Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Wide Spectrum of Voices Speaks up Against Racial Discrimination in St. Bernard Parish

Pressure is heating up on St. Bernard Parish.

An editorial in Saturday's Times Picayune says it all: "St. Bernard Parish's housing restrictions are legally and morally wrong."

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan once again found St. Bernard's government in contempt of court. Further, as the Picayune noted, "She gave the parish until 5 p.m. Monday to produce the respective paperwork. If parish officials delay without cause, St. Bernard faces fines of $5,000 the first day and $10,000 every day thereafter." A Sunday column by Jarvis Deberry asks, "At what point will residents decide that it's just too damned expensive to be racist?"

This week, two open letters were released that further heightens the pressure on the parish. Both were signed by a broad spectrum of organizations, from national human rights groups like National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, US Human Rights Network, and Advancement Project; to regional organizations like Moving Forward Gulf Coast and Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children; to an ever-increasing range of local groups, such as the Zion Travelers Cooperative Center and Survivors Village; as well as individuals like historian Douglas Brinkley and blogger Karen Gadbois.

The first letter, directed towards St. Bernard Parish, is called an Advocates Letter to St. Bernard Parish, in response to Housing Discrimination. The second is called the Pledge in Support of a Just Rebuilding of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana and the U.S. Gulf Coast: A Sign-On Letter for Local and National Relief Organizations and Volunteer Groups. Both letters can be seen on the Louisiana Justice Institute blog.

Another article about the campaign for justice in St. Bernard can be found at this link, and a legal background from Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center can be found here.

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