2006 Press Releases

7.18.2006: Open Letter Issued to Attorney General Foti on Long Overdue "Gretna Bridge Incident" Investigation

July 18, 2006
Attorney General Charles C. Foti
State of Louisiana Office of the Attorney General
Investigations Division
1885 North 3rd St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
P.O. Box 94005
Baton Rouge, LA 70804

Via: U.S. Mail and Facsimile to (225) 326-6197

Re:  Open Letter on Long Overdue "Gretna Bridge Incident" Investigation

Dear Attorney General Foti:

The ACLU of Louisiana calls on you to immediately release the results of your long overdue investigation of the August 31, 2005, Gretna Bridge Incident.  This involves an acknowledged roadblock by the Gretna Police Department to prevent victims of hurricane Katrina from fleeing the devastation and flooding.  Supposedly, you opened the case at least eight months ago.  While initially applauding your efforts and urging a speedy release of the report this past January, the delay in wrapping it up makes no sense, especially in that the victims of the roadblock and the public stand waiting for word from you.  Justice delayed is justice denied. 

Furthermore, a spokesman for the State Department said the US Department of Justice wants to see your report, as well.  It came up in Geneva, Switzerland, at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Committee as an alleged violation of international human rights based on race.  Also, here at home, it may infringe on federal nondiscrimination statutes.  Since the majority of the trapped persons happened to be black and poor, the actions of the police may have been racially motivated.  In any case, we called your office six weeks ago and urged those responsible to move on and head for the finish line, figuratively speaking.  Our interest in this matter arises from a belief that a gross violation of civil rights and liberties occurred for those fleeing a natural and manmade disaster.  The police may have committed unlawful acts when they used potentially deadly force without cause by shooting over the heads of several hundred unarmed civilians, including some in wheelchairs and on crutches.  As public officials, they must be held accountable for their actions under the law, and the Attorney General of the state has a responsibility to the people to get the facts and act accordingly.  It has now been eleven months since the incident occurred, and we do not have an answer from your office on the results of your investigation.

We hope that you will take your commitment to investigate seriously, and that you will release the results of your investigation immediately.  Please advise your response upon receipt by facsimile to 504-522-0618.   

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.  

Sincerely,  

Joe Cook
Executive Director