Archive for the ‘social breakdown’ Category

June 14, 2007

New Haven, Connecticut

From WTNH of June 11, 2007

Armed citizen patrol in New Haven

One group armed with guns is ready to make their New Haven neighborhood a safer place by patrolling in the area around Edgewood Park.

The Edgewood Park Defense Patrol will be patrolling the 16-block area from Whalley to Edgewood and Winthrop to West Park. They believe that the police are not doing their part to keep the streets safe.

Their uniform is a black tee-shirt with Edgewood Park Defense Patrol and their mission is to keep peace on the streets with armed bike patrols.

“It’s certainly not the substitute that one would want but when you’re missing what you’re supposed to have and things are slipping out of hand then you’re left with no choice but to do something about it,” said Eliezer Greer.

Members of Yeshiva New Haven decided to take matters into their own hands after Rabbi Dov Greer was physically assaulted Sunday night. They say they’ve been appealing to the city for years with no results and are tired of sitting by while the vandalism, robberies and muggings increased.

“Being home with our families in the evenings is what we’d rather be doing than having to ensure that there’s safety and security in the neighborhood,” said Aviad Hack.

They will be patrolling in pairs every night from 6-10 PM, with one person carrying a concealed gun.

“Anyone who patrols with a gun in an attempt to use it as a deterrent is putting themselves and other citizens at risk and I absolutely discourage it,” said Mayor John DeStefano.

DeStefano says he has looked at the deployment levels in the Edgewood Park area and believes the police coverage is sufficient. News Channel 8 saw squad cars and officers walking the beat, but one man who is running for mayor, says he does not believe in vigilantism, but supports the residents move to protect their neighborhood.

“Perhaps it’s time to look at contacting the Governor and asking the Governor to provide state police department’s oversight in helping New Haven,” said Jim Newton of New Haven.

The Defense Patrol says that they don’t believe this will make them targets, rather it will wake up the neighborhood and encourage others to join in. They say they will continue the patrols as long as necessary.

September 21, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana

From Netscape/CNN/Reuters of September 21, 2005

After Katrina, stories of gun battles

After the storm came the carjackers and burglars. Then came the gun battles and the chemical explosions that shook the restored Victorians in New Orleans’ Algiers Point neighborhood.

“The hurricane was a breeze compared with the crime and terror that followed,” said Gregg Harris, a psychotherapist who lives in the battered area.

As life returned to this close-knit neighborhood three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, residents said they hoped their experience could convince political leaders to get serious about the violence and poor services that have long been an unfortunate hallmark of their city.

“I think now it’s a wake-up call,” Harris said.

After the storm, the neighborhood association had to act as law enforcement and emergency response unit as city services collapsed and the police force was unable to protect them.

Citizens organized armed patrols and checked on the elderly. They slept on their porches with loaded shotguns and bolted awake when intruders stumbled on the aluminum cans they had scattered on the sidewalk.

Gunshots rang out for days, sometimes terrifyingly close.

For Harris, the first warning sign came on Tuesday, the day after the storm, when two young men hit his partner, Vinnie Pervel, over the head and drove off with his Ford van.

(Much more)

September 12, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana

From the September 10, 2005 Austin American-Statesman:

NEW ORLEANS — The Algiers Point militia put away its weapons Friday as Army soldiers patrolled the historic neighborhood across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter.

But the band of neighbors who survived Hurricane Katrina and then fought off looters has not disarmed.

“Pit Bull Will Attack. We Are Here and Have Gun and Will Shoot,” said the sign on Alexandra Boza’s front porch. Actually, said the woman behind the sign, “I have two pistols.”

“I’m a part of the militia,” Boza said. “We were taking the law into our own hands, but I didn’t kill anyone.”

She did quietly open her front door and fire a warning shot one night when she heard a loud group of young men approaching her house.

Another afternoon, a gunfight broke out on the streets as armed neighbors and armed intruders exchanged fire.

“About 25 rounds were fired,” Harris said.

Blood was later found on the street from a wounded intruder.

There are gas lamps on the columned porch that stayed on during the storm and its aftermath. The militia rigged car headlights and a car battery on porches of nearby houses. Then they put empty cans beneath trees that had fallen across both ends of the block.

When someone approached in the darkness, “you could hear the cans rattle.

Then we would hit the switch at the battery and light up the street,” Pervel said. “We would yell, ‘We’re going to count three, and if you don’t identify yourself, we’re going to start shooting.’ “

They could hear people fleeing and never fired a shot.

During the days, the hurricane holdouts patrolled the streets protecting their houses and the ones of evacuees.

“I was packing,” Robert Johns said. “A .22 magnum with hollow points and an 8 mm Mauser from World War II with armor-piercing shells.”

September 10, 2005

Picayune, Mississippi

From the September 7, 2005 Florida Times-Union:

Hampton, a former Army sergeant, said he doesn’t frighten easily. But Katrina and the looters that came through his Picayune neighborhood changed that.

“I was scared every minute. I prayed a lot,” he said. “I don’t wear my dog tags that often, but I had them on for them to identify my body.”

Hampton said he’d gotten home on several flat tires after driving from his son’s house. Inside, he found a television and a DVD player gone. His wife’s car, a boat and a riding lawn mower were also missing.

With no car or phone service to call for help, Hampton stayed behind to care for his dogs and protect his property from looters who roamed freely at night. He hid in a corner, clutching guns in each hand and occasionally catching a few winks.

Hampton said he heard someone on his property Thursday and fired a shot after the man cursed and refused to leave. Hampton doesn’t know if he wounded the stranger.

“It was very intense,” Hampton said. “That’s all I had left and I wouldn’t let anybody take it away from me. This is America. If your neighbor gets down, you’re supposed to help him, not go and kick him.”

September 5, 2005

Biloxi, Mississippi

From the Washington Post of September 5, 2005
(Requires free registration)

Neighbors Team Up To Provide Security

Jeffrey Powell yanked the cushions off his living room sofa and arranged them on the bed of his truck. Then he got his shotgun, made himself comfortable, and spent the night in his driveway, protecting his hurricane-ravaged home and enjoying whatever breeze he could catch on a steamy night.

Powell is part of the Popps Ferry Landing neighborhood watch, a group of citizens trying to restore order and peace in their middle-class community a week after Hurricane Katrina brought her chaos.

“We’re not going to have any looters out here,” said Dan Shearin, 56, Powell’s next-door neighbor. “We have some burly men who are sleeping outside with guns. If the looters come, we’ll take care of them.”

They haven’t shot anyone, but they had to scare off a few groups of people they didn’t know in the middle of the night, Shearin said.

As stories of violent and desperate looters have made their way across Mississippi, people in communities where law enforcement has been overwhelmed are reaching for their guns to police their streets.

In Popps Ferry Landing, many neighbors had lived near each other for years but had never spoken. The realization that their safety and homes were vulnerable and police presence was scarce brought them together quickly. The Dollar Store up the road was looted and vandalized pretty badly.

“We haven’t exactly seen organized law enforcement out here,” said Hugh Worden, 53, who lives on the other side of Powell. “The first day after the storm, we saw law enforcement out here. After that, there’s not been much patrol. I suppose police are protecting the main streets.”

(More)

September 5, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana

From Toronto’s Canada.com of September 5, 2005

With guns and generators, a few homeowners stand guard over neighbourhoods

When night falls, Charlie Hackett climbs the steps to his boarded-up window, takes down the plywood, grabs his 12-gauge shotgun and waits.

He is waiting for looters and troublemakers, for anyone thinking his neighbourhood has been abandoned like so many others across the city. Two doors down, John Carolan is doing the same on his screened-in porch, pistol by his side.

They are not about to give up their homes to the lawlessness that has engulfed New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

“We kind of together decided we would defend what we have here and we would stay up and defend the neighbourhood,” says Hackett, a U.S. Army veteran with a snow-white beard and a business installing custom kitchens.

“I don’t want to kill anybody,” he says, “but I’d sure like to scare ’em.”

With generators giving them power, food to last for weeks and several guns each for protection, the men are two of a scattered community holed up across the residential streets of the city’s Garden District, a lush neighbourhood with many antebellum mansions.

The streets, where towering live oaks once offered cool shade, are now often impassable because of huge fallen branches and downed power lines. Lovely porches framed in wrought iron lay smashed. Many of the homes appear only slightly damaged, or even untouched.

But the neighbourhoods are stunningly empty, and so quiet that they sound like a forest.

They have not had a problem staying awake. Each night there are gunshots in the distance, sometimes people walking through, an occasional car driving by.

“Last night I had to draw down on some people,” Carolan says. A car with what sounded like a crowd of drunken, partying kids came through and stopped.

“I had to come out with a flashlight in one hand, pistol in the other,” he says, crossing his arms like an X. “I said: ‘Who are you? Do you live here? What are you doing here?’ They said, ‘We’re leaving.”‘

In the first few days, they were especially fearful. Looters smashed windows and ransacked a discount store and a drugstore a few streets over. Three men came to Carolan’s house asking about his generator and brandished a machete. He showed them his gun and they left.

September 3, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana

From the Fort Myers’ (FL) News-Press of September 3, 2005

Woman escapes New Orleans, returns home

Rhonda Mandel hates guns.

But then Hurricane Katrina sideswiped New Orleans on Monday and the Fort Myers woman was suddenly stuck in a French Quarter hotel.

Two days later, Mandel found herself and about 75 other guests preparing to drive an armed caravan of abandoned cars out of the city.

Mandel’s driver — a hotel employee armed to the teeth — stopped to show her how to use a handgun.

“I told him no,” Mandel said. “I didn’t want to.”

The engineer looked her in the eye, deadly serious. Just blocks away, the people of New Orleans had already started to loot and rob and kill each other.

“He said, ‘What are you going to do when they shoot me?'” Mandel recalled.

She didn’t have a good response. “OK,” she finally answered. “Show me.”

(Much more)

September 3, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana

From the Corvallis (OR) Gazette-Times of September 3, 2005

Residents of New Orleans arm themselves

Peter Vazquez is strapped.

Barbecuing lamb on a grill outside his home in New Orleans’ historic Algiers Point neighborhood Friday, Vazquez flashed a 9 mm Beretta from his pants pocket and showed visitors a 12-gauge shotgun that was readily accessible in the house.

“Oh, you’ve got to carry,” said Vazquez, a 40-year-old restaurant owner.

As tired and frantic New Orleans residents waited for law enforcement officials to restore order, many decided to take matters into their own hands to protect their streets and property from looting.

With stories spreading of police cars being shot at and of hot-wired school buses backing up and emptying houses of all their possessions, Vazquez and others around the city have been packing heat. A lot of it.

“I’ve been carrying it for the last couple of days,” he said. He said the police have been invisible in his neighborhood; police officials have said they’re vastly overwhelmed and were waiting for the National Guard help that began arriving Friday.

A feeling of helplessness prompted Ed Land, also of the Algiers Point neighborhood, to put his 9 mm automatic in a hip holster and strap it on as he cleaned up hurricane debris from his property.

“A guy in the next street over shot at three individuals — one definitely got hit,” said Land, 51. “He thinks he killed one that died a couple of streets over.”

One of Land’s neighbors walked up and down the street Thursday with a beer in one hand and a shotgun in the other. The man spray-painted a warning and a criticism on the wood he placed over one of the windows of his house to protect them from the storm: “Looters Will Be Shot. Bush Sucks. Where’s FEMA?”

September 2, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana

From the Boston Herald of September 2, 2005

Canoe and a gun get duo to safety

Stephen DeFerrari, a Dedham native whose sister-in-law lives in Hanover, and his wife, Pam, escaped from their New Orleans home yesterday, brandishing a shotgun, in a canoe with their seven cats. Stephen spoke to the Herald last night after they arrived at a Baton Rouge hotel.

It was so dark last night. Pitch black. That was the scary part.

I was standing on the front porch with a shotgun keeping an eye on things. I could hear people breaking into houses right around the corner. We knew. We knew we had to get out. There was no police presence. The people are just going crazy. There doesn’t seem to be any authority at all.

It took a canoe trip of about an hour and a mile long. It started to rain. More water. Just the thing we didn’t need. It kind of felt good because we were so hot, so filthy. It felt good to have cool, clean water.

We had to make two trips in the canoe to get the cats and the dogs and the people we were with to get to higher ground. We saw fires and looting going on. If we didn’t keep on moving and stay away from some people I feel like we would have been in trouble.

Earlier today, a man came up to me. I think he wanted the canoe. He saw I was armed and gave up.

We happened to pass this mall and people were looting it.

People told us the police went in there so they started shooting at the police. So the police left. They (looters) just set the place on fire. We saw it burning and we saw the fire department not even going near the place because the looters were going nuts.

We made it to dry land. We got into an Explorer rented by one of our friend’s daughters. There weren’t too many people on the roads in the beginning. As we got closer to Baton Rouge there started to be more people. There are people with their bags, looking lost. It’s so eerie and strange. People are just lost. I guess most of them probably lost everything they got.

We are lucky, very lucky. Our house didn’t get destroyed. We are still alive. The first thing my wife did after she and her sisters hugged and cried at the hotel, she took a shower. I’m about to do the same.

September 1, 2005

Pascagoula, Mississippi

From the August 31, 2005 Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer:

Many people stayed in their homes during the storm, including Nanette Clark, who lives several blocks behind the boulevard. She and her friend, Jayne Davis, spent the night and day of the storm moving furniture to a higher floor as water lapped, then pounded, at the front door. Some water did seep in, but the door held.

Davis was glad she stayed there; her own home was one of the St. Charles Condominiums in nearby Biloxi, where 30 people were killed by the storm surge on Monday.

On Tuesday night, Davis said, she and Clark shot at looters from the second-floor balcony of her pink house with gingerbread trim. Nobody was injured and the looters scattered, she said. Many hand-painted signs in that neighborhood warned looters that they were likely to be shot by armed homeowners.