We Have Not Forgotten: Solidarity Statement on Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance 

Solidarity Statement on Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
August 29, 2011

Today the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) honors the people who passed away during the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. We also honor and stand in solidarity with the over 1 million people, mostly African Americans, who were displaced by the storm and by the negligence of government agencies. We appreciate the many organizations and activists of the Gulf Coast who continue to work to rebuild homes and communities, restore the cultural vibrancy and diversity of the Gulf Coast and attain justice for the displaced and current residents of the region. We support the right of return for the many thousands of people who continue to live in other communities in hopes of returning to their home. 

GGJ is an alliance of US-based grassroots organizing groups who seek to play a role in transforming global policies. GGJ connects groups across sector, issue, region and constituency to develop a broad-based US movement that can participate in the international grassroots movement for peace, democracy and global well-being.

The experience of Hurricane Katrina was not just a natural disaster, but a disaster wrought by a legacy of racism, government abandonment, and opportunism by developers and wealthy elites.

Nearly 2,000 people were killed during or in the aftermath of the hurricane. Hundreds of thousands of people from the Gulf Coast region remain displaced from their communities while developers have descended upon New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities to execute a vision of the region that caters to wealthy elites. As Katrina survivor Viola Francois-Washington noted about New Orleans: “We still have two cities. One is getting help, the other is not”.

On August, 2007 the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Committee convened an International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The tribunal found: “that the federal, state and local governments are guilty of violating the human rights to life, dignity and recognition of personhood; the right to be free from racial discrimination-- especially as it pertains to the actions of law enforcement personnel and vigilantes; the right to return, resettlement and reintegration of internally displaced persons; the right to be free from degrading treatment and punishment; the right to freedom of movement; the right to adequate housing and education; the right to vote and participate in governance and the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and security of person and the right to equal protection under the law. Both actions and failure to act by the governments had disproportionate devastating impact with respect to race and gender.”

Four years after the findings of the Tribunal and six years after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, justice is yet to be realized for the people of the region. The coast was struck by yet another disaster, the BP oil spill and again people were subjected to government failure to respond decisively and to hold the polluter accountable. The taxpayers, the people continue to bear the burden.

The survivors of Katrina are among a number of peoples that are the victims of severe weather and natural disasters in recent years, including the deadly floods in the Philippines (2009), Pakistan (2010) and Brazil (2011), the severe drought in northern China (2011), and the devastating earthquakes in Haiti (2010) and Japan (2011). This year the U.S. experienced the deadliest tornado year in nearly a century with communities being affected from Massachusetts to Alabama. It is clear that the heating of the planet is disrupting its ecological balance. This will continue to have devastating social impacts on all our communities. In a moment when we need to turn to clean and sustainable energy sources, governments and corporations continue to drill in deeper and deeper waters for thicker crude oil, ravage the land for tar sands and coal, and develop unsafe forms of energy like nuclear power. It is clear that peoples' movements for the rights of people and the planet are all that will stand in the way of the irresponsibility of our political and economic leaders.

On this day we call on GGJ members, allies and friends to do at least one of the following:

  • Conduct an activity in commemoration of Katrina
  • To reach out to colleagues, friends and loved ones in the Gulf Coast or those of the Katrina diaspora
  • To organize an act of solidarity, and
  • To continue to prioritize the Gulf Coast as part of our national movement building agenda.