During Natural Disasters: Is ‘Looting’ a Crime? Is Survival a Crime? Who Are the Real Looters?

During Natural Disasters: Is ‘Looting’ a Crime? Is Survival a Crime? Who Are the Real Looters?

On the run: Looters” grab what they can and flee during a police assault near the Hypolite Market in Port-au-PrinceLooter1

In the past few years, every catastrophe, whether it is the man-made disaster after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, or the man-made disaster after the Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, capitalism’s first responses have been to send in military and extra military forces to preserve law and order.

However, the victims of these disasters primarily need, medical care, food and water — one cannot survive eating bullets and hand grenades.

When the governments, primarily the USA, fail to protect people, but first respond to protect property and the property of the food stores, it demonstrates that Capitalism is now an inhumane system.

Their first move is to protect the rotting property of the stores, rather than prevention of the starvation of the people. When the starving victims grab the food before it spoils, the capitalist governments consider these people to be “looters”!

The question is: Should the starving victims of the disasters watch the food rot and the drinking water go rancid, and wait for medical care, food and water, until the area is secure for property? These disasters are a clear case of property rights coming before the people’s unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Looting” In New OrleansLooter2

During the catastrophe of Katrina, “most of the faces of suffering we were seeing from New Orleans … wake were black faces” (Victor Singletary). Racism lifted its ugly head when people were in most need. It was reported by CBS that New Orleans city councilman Oliver Thomas said that people were afraid of black people to go in and save them. This kind of attitude was shared by the President and many other people. As people were running out of food many went into closed stores and homes for any signs of food and water. The national media portrayed African Americans as “looters” but whites were portrayed as “finders of food and necessary supplies” (Singletary). — Hurricane Katrina

The Great Racial Divide: Blacks looting” Food – Whites ‘finding’ FoodLooter3

The mass media whipped up the “looter” hysteria and many citizens of the white New Orleans community of Algiers Point, formed vigilante groups to defend themselves from “looters” and not allow Black Refuges, from flood ravaged ninth ward, to enter Algiers Point in order to find food and shelter. (Algiers Point is on the west side of the Mississippi, to go from New Orleans proper to Algiers Point people have to cross the Danziger Bridge from the east side of the Mississippi.)

Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water and medical supplies for the flood victims. Instead, a group of white residents, convinced that crime would arrive with the human exodus formed a vigilante group and sought to seal off the area, blocking the roads in and out of the neighborhood by dragging lumber and downed trees into the streets. The Algiers Point cops also acted as a vigilante group.

Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report, pointed this out in his article Death at the Bridge in New Orleans:

. . . One particularly vicious gang of at least seven cops converged on the Danziger Bridge over the Industrial Canal, apparently in search of Black people to kill during the post-storm confusion. The officers encountered an unarmed family of five [1] and a friend walking across the bridge on their way to a supermarket and opened fire on them, seriously wounding four and killing one. Then the cops went to the other side of the bridge and came upon two brothers on their way to a family member’s dental office. The cops killed one of the brothers, who was mentally disabled. When they were finally finished shooting, the cops put their criminal minds together to concoct a cover story and plant a weapon on the scene. . . .

They waved their guns and randomly murdered black people. They were photos and videos of their actions, but very little has been done. However on police officer has just recently confessed to his crime.
The vigilantes openly bragged about their exploits:

It was great,” Algiers Point resident Wayne Janak  says in a video that accompanies the report. ‘It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.’Nathan Roper (pictured below) told Thompson, ‘The police said, If they’re breaking in your property do what you gotta do and leave them [the bodies] on the side of the road.’ A woman who asked to remain anonymous reported that her uncle in New Orleans ‘was very excited that it was a free-for-all — white against black — that he could participate in.’ She also told of a cousin who e-mailed her a photo in which he posed next to a black man who had been fatally shot — a modern-day version of the chilling photographs once popular as souvenirs of lynchings. — Southern States Studies

After the “looters” began the U.S, Government, used the pretext of “looters” to send in its private extralegal mercenary to police the “looters”. (The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid out $73 million to the Blackwater Private Vigilantes for their services. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14707922; while none of the people who pay rent their shelter did not even received a dime! http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/katrina-pain-index-2009/)

Blackwater Vigilantes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Looters4Looters” in Haiti

The “looting” of Haiti, after the earthquake, began with the reoccupation of Haiti by the United States military, along with the UN troops to protect U.S. property and oil and mineral rights, from the native population of Haiti and to protect those who were in staying in resort hotels run my the cruise lines.

Guns and poor Haitians


Fidel Castro: We Send Doctors, Not Soldiers”

While Cuba, China, and other countries immediately supplied humanitarian aid, the U.S. acted as an occupying army, instead of providing much need food and medical supplies. Cuba was the first to supply medical supplies to Haiti, as Fidel Castro said, concerning Haiti: “We Send Doctors, Not Soldiers!” In Haiti, as in New Orleans, the same scenario took place, but with the mass media, now being in lock step with Obama.

In her essay, Covering Haiti: When the Media Is the Disaster, Rebecca Solnit clearly points out this fact:

January 21, 2010 Soon after almost every disaster the crimes begin: ruthless, selfish, indifferent to human suffering, and generating far more suffering. The perpetrators go unpunished and live to commit further crimes against humanity. They care less for human life than for property. They act without regard for consequences.

“ . . . . Within days of the Haitian earthquake, for example, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of photographs with captions that kept deploying the word ‘looting.’ One was of a man lying face down on the ground with this caption: ‘A Haitian police officer ties up a suspected looter who was carrying a bag of evaporated milk.’ The man’s sweaty face looks up at the camera, beseeching, anguished.

ARRESTED: A Haitian police officer ties up a suspected looter who was carrying a bag of evaporated milk. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Looters6

“Another photo was labeled: ‘Looting continued in Haiti on the third day after the earthquake, although there were more police in downtown Port-au-Prince.’ It showed a somber crowd wandering amid shattered piles of concrete in a landscape where, visibly, there could be little worth taking anyway.

“A third image was captioned: ‘A looter makes off with rolls of fabric from an earthquake-wrecked store.’ Yet another: ‘The body of a police officer lies in a Port-au-Prince Street. He was accidentally shot by fellow police who mistook him for a looter.’”

StarvationLooter7Looters8Looting in Chile”

In Chile, after the recent disastrous earthquakes, a state of emergency, was called by the government, and again we hear the word “looters”! The TV news showed starving people “looting” food and Chile’s security forces arresting the people who just wanted to survive.

What would you do if you were starving and thirsty?

What would you do if you were starving and thirsty, and the was no aid — just guns and bayonets? Would you just go by a deserted super market and not eat the food and/or drink the water and soft drinks before they rot and spoil? Would you just decide to die rather than go inside to survive.

The obvious answer is that that you would opt to grab the goods and survive.

    But, wouldn’t that be stealing of private property? Yes, but which is more important, living or dying?

Aren’t we supposed to believe “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence?

Do property rights supersede our unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? From examining these disasters, obviously, under Capitalism, they do.

.       (AP Photo/ Natacha Pisarenko)

Chili- Monday, March 1, 2010. Security forces said they arrested dozens of people for violating an

anti-looting curfew Monday after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Chile early Saturday

People wait to catch goods thrown from a supermarket window  during sporadic looting in Concepcion,

Who Are the Real Looters

    Looting is anything taken by dishonesty, force, stealth,  plunder etc..

    Capitalist looting first started with the colonization and plundering of the world by white settlers from Western Europe. The wealth from the looting of and the oppression, of most of the world’s masses, financed the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of Industrial Capitalism. This was first explained by Karl Marx in CHAPTER 31: GENESIS OF THE INDUSTRIAL CAPITALIST Part VIII: Primitive Accumulation Capital Volume One, he stated:

    “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.  … If money … comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.”

Spanish campaign of genocide against the population of Hispaniola (Present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic) as illustrated by Fray Bartolome de las Casas.Looters10

Capitalism has never stopped in its attempts to loot the world!

Capitalist “free market” policies have come to dominate the world —  Capitalists currently view disasters as a new opportunity to plunder the world through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

Looting by the U.S. Government in New Orleans

The U.S. government’s actions in New Orleans were part of the national program to gentrify or “ethnic cleanse” the cities to disperse the Black and poor inner cites throughout.

Ethnic Cleansing was a plan that was already in place, just waiting for a hurricane for its implementation. Or, as Congressman Richard Baker, R-La., was overheard telling lobbyists, right after Katrina, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” From his point of view, Katrina made it possible for the politicians to gentrify New Orleans and carry out the Ethnic Cleansing of the city.

New Orleans, since Katrina, has gone from a majority Black City to a majority white city, and is becoming the play-land of the South, with its many tourist attractions and casinos.

The U.S. Government’s Looting of Haiti

There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF ‘austerity’ plans.    — Greg Palast

In Haiti the media writes about how poor the people of Haiti are, but the U.S. has occupied Haiti off and on for about 100 years. The people may be poor, but the United States controls Haiti’s vast resources of Gold, Oil, and Iridium!

In November of 2009, “Espaillat Nanita, the former president of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (REFIDOMSA), revealed that according to geological studies and research conducted on Haitian soil, indicating that the nation shares with the Dominican Republic gold deposit, untapped world’s largest and a little known and rare mineral that is vital for building of spacecraft and other appliances extraterrestrial iridium.” http://www.espacinsular.org/spip.php?article8942. (It is estimated that Haiti has more oil than Venezuela!

The following are excerpts from Jerry Mazza’s February 9, 2010, essay, Oil, gas, gold, copper, etc., in Haiti equals US occupation: This discovery comes from an incredibly deep well of information in the writings of Ezili Danto (Marguerite Laurent), in her article, Part 2, Oil in Haiti as the economic reasons for the US/UN occupation, written in January. Danto’s opening line links to Part 1 of the story from her website, and contains a cache of press clippings by her and other Haitian authors, dated October 2009. Both parts are worth their weight in the gold of truth, revealing recent events as part of an ongoing privatization of Haiti’s abundant assets, with Papa Clinton plus 20,000 US troops there to put a benign face on guarding those assets as a “humanitarian effort. . . . But the US still needed to keep dictatorial governments in power in Haiti as its ace in the hole, and try to overthrow any duly elected democratic governments from 1991 on, for fear some popular president might want to nationalize oil and gas reserves for the benefit of the bitingly poor Haitian people as Hugo Chavez did in Venezuela. Ms. Danto points us to an article by Ginette and Daniel Mathurin that says there’s more oil in Haiti than in Venezuela. . . . That said, read every word of this article. Then move to the articles in part one, including one on Clinton’s reasons for being there, “Deep Water ports built to take tanker off-loads from other oil or Haitian oil sources.” Part 2 also provides you with a detailed history of US privatizing while Haiti battles for its life, struggling with human trafficking, abduction of children for slave labor and pedophilia. Frankly, I can’t write it any better than Ms. Danto and her fellow Haitian writers, whose hearts are as deep as the ocean, intellect clear as the Haitian sky, souls angry as the island hurricanes.”

Looting by the U.S. Government in Chile

It is a well known fact that the United States corporations have been exploiting Chile’s copper, and other mineral resources for over one hundred years. The difference between Chile and Haiti is that the Chilean government has had a strong military presence that is skilled at maintaining law and order in times of crisis and natural disaster.

From New Orleans, to Haiti, and to Chile, the most important aspect of U.S. capitalism’s policy has been to protect property with utter disregard for human life and happiness. The working class and the poor people are living on an island of poverty  and despair surrounded by a sea of wealth.