Ronald V. Chisom / The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond – 2005-09-09 00:49:12
Call for a UN Investigation into the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina
(September 6, 2005) — The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, one of the nation’s foremost anti-racist training organizations, today called for a full investigation by the United Nations of the federal response to the Katrina catastrophe in Mississippi and Louisiana, and especially in the city of New Orleans.
“This calamity demonstrates how racism manifests itself in every institution in this country,” said Ronald Chisom, executive director of the People’s Institute, a 25-year old, multiracial organization headquartered in New Orleans.
“With the national and international coverage of hurricane Katrina, the world has seen the real face of racism in America. Only an international body will be able to hold accountable the political leaders who had the knowledge but did not act, who had the power, but did not use that power to preserve the lives and human dignity of all people.”
Rooted in the culture of New Orleans, The People’s Institute is intimately familiar with the history of racism in New Orleans and the south. Although it is a national organization with a national and international network of anti-racist organizers and trainers, The People’s Institute feels acutely the impact of Katrina, having lost its offices and the homes of many of its staff.
“We need the United Nations to oversee an international Public Works campaign similar to the post-tsunami rebuilding efforts in South Asia and the Pacific,” said Kimberley Richards, Core Trainer with The People’s Institute and a citizen of Mississippi.
“We must prevent this tragedy from becoming a ‘cash cow’ to benefit those who have historically profited from war and crisis. We must build with a vision of social justice and economic equity, so that poor people do not simply end up with “services” but lack economic power. Only an international body can guarantee that.”
Founded in 1980, The People’s Institute has provided “Undoing Racism™” workshops and consultations to over 120,000 people of every race, religion, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds throughout the United States as well as internationally in South America, Puerto Rico, Cuba, South Africa, and Japan.
The organization is committed to assisting community organizers, leaders and organizations deepen their understanding of the systemic, economic and social impact of racism on their lives, their family, and their communities.
“Let´s not turn off our TV sets and shrug off the deadly results we have witnessed as someone else´s responsibility,” urged Ronald Chisom. “Instead of papering over our inequities and pushing poor Black people back into the neighborhoods where other Americans don’t have to see them again, we can rebuild a truly equitable New Orleans – a truly humane America.”
The People’s Institute believes that to accomplish these goals, the people of the United States must examine the roots of our racism, analyze our multigenerational national bias against people of color and its corollary bias in favor of people because they are white. We must critique the effects of decades of neglect suffered by poor people across the country, then transform our institutions, our policies, and our culture.
First, we must let the people flooded out by Katrina come back and be paid a living wage to rebuild their own communities!
Ronald V. Chisom is the Executive Director of The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. www.pisab.org
He can be reached at 504-782-6525; Dr. Kimberley Richards can be reached at 504-722-3213. For more information about The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, visit our website at www.pisab.org
Hurricane Katrina, Another Impeachable Crime
Ramsey Clark / VoteToImpeach.org
The stunning human tragedy of Katrina makes the impeachment of President Bush more urgent. His priority is not poor people, but militarism to exploit the poor at home and abroad.
President Bush sent National Guard units to Iraq from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in a criminal war of aggression and military occupation. They were thus unavailable to provide emergency services in their own states, or protect their own families.
He refused to return them from Iraq to save and serve their own people, instead only authorizing the return of some Air National Guard personnel to protect and repair equipment at an Air Force Base. These forces and the resources that they command should be used to meet people’s needs, not for violence.
His tax cuts for the rich, huge increases in military spending and deliberate slashes in social programs, including those funds specifically requested for flood control and to strengthen dikes in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and his complete failure to even consider emergency transportation for the known poor in the path of a level-5 hurricane, followed by days of failure to send federal emergency relief personnel to seek and save the many thousands whose lives were known to be threatened, who were pleading for help on television and who faced death, was criminal negligence at best, and a failure to faithfully perform his duties as President.
George W. Bush will never recognize the rights or human dignity of the immense and growing population of Americans — overwhelmingly African American and other minorities and elderly — living in Third World conditions here at home. They were the principal victims of Katrina, as they are of his failure to assure equal protection of the laws to all. Their plight and peril will worsen while President Bush remains President.
The only act that can stop President Bush from continuing his criminal war of aggression against Iraq and his arrogant criminal acts and threats against Cuba, Haiti, Iran, Korea, Syria, Venezuela and any country in his path is impeachment. Impeachment is an act already two years past due.
The cost of delay is staggering: two thousand US military deaths, ten thousand and more wounded, many thousands more disabled, more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths, several hundred thousand injured, nearly $200,000,000 in federal funds, and even greater damage to Iraq in shattered lives and smashed cities and infrastructure. The cost of delay, already staggering, is greater every day.
While proclaiming freedom his credo, George W. Bush has done more to destroy freedom and the human dignity which it nourishes than all other Presidents in our history. Who would have dreamed of Abu Ghraib, scores of prisoners murdered, assassinations and summary executions, Guantanamo, thousands imprisoned in the US without Constitutional protections, or sent to be tortured in client states with impunity, all for a President and those acting for him?
What prior President has proclaimed himself above the law, coerced more than 100 countries into bilateral treaties promising never to surrender a US citizen to the International Criminal Court?
The world watches and wonders why, if the American people are free, they fail to resist the criminal violence of their President.
The only act that can redeem the United States in the hearts and minds of those still capable of forgiving and believing our government can change its violent ways is the impeachment of George W. Bush and the responsible officials of his administration before it is too late.
The time to begin a final drive for impeachment is now. Together, we are not helpless. Power is in the people united for peace. Perseverance through the midterm Congressional elections in November 2006 can force incumbent members of the House of Representatives to impeach President Bush or face defeat. Failing that, it can restore integrity and honor to the President’s oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The Constitution, written with the abuses of King George III painfully in mind, is unequivocal in the action required for criminal conduct of civil officers of the United States:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Article II, Section 4.
The Nuremberg Judgment proclaimed war of aggression “the Supreme international crime.” World War II was comprised of wars of aggression. President Bush boasted assassination and summary executions in his 2003 State of the Union message.
We need your help. Vote to Impeach. Persuade others to vote to impeach now.
The impeachment campaign will be achieving its largest ever street visibility by organizing a huge contingent on September 24th, at what will be the largest peace demonstration in Washington DC since the war of aggression against Iraq began in March 2003. The demonstration will call loud and clear for impeachment, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and full reparations to the victims of US violence.
We are organizing buses from many cities on September 24th. Ticket prices are being kept low so that everyone who wants to come can attend. Printing banners, signs, posters add to the expenses. We are also preparing to publish another round of full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers so that the message of impeachment resonates not only on September 24, but in the critical weeks and months ahead.
We need money now to help promote and transport people who want peace to Washington on September 24, for the next round of newspaper ads, and for the acceleration and continuation of the impeachment drive into the Congressional elections next year.
Ramsey Clark is a former US Attorney of the United States.