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Dec 22, 2007

N.O. Demolition



(click for larger sizes)

On Thursday, over intense public opposition, the NO city council approved HUD's plan to demolish 4500 units of public housing and replace them with "mixed income development."

Photographer Mario Tama -- who has been documenting one of the existing projects on and off for the past 6 months -- forwarded these images to The BAG. The first two photos were taken this summer.  The third, showing an early stage of demolition, was taken last Saturday.

Behind the fury is the belief that, as flawed as the original projects were, it would have been relatively straightforward and inexpensive to repair flood damage, as opposed to tearing the buildings down.  With rents up 45% and homelessness having doubled since Katrina, activists see the money and power trending toward corporate developers and up-market housing, resulting in poor blacks being pushed out of the city.  And, it's hard to dispel that thinking as the city has offered few options to the soon-to-be-displaced residents.

Regarding the photos, I don't think the intention here is to romanticize life in the projects.  The difference between the two earlier shots, and the recent one, however, using youth as "a constant," is to reflect the fabric of life then and now, when what's happening now leaves seems to leave even less to look forward to.

In pictures: New Orleans clashes (BBC Slideshow)
New Orleans' Public Housing Fight Rages (AP News)
The Shock Doctrine in Action in New Orleans (Naomi Klein)

(images: ©Mario Tama/Getty.  2007.  BW Cooper Housing Project.  New Orleans, La.  Used by permission)


the Right of Return : “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 13 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including ‘his own,’ and to return to his country."

There is disagreement as to what this actually means in practice as well as whether ‘country’ refers to a ‘state’ or ‘a specific area of land’... Much of the controversy surrounding such a right, however, derives from disagreement surrounding what in UDHR article 13 is referred to as "his own".


the Law of Return : “The Law of Return [1950] declares that Israel constitutes a home not only for the inhabitants of the State, but also for all members of ‘the [Jewish = an ethnicity, implicit] people’ everywhere... The purpose of the Law of Return, like that of the Zionist Movement, was to provide a solution to the Jewish people's ‘problem’ [apparent] ~ to re-establish a home[land] for the entire Jewish people in [Biblical conceit] Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.

Critics claim that the Law of Return is part of a larger system of discrimination whereby Israeli Jews are given superior civil and social rights over Israeli Arabs. They further claim that the Law of Return runs counter to the claims of a democratic state, and that Israeli support for the Law of Return: "excuses and maintains the act of ethnic cleansing that dispossessed the [Palestinian] refugees more than half a century ago."

I have taken the liberty under The BAG's Category of Protest Focus and the topic Demolition, to recall that on March 14, 2003 a young American Woman said


~ and that two days later she died under an Israeli bulldozer trying to prevent it from demolishing the house of the Palestinian Dr. Samir Masri

The darkness is infinite
As I leave the curtain's edge
It is filled with watchers
Silent judges
- Rachel Corrie, about 11 years old

As their plane touches down in Tel Aviv this week, Cindy and Craig Corrie will mark five years since their daughter's death. On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed to death beneath an armored Israeli bulldozer. The Corries are a short distance from Gaza, where Rachel was killed, and where in the past few weeks, an Israeli military incursion killed over 100 Palestinians, including many women and children.

This week, the Corries come to Israel to attend the first Arabic-language performance of the acclaimed one-woman play, My Name is Rachel Corrie ...

nicely done, JT.

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