New Orleans, also referred to as the ‘Big Easy”, was a city known for their gentle, slow and easy-going way of life. When Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, life for its citizens became devastating and fearful. Rumors had circulated that Mayor Ray Nagin had declared martial law. Governor Kathleen Blanco stated “Looting and other lawlessness will not be tolerated.”. City officials helped create a climate in which officers felt justified to take extreme measures to ‘take the city back’, in which they exposed their true culture of discrimination and lawlessness.
Unfortunately, their actions claimed the lives of many Katrina survivors who were in search of food, medicine, and other necessities they needed.
September 2, 2005 marked the last day Henry Glover was last seen alive. Patricia Glover, sister of Henry Glover, claimed that “…my brother and another friend said that they was going out to get some help, and you know, get some water and some food and stuff and- and he never made it back.
”. Glover was shot in the chest, while picking up stolen goods at an algiers strip mall. Glover’s brother, Edward King hailed down a passing car to drive them to a hospital, but the driver, Will Tanner, feared Glover would not make it and decided to take them to Habans Elementary School to receive medical attention for Glover, who still had a pulse. The NOPD SWAT team had turned this school into an armed encampment, where “…members of this unit would gather for their daily orders, often assigned to go on looter patrol.
”. Quickly, both King and Tanner were put in handcuffs. Infuriated, King states ‘You all not helping my brother. Whoever killed him, I’m going to kill them,’, and afterwards the two were severely beaten. One of the police officers drove off in Will’s car, in which Glover’s body was still in the backseat. After a couple days, Istvan Balogh, a private security consultant, discovered a completely burned vehicle, in which he found a dead body that was disintegrated, and a skull that had a bullet wound. It was later uncovered that NOPD officer David Warren had shot Glover.
On September 4, 2005, two lives were taken on the Danziger Bridge. After hearing that police were under fire near the bridge and calls for assistance, a team of officers drove to the scene and opened fire. Both 17-year-old Jame Brissete and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, a mentally disabled man who was shot in the back and repeatedly kicked as he was dying, were killed that day. Former NOPD Officer Kevin Diel said “he radio just came alive with people screaming, gunshots in the background.” A total of six people were shot by the police that day. A federal investigation of the incident found that none of the civilians were shot that day were armed.
The days following Hurricane Katrina, were full of violence, discrimination, secrets, and death. The NOYD denied reports of police shootings of the day Glover died. Not until years later did the unfinished police report pop up stating that there had been a shooting in which Officer David Warren was involved. Warren claimed that he opened fire because he feared for his life after hearing a truck being driven erratically and feeling threatened by the men, outside the police substation, located on the second floor of the strip mall. It also stated that Glover was already dead in the backseat and that both Tanner and King were not cooperating with the officers, and although the report mentions them being handcuffed, it never mentions the beating the received. It was later discovered that the same person who wrote the report on Glover’s case had also signed off on the incident on Danziger Bridge. After the federal investigation following the Danziger Bridge case, “federal prosecutors now say there’s no evidence the police were under threat. In fact, the police were firing on unarmed civilians, Katrina survivors searching for food and medicine.”. Laura Maggi, The Times-Picayune reported, stated “A lieutenant told the officers involved in the shooting to get their stories straight. There were secret meetings held. One man is accused of getting a gun from his house and filing it into the court record as being a gun that was used by civilians on the bridge that day.”.
Although some police officers of the New Orleans Police Department acted appropriately and professionally regardless of all the chaos happening around them, there are many who took the disaster as an opportunity to unleash their true feelings towards the African American community. Following the investigation, five police officers were charged with eleven federal civil right violations regarding the Danziger Bridge. Prosecutors charged David Warren of murder of Henry Glover. They also charged Dwayne Scheuermann for the beatings of King and Tanner, as well as setting fire to Will Tanner’s car with Henry Glover’s body in the back seat. Many others knew about Glover being shot but kept it hidden, and were thus charged for lying to the FBI. These officers although were given sentences to serve time in prison, it will never amount to having their life taken away for unjustified cause.