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Katrina Survivors: “We Want our money”

September 29, 2007

Journalist Davey D interviews Talib Kweli during the Hurricane Katrina Fundraiser Saturday at Moses Music.  Photo by D-Ray Archer.

Katrina Survivors: “We Want our money”
Artists and organizers raise funds for victims

By Kwan Booth
Staff Writer

By all estimates the Bay Area houses as many as 2000 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. They are living in hotels, donated houses, apartments and with relatives from San Francisco to Pleasanton. And many are ready to go home. “I like Pleasanton, it’s pleasant” one woman recently noted, “but it doesn’t have any culture.”

Aid from the local and national government has been promised to varying degrees, but bureaucracy and mismanagement have resulted in little being dispersed. Seeing this, individuals donors, artists and grassroots groups have been stepping in and offering support directly to those in need. Last Saturday, artists including Talib Kweli and Dwayne Wiggins, joined the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, Survivors for Survivors and several local and international activist groups in Oakland to raise funds and update the community on progress in the south.

The event was a labeled as chance for local groups, individuals and press to meet and connect various “campaigns around displacement to the Gulf Coast disaster.” About 100 people gathered in the back lot of East Oakland’s Moses Music, bundled against the cold, listening to speakers, passing out fliers and shooting photos and video as presenters detailed the obstacles faced by the more than 200,000 Louisiana families spread out across the country.

Several speakers, including journalist and Katrina survivor CC Campbell-Rock and Mama Ayanna from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), compared events in New Orleans with the redevelopment occurring in places like San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point and downtown and west Oakland.

Referring to what many see as efforts to turn the city into a “playground for the rich”, Javad Jahi of MXGM noted “what’s happening in New Orleans is like gentrification on steroids.”

Talib Kweli, one half of hip hop group Black Star and a noted activist, said that developers have been looking at New Orleans for a long time and “Katrina was a way for them to get it immediately, it was hyper advanced.”

In the last month, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has come under heavy fire for the way in which funds are being distributed. Much of the heat has been around the Louisiana Recovery Authority, an extrajudicial government body created by Blanco and charged with dispersing $7.5 billion to assist in rebuilding and redevelopment. On Saturday, November 18, outraged residents rallied at the State Capitol calling for Blanco to overhaul the program and chanting “We want our Money!”

“We’re not asking for Charity, we’re asking for solidarity” Ayanna told the crowd Saturday evening, passing a container for donations. The money raised at the event will be used to support the local “Home for the Holidays” campaign, which will enable local survivors to return home and volunteers to go down and assist with the rebuilding efforts.

The event featured speeches, poetry and music from Wiggins, Destraments and Prince Ali and supporters in the crowd included journalist Davey D and MC’s Mistah FAB and Ise Lyfe. Also in the attendance were representatives from the UC Berkeley Black Student Union, Bay Area Katrina Solidarity Committee, Just Cause Oakland, Youth Together and several other groups. At one point Ayanna told every member of the audience not in an organization or doing something in their communities to join together and “actively conspire to change” what’s going on.

The event’s organizers unveiled a list of demands that called for Blanco to disband the Louisiana Recovery Authority and guarantee that no public housing units be destroyed. The participating groups are also calling for an international tribunal to investigate the governments of the US, Louisiana, and the gulf coast municipalities. Delegates from South Africa, France, Venezuela and Brazil have already visited the region and taken testimony from survivors.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. emily permalink
    October 1, 2007 4:50 pm

    Is there a video of this event that I could buy?

  2. othersidemedia permalink
    October 1, 2007 7:00 pm

    I’m not sure about the video but I’ll see what i can find. I’ll email you when I find out. Thanks.

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