Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Law & Order in New Orleans

Military vehicles rolling in.
Armed troops patrolling the streets of the city.
A government official declares that there will be law and order.

Paris in 1940? No.

Tianamen Square in 1989? No.

It’s New Orleans 2006.

“There is law and order in New Orleans --Governor Kathleen Blanco

National Guard soldiers and vehicles rolled into New Orleans for the second time in less than a year on Tuesday, June 20, 2006. The first time seemed reasonable when the Guard went in to assist in controlling the disarray and chaos that followed the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.

But this time the reasons voiced by Governor Kathleen Blanco, Mayor Ray Nagin, (both are Democrats by the way) and Police Superintendent Warren Riley don’t really seem to make sense.

Superintendent Riley said the police are expecting an "influx of people, not necessarily criminals." (emphasis added) He went on to say that the expected influx is more problematic than isolated incidents of violence for authorities to maintain order in the Big Easy. "It's going to be a long, hot summer," he said

So, it sounds like Riley is saying that the National Guard presence is necessary because ordinary people will be coming into the city.

It seems that while some of the soldiers are carrying shotguns and side arms, some are carrying M-16 rifles. National Guard officers and Superintendent Riley made a point of pointing out that while on patrol and at roadblocks, soldiers will have live ammunition. Riley also made it quite clear when he said: "they (the guardsman) have pull-over authority, they are locked and loaded, and they are authorized to use deadly force,"

Doesn’t it seem as if Riley is just itching for something to happen? Governor Blanco and Riley both sound a little like Dirty Harry, “go ahead, make my day.”

I’m not an attorney, but I don’t think this deployment of the guardsmen is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 seeing as how the Act doesn’t apply when a state governor sends in the troops.

(National Guardsmen march out of a meeting with Governor Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin. John McCusker - Times-Picayune)

But it still seems a little disconcerting to have troops in camouflage BDU’s armed with M-16s and Beretta 9 millimeter pistols walking around the neighborhood locked and loaded.


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