2006 Press Releases

2.10.2006: ACLU of Louisiana Formally Requests Investigation into Gretna Bridge

United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Criminal Section, PHB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Re:  Police Shooting on Crescent City Connection, New Orleans

Dear Sir or Madam,

I write to formally request that your office launch an investigation into the incident now commonly called "the Gretna Bridge Incident."

I am referring to the incident that occurred on Wednesday, August 31, 2005, three days after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. Media reports indicate that several hundred people were attempting to flee for safety from New Orleans across the Mississippi river to the area known as the "Westbank," comprised of several small towns and municipalities in Jefferson Parish. The trapped people were crossing the Crescent City Connection, which is the bridge that links downtown New Orleans with the Westbank.

Reports indicate that the Gretna Police Officers blocked the roadway, and denied the people access to Jefferson Parish. Some reports indicate that officers also discharged their weapons in the vicinity of persons attempting to flee. The multitude of people were turned back, some in wheelchairs and on crutches, and were denied access to one of the only routes out of hurricane and flood-stricken New Orleans.

I believe that this incident was a gross violation of the rights of the fleeing people, and that the police may have committed unlawful acts when they used potentially deadly force against unarmed civilians. This sort of violent behavior warrants a full investigation by the Department of Justice. I hope that you will proceed expeditiously to take all remedial and investigatory steps within your power. Please advise of your decision and any action taken in this matter.