Organizers and activists in Louisiana and Mississippi are regionally coordinating their relief response in the wake of Hurricane Ida, and linking the immediate survival needs of people with a coherent set of political demands expressed in a petition to lawmakers including President Biden, calling for a humanitarian approach to evacuation and evacuees. Both initiatives draw on lessons learned from past disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Kali Akuno, co-founder of Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi, and Stephen Bradberry, executive director at the Alliance Institute in New Orleans, have joined forces to mobilize a political force to anticipate and counter any moves from the Shock Doctrine playbook: the process by which alert capitalists move in on vulnerable communities while they’re still reeling from whatever disaster has hit them, as described by Naomi Klein in her 2007 book.
Akuno and Bradberry remember the mass firings of 4,300 public school teachers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which led to an accelerated makeover of New Orleans’s public education system to a for-profit charter school system. They also remember the post-Katrina passage of a voting law that said people couldn’t vote in Louisiana elections without coming back to the state — measures that were enacted without community input, when few were around to fight back.
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