much into it. Oh, and before anyone calls him an ignorant redneck, I should point out he's from Chicago.

2. I spoke to an ambulance driver this morning who was in New Orleans and personally witnessed a group of black youths pull a guy out of a limo and shoot him at blank range. Then, they climbed into the limo and tore down the street. He doesn't want to go back, even though his job will require it.

It's a fucking warzone down there. The ambulance driver saw combat in Africa and he said that this was the worst side of mankind he had ever seen.
posted by ColdChef at 11:08 PM on August 30, 2005


Like I said. Really ugly. *hangs head, sad*
posted by zoogleplex at 11:10 PM on August 30, 2005


I realize how shitty my last post sounds. Let me be clear that I don't condone any opinion about the connection between race and...whatever. I'm just down here and want you to see what I see.
posted by ColdChef at 11:10 PM on August 30, 2005


I hope your neighborhood never gets overun by rioters or looters in the future.

Thanks, dude! Me, too! Similar love goes out to your neighborhood.

Some people around here would apparently invite them in and let them help themselves to your possesions. --Oh, you need this, by all means take it by force.--

Absolutely. That's exactly what we were saying.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:15 PM on August 30, 2005


Megafly... there is currently only one bridge open out of the city. It is not currently accessible from all parts of the city; large numbers of people are cut off from exit by 15 or 20 feet of water. So your remark about people being "self-evidently capable of leaving" is not in line with the facts on the ground.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:16 PM on August 30, 2005


look, i think that some of y'all are missing the point: i'd bet a bottle of looted Glenlivet that the vast majority of the folks who stayed during the storm did so because they had no other options: no car, no place to go, and sometimes a complete lack of understanding of possible resources and how to get access to them. (extreme poverty can sometimes make folks crazy, too.)

the fact that folks bound by those limitations loot ridiculously useless items in the face of ... a really bad situation... oughtn't be that surprising. hence, reports of taking makeup (which is expensive and a luxury to someone poor), televisions and other electronics... i especially note how sad it is to see someone hungry looting soda instead of something that actually could offer some nutrition. (although i have seen ghetto grocery stores before, and it's possible there wasn't much to take.)

it's like folks who grouse about food stamp users buying junk food instead of produce--IMO, you've got to take into account what poverty does to a mind, and what USian culture preaches about "necessity" versus "luxury." what do you do when "god" has taken everything you own in the world, you have no way to recoup that loss (no insurance and no options), and "god" opens up the doors of your neighborhood electronics or jewelry store? especially when you see Joe-who's-an-asshole from down the street making off with a big-ass TV?
posted by RedEmma at 11:18 PM on August 30, 2005


Also, don't think for a moment that the rescuers don't resent the hell out of the people they are rescuing.

As a guy told me today, "No one can say they didn't have a chance to go to a shelter. We rode up and down these streets for two days. If they would have listened, they would have lived."

I know the argument is being made that some people couldn't afford to leave or that they didn't have access to a car. That's bullshit. People sat on their porches and waved off the buses that could have taken them to safety. I have all the sadness in the world for the loss of lives down there, but I'm more angry that I have friends who are risking their lives to save these people. I'm sorry if that makes me a monster.
posted by ColdChef at 11:19 PM on August 30, 2005


Jesus. I'm sorry. I'm fucking exhausted.

Look, the truth is, if I was down there (no matter whether it was my fault or not), I'd probably steal food to survive, too. These people don't deserve to get shot.

Neither do the flatscreen people. Who can judge the actions of people operating under those kinds of conditions, plus if you add in the mob mentality...

Nope, you know what? Fuck them. I know I'm bouncing all over the place here, but when I think about the fucking resources being expended fighting these assholes from doing more destruction, when it could be used to evacuate people...fuck them all. To hell with them.
posted by ColdChef at 11:26 PM on August 30, 2005


Fuck, I'm going to bed.
posted by ColdChef at 11:26 PM on August 30, 2005


ColdChef,

no monster, you. I wish I could say more; I know it's been the worst of weeks.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:28 PM on August 30, 2005


No, your attitude is understandable, ColdChef. It's not politically correct these days to just straight out say that some people are phenomenally and willfully ignorant, stupid, stubborn, arrogant, and pretty much not right in the head... which makes them do phenomenally stupid things like not evacuate their city in the face of its complete destruction.

That such people would become desperate at finding their denial and ignorance has stranded them in a place where they're likely to lose their lives through violence, starvation or dehydration is not surprising, and it's pathetically tragic. Many of them simply will not get rescued, and will become victims of their own stupid stubbornness.

Welcome to humanity.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:29 PM on August 30, 2005


1. A member of FEMA pointed out to me today that when he looks at pictures of people being rescued, he notices that the victims are nearly always black, but the rescuers are always white. I believe that he was making a point about who was the problem and who was the solution, but I was trying not to read that much into it. Oh, and before anyone calls him an ignorant redneck, I should point out he's from Chicago.

I also noticed that most of the images of people who were able to get out of the city to safety were of white people, while those who were unable to leave and had to go to the dome were predominately white. Some of the people in their homes didn't go to the Dome because of the long lines (last people in at 10:30, well after the rains and winds were bad), and fears of being trapped with so many people. I had worried at one point in the night about the Dome possibly collapsing, making it much more of a deathtrap than a house where you could get on the roof. (Especially after people started talking about possible problems.) If you had no car, what would you have done?

What I take away from this observation (rescuers vs victims) is that black people were more likely to be trapped in New Orleans, and that white people are more likely to be working in emergency services.

There has been looting, and it's been bad - there have also been lots of local people coming to the rescue of other people - I've seen footage of young men helping older people irregardless of race, heard of able-bodied people who stayed behind in their house to care for elderly and disabled people who couldn't even go to the Dome. For all the foolhards, there are more people who felt like they didn't have any choice.
posted by jb at 11:31 PM on August 30, 2005


Sorry - that should be

" while those who were unable to leave and had to go to the dome were predominately black."
posted by jb at 11:31 PM on August 30, 2005


Megafly : "Some people around here would apparently invite them in and let them help themselves to your possesions. --Oh, you need this, by all means take it by force.-- "

If I had a pantry full of food, and some folks made homeless by the storm knocked on the door and asked for it, and I told them "No, fuck you, I'm keeping it untouched down there until it rots, at which point I'll throw it away", then I hope they'd give me an extra kick in the ribs while they carried the milk cartons out the door.

Now, my TV? My computer? My yo-yo? Fuck that. Those don't go bad, and they don't need them to live. But food which otherwise I'm just planning to store unused until it's curdled or full of maggots? Totally different story.
posted by Bugbread at 11:43 PM on August 30, 2005


A member of FEMA pointed out to me today that when he looks at pictures of people being rescued, he notices that the victims are nearly always black,

Your friend presumably doesn't spend a lot of time on mountain-climbiing detail.
posted by tannhauser at 12:23 AM on August 31, 2005


I heard a short interview with Mayor of New Orleans C Ray Nagin earlier today where he made a statement about the looting that went something along the lines of 'Look, we're in life saving mode. People need to eat. People need fresh water. The police need to focus on helping people and doing search and rescue, not protecting a bunch of damaged goods. I can't fault people that are scavenging food and water and supplies to survive.' and basically stopped just short of condoning this "looting" for survival goods. I'm heavily paraphrasing my recounting of Nagin's statement, but that's the gist of it. He seemed pretty pissed that CNN or whatever cable news network I was watching at the time kept harping on and on about the looting.

And they are harping on and on about the looting. They love the fear and fantasy of a good looting session. On one hand it titillates the "haves" with a bunch of fear and loathing about how it could happen to them, to their businesses, homes, and neighborhoods. And on the other hand it titillates the "have nots" with fantasies of what they could grab for themselves in a similar situation. Free food, free booze, free diapers, or even something nice and useless like a $5000 flat screen TV.

The food thing I understand easily. I even can understand the clothes and everything else. It may be stupid and selfish and totally unjustifiable in our system of morals, but for a lot of people, this will be the only known chance to ever even think of having something "nice".

Perhaps that says something about human nature and greed. Perhaps it says something about the system and authority we currently live under. Perhaps it says something about rigged systems, prejudice, poverty, or capitalism. Or a little of all of the above.

Perhaps we don't see looting like this in "white and/or affluent" neighborhoods simply because they already have some nice things, and perhaps because they are better educated, or perhaps because they are the system, or are at least not disenfranchised by it. Perhaps we do see looting in "minority and/or impoverished" neighborhoods because of a lack of education, or a lack of wealth, or whatever.

As uncomfortable as it may be to face, almost all of the US is just about 72 hours away from very similar set of circumstances under the right conditions. Hell, I saw it with my own eyes in Los Angeles just because they acquited a bunch of violent cops that beat up some stupid crackhead. It doesn't take an earthquake or hurricane. It simply takes some needs, wants, and maybe a little anger or injustice.

I can say one thing about all that. Greed is most certainly not monopolized by any one race or economic class or neighborhood.

Greed is greed, and whether you steal with lobbyists, laws and corporate shenanigans like Enron or you steal with a brick, a gun, or some muscle - you're still a thief.

Things may have changed in the last few hours but at that point I had yet to see the Red Cross in action distributing food and water on the ground in any news sources online or broadcast.

Yeah, sure, these people should have left. Or they should have already had emergency supplies. But it's pretty hard to save up enough for supplies when you already can barely afford milk and bread on a weekly basis without a catastrophe interfering.

Not to degrade the enormity of this disaster, but there's already an ongoing catastrophe of poverty in America, and it's been going on for decades or even centuries. It's very difficult to have a capitalist, democractic society without poverty. The base of the pyramid has to rest somewhere.

And localised, physical catastrophes like this just make it worse.

We could easily debate the relative intelligence levels of those in poverty, make generalizations, make broad sweeping statements about whose fault it may be on one side of the fence of "haves" and the other side of the fence of "have nots", but the somewhere down that chain of blame the source of that failure resides on each of us.

We're either a society, or we're just pretending to be a society. To me, lately it seems a lot like we're just pretending to be a society.
posted by loquacious at 12:25 AM on August 31, 2005


well said, loquacious.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:57 AM on August 31, 2005


zoogleplex beat me to the punch.
posted by jtron at 1:31 AM on August 31, 2005


That bread's not going to be good to eat.
posted by aerify at 1:59 AM on August 31, 2005


Well, not to belabor things, but...

"As one person looks through their shopping bag..."

Said person looks somewhat fair skinned to me.
posted by snarkywench at 3:00 AM on August 31, 2005


Ah, well, I missed the same link upthread. Sorry about that.
posted by snarkywench at 3:02 AM on August 31, 2005


I don't blame them for taking stuff now that they're stuck there, but they shouldn't be there in the first place. The residents should have been given a deadline for leaving. After that, send in the buses and tell them to get on or get arrested. Instead, rescue workers now are doing unnecessary work and taking unnecessary risks to save them.
posted by pracowity at 3:26 AM on August 31, 2005


Or, y'know, you could just not rescue them. Or we could just assume the best and rescue them and do whatever can be done. People are stubborn. Or stupid. Plus, they've called for mandatory evacuations all over the gulf coast and Atlantic many times with less than impressive results almost as many times, and people remember that.

I'm not saying it's justified or unjustified, but simply that people do indeed remember all those supposedly cried wolves, and then choose not to go next time around.

If some federal agency rolled through my neighborhood and told me there was a mandatory, no argument call for evacuation or face arrest, I'm not entirely sure I'd be pleased about getting on that bus.

But there are all kinds of valid reasons why someone would chose to stay, from economics to logistics, just like there are a large number of valid reasons for taking risks, or even wanting to commit suicide.

I'm not saying it helps any, either. Or that those that should have or could have left deserve to be rescued.

But how can you tell? Where's the wheat? Where's the chaff? Where's the personal responsibility? Where are the true victims. We can't tell. That whole area is chaos and confusion right now.

Without a case-by-case basis with lots of hard facts and concrete, known decision trees, we might as well say "We shouldn't have burned as much fossil fuels/carbon. Global warming caused this!" which might even be true, or we might as well say "Someone should have killed that fucking butterfly before it set off those vortices that started this whole thing!" which might also be true, but at the moment it's worthless data. Save it for later when we can apply it.
posted by loquacious at 3:44 AM on August 31, 2005


Do you think there is some truth to the idea there could be statistically significant differences between the racial makeup of the looting and that of the non-looting populations in the Katrina-hit areas?
posted by shoos at 3:59 AM on August 31, 2005


And if there is, would it be wrong to point it out?
posted by shoos at 4:00 AM on August 31, 2005


As long as it also wasn't wrong to point out that these same areas are often underfunded, undereducated, or otherwise disenfranchised, no.

I don't mean to disavow any personal responsibility, but I don't mean to totally eschew social responsibility either.

Besides, It's never a direct racial correlation. It's much, much more complex than that.

Didn't I already say this?
posted by loquacious at 4:09 AM on August 31, 2005


"What do you do...when you see Joe-who's-an-asshole from down the street making off with a big-ass TV?"

Refrain from following suit and feel good that you are not at all like Joe?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:19 AM on August 31, 2005


I'm not entirely sure I'd be pleased about getting on that bus.

No one said they'd be pleased, not if they wanted to stay, but I'm sure almost everyone who stayed had no idea what they were in for or they would have been first in line for the bus.

Sometimes an evacuation is an evacuation. There's a bomb (or a fire or a gas leak or a gunman or...) in the building -- get out or we'll make you get out, because we don't want you to make the emergency worse.
posted by pracowity at 4:29 AM on August 31, 2005


pracowity: I don't blame them for taking stuff now that they're stuck there, but they shouldn't be there in the first place. The residents should have been given a deadline for leaving. After that, send in the buses and tell them to get on or get arrested.

The stories I've heard from people who stayed suggested that a lack of transportation and a lack of a place to go to were major issues.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:45 AM on August 31, 2005


If you'll pardon a slight derail, I wonder how bad things have gotten for the NOans who wound up staying at the Superdome. I'd read somewhere that it might be a few days yet before they're allowed to leave. It must be pretty miserable in there by now.
posted by alumshubby at 5:34 AM on August 31, 2005


Just substitute liberate for looting or find.
posted by MrMulan at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2005


Listening to the radio on the way into work today I heard a rescue worker say that during rescue efforts yesterday, citizens shot at rescue workers who, they felt, were not acting quickly enough. Also, he said that another rescue worker shot and killed a resident who was shooting at their boat because his neighbor was rescued before he was.
posted by ColdChef at 6:13 AM on August 31, 2005


bugbread: If I had a pantry full of food, and some folks made homeless by the storm knocked on the door and asked for it, and I told them "No, fuck you, I'm keeping it untouched down there until it rots, at which point I'll throw it away", then I hope they'd give me an extra kick in the ribs while they carried the milk cartons out the door.

Just to play devil's advocate, what if you had a pantry of food, and there were tens of people made homeless by the storm outside with guns, demanding you give them all the food you have? You certainly can't feed all of them, and you're not in a position to decide who gets what. And you have to worry about yourself as well; how are you going to tell those people you can't give them all food because you have to feed your own children?

A disaster fucks everything up. You don't get a choice as simple as "give food to desperate homeless people" or "keep food in pantry until it rots." (Strangely, though this started out as "devil's advocate," it's come around to essentially argue the same point you're making.)
posted by chrominance at 7:24 AM on August 31, 2005


Thanks for the updates, ColdChef. Glad to know you're safe, and I hope the rescuers stay safe, too.

Upthread, loquacious said: We're either a society, or we're just pretending to be a society. To me, lately it seems a lot like we're just pretending to be a society.

I would agree wholeheartedly, and submit that Exhibit A is the person taking a computer or 36" TV out of a store in New Orleans. Food and necessities I can understand (after all, if you need it, and you can't buy it even if you wanted to, what are you to do?) But stealing luxury items simply because you can is abhorrent. Pretending to be a society, indeed.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:29 AM on August 31, 2005


All this talk of shooting looters has got the Yahoo (i.e. AP) captioners in a tizzy. Now we have A New Orleans police officer holding a shoot gun in the latest entry.

Sorry, but it calls up even more stereotypes:
What you got there, Clem? A glue gun?
Nope, Zeke, this here is one-a-them shoot guns!

posted by soyjoy at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2005


Damn ColdChef those are some fucked up stories. Did the rescuers have anything *good* to say about the rescued?

Does NO have a large population of untreated mentally-ill? As much poverty as LA has, I'd be inclined to guess yes. Not to let actual assholes off the hook (like the ones who shot the limo driver), but that's such irrational behavior (shooting at rescuers??) that I have to suspect at least some of them were off their rockers. Not that that makes it any easier for the rescuers.

And the news tells me all I don't need to know about looting, but nothing about where they're going to put all these people for the next 3 months. A friend in Atlanta said that they were being told to expect lots of refugees as it's the next closest city. They already have people who are running out of money for hotels and food. It's obvious we're going to have to set up refugee camps and shelters outside of the city, but there's maddeningly little detail about that that I've seen. Which makes me worry that there isn't much of a plan...and more people are going to die while authorities dither.
posted by emjaybee at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2005


I know ths is a bit late in the discussion, but people were asking for an example of AP "finders"?
http://news.yahoo.com/photos/ss/events/ts/080304tropicalweathe/im:/050831/480/wxs11908310010;_ylt=AsvjahkNOreBSQliZ7OLjcdiWscF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3dmhrOGVvBHNlYwNzc20-

(sorry, don't lnow how to link within thread)
posted by MadOwl at 7:41 AM on August 31, 2005


Learn some HTML.

Like so.
posted by aerify at 7:44 AM on August 31, 2005


MadOwl, you can click on the link button at the bottom of the comment field and paste the URL in there.
posted by sciurus at 7:48 AM on August 31, 2005


To be more helpful than aerify, simply put the link within angle brackets like this:
[a href="http://www.link.com"]Whatever text you want here[/a]
(but use angle brackets <> instead of the regular brackets [] I used)

(on preview: sciurus's tip works well, too)
posted by pardonyou? at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2005


I've been scanning the ap wire this morning, and I found quite a few pictures were there were black, people, white people, etc., all taking stuff from stores and most of the photos don't mention "looting."

This was the cutline on the picture of a black man:

"A man carries bags of food from a flooded convenience store following Hurricane Katrina Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer)"

The photog didn't write that one, but this was on the photo of a from what I could see, a white guy and indistinguishable people in the background:

Looters make off with merchandise from several downtown businesses in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina hit the area. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The photog did write that cutline. From what I can see, it's a lot of different people writing different cutlines, though it seems the photos are all being filed through the NY National Desk, but again, there are so many sitting on the wire, I haven't looked through all of them.
posted by nospecialfx at 7:58 AM on August 31, 2005


Don't know if that sheds any light on the situation or not.
posted by nospecialfx at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2005


strawberryviagra:

Regarding your Ishihara link, "sangokujin" does not mean "nigger". The author of that site has a clear anti-Japan bias and has no idea what he is talking about. The word is an archaic term that means "third-country national" and was used to refer to people from North Korea.

Granted, Ishihara isn't a very nice guy (I've heard him make idiotic comments about his dislike of Mickey Mouse at an entertainment convention) but your sources are equally misinformed.
posted by aerify at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2005


Also, please don't link to answers.com, which is just ripping off Wikipedia's content.
posted by aerify at 8:09 AM on August 31, 2005


we're just pretending to be a society

Part of an ongoing ideological social engineering project...

There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first.
-- Margaret Thatcher, October 31 1987
posted by meehawl at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2005


(CBSNews was showing both whites and blacks looting, and called it as such.)
posted by cass at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2005


What loquacious and redemma said, with emphasis. Also, before we start shooting people for taking TVs and not bread, on the basis that bread will go bad and TVs will not, realize that those TVs will actually go bad and will almost certainly be junked. Flood damage like that is not repairable and the mega stores won't even bother to try. They'll truck everything out to the landfill. We saw it here in Asheville last fall - there is no saving silt covered goods even when the water recedes. Even if they still work, nobody wants to buy them. They're damaged goods & it's a lot easier for the store owner/corporation to just toss everything, get insurance and start from scratch than to pick through the rubble. So what you're seeing is the throw away society at work, in more ways than one.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2005


Since reading this October 2001 disaster piece I'd been urging my parents (who had their honeymoon in New Orleans and seem to retain a special fondness for it) to revisit the city before it vanished or changed entirely...
If a big, slow-moving hurricane crossed the Gulf of Mexico on the right track, it would drive a sea surge that would drown New Orleans under 20 feet of water.
posted by meehawl at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2005


Megafly writes "I would also emphasize that the people who are healthy enough for looting are self-evidently capable of leaving"

Wouldn't that also require, say, a car that's not underwater and an actual useable road out of town?
posted by clevershark at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2005


what clevershark said.
posted by amberglow at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2005


Some shemp at Der Spiegel "surfed" by this page and wrote about it.
posted by shoos at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2005


Y'all,

In New Orleans there are many, many people who identify/are identified as "black," yet due to generations of mixed marriage (okay, mixed fucking) have extremely light skin and "Caucasian"-appearing features. They're called Creoles. In the second linked photo (the "white people") the woman in the foreground very possibly could fall into this category.

Not that I necessarily disagree with the OP's point. I'm just saying. Apologies also if someone already brought this up, I didn't read all 175 posts.
posted by scratch at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2005


Foosnark writes ", if it was a stereo system I'd call it looting, but food from a flooded grocery store where nobody is going to return to work for months and insurance will pay for is fair game."

I was going to rant in agreement but bugbread has got it covered.

jonmc writes "The guy getting beer could be accused of having weird priorities, but shit, after a storm like that I'd crave a cold one myself, maybe."

Well, maybe a warm frothy one, English style.

tannhauser writes "Your friend presumably doesn't spend a lot of time on mountain-climbiing detail."

Wait, there are mountians in NO. Why doesn't everyone just go there.

pracowity writes "After that, send in the buses and tell them to get on or get arrested."

Well it can take a good half dozen cops to arrest someone who is resisting; Where is that police presence going to come from. This is wear the Guard would have been useful. Of course using military forces against the population is frowned upon and the Guard would have been booking it even if they had been there in the first place.

ColdChef writes "a rescue worker say that during rescue efforts yesterday, citizens shot at rescue workers who, they felt, were not acting quickly enough."

Whoa! Someone got moved to the bottom of the rescue priority list.
posted by Mitheral at 9:00 AM on August 31, 2005


Can someone explain to me why these photographs demonstrate racism as opposed to reverse sexism?
posted by shoos at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2005


"Finding" versus "looting" makes it to Wonkette.
posted by ericb at 9:08 AM on August 31, 2005


My wife (former newspaper copy editor) says that AP photos come with their own captions, written by the photographers -- and it is standard procedure for newspapers to rewrite them, because photographers usually suck at writing.
posted by Foosnark at 9:21 AM on August 31, 2005


clevershark writes "Wouldn't that also require, say, a car that's not underwater and an actual useable road out of town?"

Is walking out of the flood a possibility Or are the parts of town these pictures are coming from cut off from the interstate by deeper water? A healthy person (and if your stealing a TV your healthy enough :) ) can walk an easy 4 miles an hour, say 2 when pushing thru a lake.

soyjoy writes "Now we have A New Orleans police officer holding a shoot gun in the latest entry."

Pretty obvious spell check induced error, should read shotgun.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2005


realize that those TVs will actually go bad and will almost certainly be junked. Flood damage like that is not repairable and the mega stores won't even bother to try. They'll truck everything out to the landfill.

Bull. The footage I saw was of a perfectly dry Wal-Mart and a perfectly dry Walgreen's. Nothing wrong with those TVs/computers, etc. They were not flood damaged, and did not need to be repaired.

To say nothing, of course, of the questionable morality of the argument: "Well, I should have it because someone else may junk it later." At the very least, the product's absence will make collecting insurance difficult.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:33 AM on August 31, 2005


Watching the sordid display and shaking his head in disgust, one firefighter said of the scene: "It’s a f---- hurricane, what are you [going to] do with a basketball goal?"

Obviously you're not a golfer.
posted by ktoad at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2005


Judging by his hair, I'd say he was looking in to the hurricane when it made landfall.

(Thanks, volfan.)
posted by nlindstrom at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2005


The footage I saw, pardonyou?, involved people practically swimming in and out of stores. Trust me, that stuff will be junked. Have you ever been through a major flood? Do you know what it looks like when the water recedes? The insurance agents pretty much take your word for it - they don't have time to go through every inventory any more than the store owners have time to go through and try to clean and fix each and every item.

As far as the morality, I'm not defending looting. I'm just pointing out that we, as a society, throw out a lot of stuff.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2005


Staff members at Children's Hospital huddled with sick youngsters and waited in vain for help to arrive as looters tried to break through the locked door

Those poor, misunderstood looters.

Pretending to be a society, Exhibit B.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:42 AM on August 31, 2005


Black people "Loot".
White people "Find".

City Officials "Empty".
City officials were taking advantage of the state of emergency to empty an Office Depot, which already had been looted, of supplies they needed for a temporary command center. During a state of emergency, authorities have broad powers to take private supplies and buildings for their use.
posted by meehawl at 10:51 AM on August 31, 2005


City Officials do not appear to be breaking the law here meehawl any more than they would if they commandered your fishing boat to rescue people.
posted by Mitheral at 11:28 AM on August 31, 2005


Pardonyou, the problem with riding those high-horses is that they tend to leave in inordinate amount of horseshit in their wake.

just fyi
posted by stenseng at 11:29 AM on August 31, 2005


If by "high horse" you mean my opinion that people shouldn't steal luxury items even in times of crisis, all I can say is: "Giddyup!"
posted by pardonyou? at 11:48 AM on August 31, 2005


What I take away from this observation (rescuers vs victims) is that black people were more likely to be trapped in New Orleans, and that white people are more likely to be working in emergency services.

Exactly. My reaction was white people from Chicago have more education and opportunities than black people from New Orleans. No big surprise, there.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:00 PM on August 31, 2005


God Hates Mardi Gras... And the Jew-made movie "Biloxi Blues"... Buncha sinners.... That's what it is, I tell you what...

As far as taking groceries from stores... what other recourse do they have? Leave exact change on the counter? Shit... I'm outta food, need some hydrating beverages... no shopkeeper, it's mine.

TV's and such... well those people are just fucktards.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:31 PM on August 31, 2005


God Hates Mardi Gras... And the Jew-made movie "Biloxi Blues"... Buncha sinners.... That's what it is, I tell you what...

I can only imagine what the God Squad would be saying, if the hurricane had been this weekend - Labor Day Weekend - and the annual Southern Decadence celebration (aka "Gay Mardi Gras").
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on August 31, 2005


Oops ...looks like they're already claiming such:
"An evangelical Christian group...is blaming gays for hurricane Katrina.

Repent America says that God 'destroyed' New Orleans because of Southern Decadence, the gay festival that was to have taken place in the city over the Labor Day weekend....

'Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city.' [Repent America director Michael] Marcavage said. 'From "Girls Gone Wild" to "Southern Decadence", New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. May it never be the same.'

'Let us pray for those ravaged by this disaster. However, we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long,' Marcavage said."
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on August 31, 2005


what, will asian people "ninja" loaves of bread?

this just in:
"Iraqi Insurgents Jihad Loaves of Bread From Local Market"
posted by radiosig at 1:09 PM on August 31, 2005


Those poor, victimized Walmarts and their shareholders. They're so defenseless without their greeters there to defend them.

The trouble with the poor is they have no sense of decency. We pay them to clean our pools and fight our wars. We try SO FUCKING HARD to be politically correct with the black ones. Yet still they loot us given a chance. Where's their good Christian values? What is this, Iraq? Hell, shoot 'em all.

Signed- Bush and Dick- Fucktards in charge.
posted by efbrazil at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2005




Here's another gem I found:
"He's not looting the beer, he's rescuing the beer"
posted by pez_LPhiE at 1:34 PM on August 31, 2005


Oops, pez_LPhiE, look up-thread.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on August 31, 2005


City Officials do not appear to be breaking the law

When you make the laws, it's easier to avoid breaking them.

Property is theft.
posted by meehawl at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2005


Pretty obvious spell check induced error, should read shotgun.

What? No. You're kidding. "Shotgun?" Ya think? Huh.

Well, that must be some kind of crazy fancy newfangled word for spellcheck to never've heard of it, is all I can say.
posted by soyjoy at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2005


Hmm... thinkin' mebbe I oughta slither down to the Big Easy and rescue me some fine cut diamonds.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:26 PM on August 31, 2005


Mitheral writes "A healthy person (and if your stealing a TV your healthy enough :) ) can walk an easy 4 miles an hour, say 2 when pushing thru a lake. "

Sure, but then you shouldn't forget that you're pushing through water, dead bodies, untold amounts of feces, gasoline, various chemicals, and whatever the current is throwing your way. Also you wouldn't be able to walk through canals and rivers.
posted by clevershark at 3:25 PM on August 31, 2005


Plus, it's hard to walk quickly when you're carrying a heavy TV.
posted by Vidiot at 4:03 PM on August 31, 2005


clevershark writes "Also you wouldn't be able to walk through canals and rivers."

That's what I'm trying to get a handle on, are there big wadeable patches surounded by unwadeable depths?
posted by Mitheral at 4:55 PM on August 31, 2005


Here's comments by the photographer who wrote the "find" caption:

"I wrote the caption about the two people who 'found' the items. I believed in my opinion, that they did simply find them, and not 'looted' them in the definition of the word. The people were swimming in chest deep water, and there were other people in the water, both white and black. I looked for the best picture. there were a million items floating in the water - we were right near a grocery store that had 5+ feet of water in it. it had no doors. the water was moving, and the stuff was floating away. These people were not ducking into a store and busting down windows to get electronics. They picked up bread and cokes that were floating in the water. They would have floated away anyhow. I wouldn't have taken in, because I wouldn't eat anything that's been in that water. But I'm not homeless. (well, technically I am right now.)"

More info at this thread on Sportsshooter.com.
posted by photoslob at 6:24 PM on August 31, 2005


That some have-nots now having upsets some haves makes it all the sweeter for me.
posted by DuoJet at 7:05 PM on August 31, 2005


Thankyou Aerify-sensei, I promise to be a good poster in the future.

I was living in Tokyo when Ishihara made his reference to the Kanto earthquake looters. I think that despite the literal meaning of the Japanese term Sangokujin, it is fair to say that it is a racist term that implies a very similar concept to the "N" word - particularly in Ishihara's use of it. And most foreigners felt uneasy about it at the time - not least the Koreans.

Ishihara did and has made other comments like this - despite the brevity and passion of the site, I wouldn't say it was necessarily misinformed, nor anti Japanese - just anti-Ishihara. And neither is the reference to the Kanto earthquake on the other link. I wasn't aware that answers stole wiki's content - it was just a quick reference that seemed to be authoritative so I used it.

But thanks for reading and commenting on it - I thought it was relevant at the time, given the passionate declarations of citizen vigilantes bearing arms against the looting hordes.
posted by strawberryviagra at 7:48 PM on August 31, 2005


That some have-nots now having upsets some haves makes it all the sweeter for me.

Well, they're 'haves' now in a painfully temporary sense...
posted by maryh at 9:33 PM on August 31, 2005


"Dad said that they went up and looking at the shops [for food and water]. They managed to steal a bottle of water. They haven't had any since then."

When her father tried to find more supplies, a man pulled a gun on him, she said
.
posted by strawberryviagra at 10:19 PM on August 31, 2005


Live people loot, dead people get shot.
posted by bwg at 12:15 AM on September 1, 2005


Property is theft.

Hear, hear Meehawl.
posted by zach4000 at 9:50 AM on September 1, 2005


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