Friday, December 14, 2007

Three Dispatches from Cheri Honkala in New Orleans

To learn more about Cheri and the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, please click on the KWRU link to the right. --Danny

Housing is a Human Right!!
PPEHRC National Coordinator Cheri Honkala Reports from New Orleans on International Human Rights Day

Trying to Stop a Preventable Katrina: As the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) begins, PPEHRC joins in massive protests to stop the federal government's plans to demolish close to 5000 public housing units in New Orleans this week.

Dec. 10th: Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
By Cheri Honkala, PPEHRC National Coordinator I spent most of the day meeting with local residents working in the service indusrty and thanspent the evening in a mobilization meeting called the Coaliton to Stop the Demolition, where people have come from around the country to help turn up the street heat for a week here in New Orleans. I havn't seen any national media. I have seen a great deal of New Orleans Police officers and an advertisement on local television by the FBI about helping them cut down on crime. Tomorrow, I will go by the Tent City in front of city Hall which was scheduled for demolition on Dec. 11th. But because we're in town, they're only gonna put up a fence, and than its scheduled for demolition Dec.21, when everyone is busy for the Holidays! I will also spend the day with the public housing residents who have been putting up one hell of a fight here.

Yes, it's the same old SHIT everywhere I go. There's no money for the real people doing the DAILY ORGANIZING work, especially if they come from the ranks of the poor. But yes, money will continue to be dished out for people to study this situation, which ulrimately is caused by our Government and not by Katrina. Its not just the homeless or the public housing residents who have been told that they don't matter. 1700 people who were put into FEMA trailers after Katrina are now, as I write this, being thrown out of their trailers. This fight isn't just about New Orleans. This is about ALL of us and the kind of country we want to live in and raise our children in.

I'm away from my son Guillermo once AGAIN for a week and I miss him like crazy, but this isn't the kind of country I want either of my children to raise their children in.

Unless we lift up the fight that's taking place here, these bastards will continue to get away with murder.
PPEHRC Report from New Orleans, by National Coordinator Cheri Honkala
Part 2

December 13, 2007:

Yesterday was a difficult day. We were all caught off guard when they began bulldozing CW Cooper Public Housing. I and about seven other people were the first to arrive.

The media began to focus on tenants fighting with one another because of all of the stress. Meanwhile I spotted another bulldozer about to enter the gates for demolition, so I walked down to meet the bulldozer and to redirect the focus. I was soon joined by several other residents and people from around the country. We stood in front of the bulldozer as it drove directly toward us. At one point I had to bang on the window of the bulldozer with the stick of my sign so he wouldn't snap electrical wires.

We stood all day in the rain, pouring rain at times, and declared VICTORY in the evening because for ONE day we were able to stop the demolition of public housing in New Orleans.
Today the struggle continues, with efforts across the city to stop the demolition. We need people to call HUD and demand that they stop the demolition now.

PPEHRC members drove through the night in the midwest storm and will arrive here to join me this morning. Other PPEHRC members will hold demonstrations in front of their local HUD offices.

This week we're showing the residents of New Orleans that their lives do matter to us and that this isn't the kind of country we want to live in either.

Evening of December 13, 2007
PPEHRC Report from New Orleans, by National Coordinator Cheri Honkala

Part 3

The bulldozers hit CW Cooper today while most of us hit City Halland than Marched to the HUD office. As we tried to enter the publicHousing and Urban Development (HUD) office we're physically stopped by severalFederal Marshals when all we wanted was a meeting with HUD regarding the demolition. About seven federal Marshals were literally on my back while JR andCY from PPEHRC and the Coalition to Protect Public Housing tried tododge arms being pushed on them by the federal marshalls. This was one of the most heated HUD demonstrations I've been to. No one EVER came down to meet with us. One of the lawyers then announceda lawsuit agains't HUD, because before you can demolish public housing, you haveto have a vote by City Council in order to do it.

This didn't matter though. Alphonso Jackson appeared on television tonight from Washington DC stating "we're going to go ahead with the demolitions in New Orleans because this is a war on poverty". Well, he got one thing right - this is a war. While HUD was appearing on television, the SWAT team was called out tothe CW Cooper Homes. Two people remain in the one of the buildings tonight.Soon they'll be arrested. Also, today the city began to put up an 8 feet tall fence around the huge homelessencampment outside of City Hall and the State Office Building. They poured cementand permanently posted the huge posts into the sidewalk.

Something I had never seen - it reminded me of the new wall on the border.

Maybe, nobody will be able to see the continuing crimes against humanity taking place right before the Holidays. Why else would they cage these human beings in like animals?

Gotta go now. I'm crying.....Time to get angry & organized for tomorrow's fight! Write and call the Secretary of HUD today! Most importantly build and multipy this movement.

Below is contact information at HUD for making your call:

Secretary Alphonso Jackson
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410Telephone: (202) 708-1112 TTY: (202) 708-1455
(press #6 for employee directory)

HUD Inspector General Hotline for complaints:
1-800-347-3735TDD: (202) 708-2451
New Orleans Field Office:
Marvel Robertson
Field Office Director
Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras Street, 9th fl
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 589-7266
TTY: (504) 589-7277