of neighbors survived Hurricane Katrina, then fought off looters.
by Bob Dart
Cox News Service
Saturday, September 10, 2005
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
"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
"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.
About a week later, she said, she finally saw a New Orleans police officer on her street
and told him she had guns.
"He told me, 'Honey, I don't blame you,' " she said.
The several dozen people who did not evacuate from Algiers Point said that for days after
the storm, they did not see any police officers or soldiers but did see gangs of
So they set up what might be the ultimate neighborhood watch.
At night, the balcony of a beautifully restored Victorian house built in 1871 served as a
"I had the right flank," Vinnie Pervel said. Sitting in a white rocking chair on
the balcony, his neighbor, Gareth Stubbs, protected the left flank.
They were armed with an arsenal gathered from the neighborhood: a shotgun, pistols, a
flare gun and a Vietnam-era AK-47.
They were backed up by Gregg Harris, who lives in the house with Pervel, and Pervel's
74-year-old mother, Jennie, who lives across Pelican Street from her son and is known in
Algiers Point as "Miss P."
Many nights, Miss P. had a .38-caliber pistol in one hand and rosary beads in the other.
"Mom was a trouper," Pervel said.
The threat was real.
On the day after Katrina blew through, Pervel was carjacked a couple of blocks from his
house. A past president of the Algiers Point Association homeowners group, Pervel was
going to houses that had been evacuated and turning off the gas to prevent fires.
A guy with a mallet "hit me in the back of the head," Pervel said. "He
said, 'We want your keys.' I said, 'Here, take them.' "
Inside the white Ford van were a portable generator, tools and other hurricane supplies. A
hurt and frustrated Pervel threw pliers at the van as it drove off and broke a back
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.
Not far away, Oakwood Center mall was seriously damaged in a fire caused by vandals.
"We were really afraid of fires. These old houses are so close together that if one
was set afire, the whole street would all go up," Harris said. "We lived in
terror for a week."
Their house is filled with antique furniture, and there's a well-kept garden and patio in
"We've been restoring this house for 20 years," Harris said.
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
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."
Despite their efforts, some deserted houses in the neighborhood were broken into and
looted, Pervel said.
Now the Algiers Point militia has defiantly declared it will not heed any orders for
mandatory evacuation. The relatively elevated neighborhood area is across the Mississippi
River from the city's worst flooded areas and has running water, gas and phone service.
"They say they're going to drag us kicking and screaming from our houses. For what?
To take us to concentration camps where we'll be raped and killed," Ramona Parker
said. "This is supposed to be America. We're honest citizens. We're not
troublemakers. We pay our taxes."
"It would be cruel for the city to make us evacuate after what we've been
through," Pervel said.
The roof was damaged on her house, and the rains left "water up to my ankles,"
Boza said. So she moved into her mother's home nearby.
She said she still has 42 bullets to expend before she'll be forcibly evacuated.
"Then I hope the men they send to pull me out are 6 feet 2 inches and really
cute," she said. "I'll be struggling and flirting at the same time."
guns and generators, a few homeowners stand guard over neighbourhoods
10:56 AM EDT Sep 14
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - 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
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.
It is a short drive but a world away from the city's downtown, where tens of thousands of
hungry, thirsty and increasingly angry people waited in misery at the Superdome and the
New Orleans Convention Center before evacuations finally began.
Here, Carolan starts his nightly watch by lighting a big fire in his barbecue pit. Hackett
turns his lights on and jams a 4.5-metre wooden brace against the front door so no one can
The night is "black, black, black," Hackett says. "It reminds me of when I
was in Vietnam, it reminds me of Dac To."
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."'
Hackett, who in his 50s, lives alone, with his two cats and a bunch of neighbour's pets
that he is caring for. Carolan, 46, is keeping watch with his brother, wife, son, and
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.
"It was pandemonium for a couple of nights. We just felt that when they got done with
the stores, they'd come to the homes," Hackett says. "When it's not easy
pickings, they'll go somewhere else."
Things have gotten quieter, the men say, but not quiet.
"What do you say, I'm a survivor," John Carolan says with a laugh, thinking of
the reality TV show. "Hey, give me the million bucks now."
How long can Carolan and the others hold out?
Hackett has enough gas and food for a month. Carolan says they have weeks' worth of food
and bug repellent, and he will siphon gas from left-behind cars to keep his electricity
"Everything we have is in our homes. With the lawlessness in this town, are you going
to walk away from everything you built?" Carolan says. "A lot of people think
we're stupid. They say, 'Why did you stay?' I say, 'Why didn't you stay?"'
NRA's Wayne LaPierre Slams Seizure of Guns in New Orleans
National Rifle Association (NRA) leader Wayne LaPierre slammed New Orleans
authorities Monday for seizing legal firearms from lawful residents.
"What weve seen in Louisiana - the breakdown of law and order in the aftermath
of disaster - is exactly the kind of situation where the Second Amendment was intended to
allow citizens to protect themselves, LaPierre said. "When law enforcement
isnt available, Americans turn to the one right that protects all the others - the
right to keep and bear arms, LaPierre added. "This attempt to repeal the Second
Amendment should be condemned.
The New York Times reported last Thursday that no civilians in New Orleans will be allowed
to have guns, quoting the superintendent of police that "only law enforcement are
allowed to have weapons.
A Louisiana state statute allows the chief law enforcement officer to "regulate
possession of firearms during declared emergencies. "But regulate doesnt
mean confiscate, said Chris W. Cox, the NRAs chief lobbyist.
"Authorities are using that statute to do what the looters and criminals could not:
disarm the law-abiding citizens of New Orleans trying to protect their homes and
families, Cox said. "The NRA will not stand idly by while guns are confiscated
from law-abiding people whore trying to defend themselves. Were exploring
every legal option available to protect the rights of lawful people in New Orleans and
were taking steps to overturn such laws in every state where they exist.
"Local authorities in New Orleans are turning natures assault on human life
into mans assault on human rights, LaPierre said. "Four million NRA
members intend to stop this unconstitutional power grab.
Stops Firearms Sales To Those In Need
Imagine your firearms were destroyed or stolen by looters
By Sasha Talcott, Globe Staff | September 11, 2005
BATON ROUGE, La. -- As fearful residents rush to stock up on guns,
Wal-Mart, one of the region's biggest suppliers, abruptly stopped selling them at 40
stores scattered throughout the Gulf Coast.
The move infuriated some Wal-Mart customers in this fiercely progun region, some of whom
said the big chain left them without protection as the violence increased after Hurricane
''We had a lot of chaos," said Donald Goff, who was sitting in a white pickup outside
a local Wal-Mart store. ''They should be open to sell guns. They should not be doing this
Smaller stores are eagerly filling the void. Spillway Sportsman, near Baton Rouge, sold
172 guns in one three-day period after the hurricane, when normally it might sell 15. One
mother came in to buy her first gun after she and her two children, ages 9 and 12,
witnessed a slaying on the streets of New Orleans, said Scott Roe, Spillway's owner.
''Her comment was, 'I was a card-carrying, antigun liberal -- not anymore,' " Roe
said. ''She said, 'I'm going back home, and I am not going back unarmed.' "
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman, Karen Burk, attributed the company's decision to pull guns from
the shelves to ''some very fluid circumstances and changing situations" in the
region. She did not elaborate far beyond that. ''We're trying to take care of our
customers and community and be a responsible retailer at the same time," Burk said.
In addition to its decision to stop gun sales at 40 stores, Wal-Mart also has placed
severe restrictions on gun sales at some other stores in the area. Executives ordered the
guns removed from their glass display cases and put into a vault instead. At those stores,
customers who want to purchase a gun must select it through a catalog.
Burk said the retailer has no date set to return guns to the stores.
Wal-Mart's decision to stop gun sales also earned it praise from several customers, who
said police would protect them from any trouble.
''Why can't we get along? This is a time of crisis," said Mike White of Kenner, La.
He said people who need guns for legitimate reasons, such as hunting, would not be buying
Gun sales have become a hot-button issue for Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer.
Filmmaker Michael Moore blasted the store's gun sales in his documentary ''Bowling for
Columbine." In January, the company agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a lawsuit
filed by California's attorney general that accused it of violating state gun laws.
But in post-Katrina Louisiana, a lot of anger erupted when the retailer took guns off its
Isiah Smith said looters stole cars in his neighborhood and broke into homes as he fled
from Laplace to Baton Rouge to escape the storm.
He said Wal-Mart should not have stopped gun sales. ''People have to protect
themselves," he said.
© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
Fearful Southerners buy firearms at torrid pace
BY LISA ANDERSON, MICHAEL MARTINEZ AND RAY QUINTANILLA
BATON ROUGE, La. - (KRT) - Gun sales across the South
have been booming since the first reports surfaced of armed looters roaming the streets of
New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And images of shots being fired at relief
workers only elevated fears in some communities.
Now, as hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes are being resettled,
gun store owners say they're being flooded by a demand for guns - particularly in southern
states and others where many of the hurricane victims are being relocated.
Mostly, they say, the demand for guns is being fueled by "good people" wanting
to protect their families and properties. That includes people who might not otherwise
purchase such weapons, they add.
Frank Pirie says his Baton Rouge store, Bowie Outfitters, is being inundated by a demand
for handguns and shotguns in the storm's aftermath. "It's probably as many as we'd
sell in almost a year," he said.
On Wednesday morning, he sold handguns to three nurses who were working in downtown New
Orleans. Pirie also gave them shooting lessons, he added.
The nurses told Pirie they were "going back into a war zone," he said.
"They weren't going back without protection."
But sales are particularly brisk among men and women in Baton Rouge where residents are
growing concerned about a wave of newcomers into their community - most of whom arrive
with little more than the clothes on their back.
"They're saying this is racist, Ma'am, but that's not true," said Pirie, adding
that in recent days he has sold guns to both white and black residents.
"People are just nervous. There is a certain element that was down in New Orleans
that has been displaced." Among the good people, he and others fear, is a criminal
element, that includes drug dealers who have lost their jobs and people who steal for a
living, he explained.
The FBI, which conducts the criminal background checks on those wanting to buy guns, says
it's too early to tell whether there's a surge in gun sales taking place in Louisiana or
anyplace else. But, they acknowledge, there's no shortage of homeowners putting up signs
that read "Looters will be shot on sight."
On the ground, there's mounting evidence to suggest firearms are a hot commodity.
Take the neighborhood surrounding the Astrodome in Houston, where gun stores say they're
selling firearms at a brisk pace. "Basically, what we are seeing is people who are
just afraid," explained Valde Garcia, manager of Bailey's House of Guns, located five
blocks from the Astrodome where thousands of Katrina victims are being temporarily housed.
Fear has sparked a demand for firearms among those who might not otherwise want guns, said
Garcia, adding that he has sold a dozen guns - mostly handguns - to Houston homeowners who
didn't know what else to do to ease their fears.
"What we offer is a way for people to protect themselves," he said. "Keep
in mind nobody knows who these folks coming into the community are."
Of the dozen guns sold within a few hours on Wednesday, most were 38 caliber revolvers.
In Mobile, at the southern Alabama chain of seven pawn shops called Eddie's Wholesale
Jewelry, gun sales are up 30 percent in the wake of Katrina because area residents say
they want protection from "looters and gang members" who are arriving from New
Orleans, according to a chain owner and store clerks.
"Things are crazy," said Josh Collins, 25, a clerk at the Eddie's in the
Critchon neighborhood of Mobile. "It's just people in time of need. It's just people
- they're just trying to fend for themselves and their family.
"There's a lot of gang people from New Orleans. Didn't you hear they're shooting at
police (in New Orleans)? The people are coming here. You've just got to be ready, you
know," Collins said.
A favorite handgun is the .38, sold mostly to women, Collins said. The gun takes five
rounds and it's easy to load and costs less than $300, he explained.
"It's just for protection. People are trying to steal everything," Collins said,
referring to an article in his hometown newspaper featuring a 64-year-old man who wanted
to take his wife to Gainesville, Fla., to have cancer surgery. But thieves siphoned his
gasoline, and he didn't have the money to buy any gas.
The hot topic of conversation in Eddie's pawnshop this week was the race issue - whether
the images of black looters in New Orleans was unfairly casting evacuees from New Orleans
as potential criminals carrying a crime wave into their newly adopted communities.
An owner of the Eddie's pawn and gun shop chain, Sandra Gillespie, 45, who is white,
struck up a conversation with a customer, Henrietta Brown, 51, who is black, when she
entered the pawn shop to cash a check. About 55 to 60 percent of handgun buyers at the
pawn shop are African-American, according to Gillespie and Collins.
"Let me ask you if it's a race issue," Gillespie asked Brown as she walked into
"No," Brown replied. "They say people are coming over here (from New
Orleans) and beating people. I'm scared. It's just a bunch of sorry ... thugs.
"It's mixed," Brown added. "No, it ain't all black. Don't put it on
that," Brown told a reporter visiting the shop.
Brown, a van driver at a child daycare facility call Kidds Klub Academy, said she already
owns a handgun.
"I got it. I'm ready," Brown said. "I'm trying to be nice but if they come
over, it's pow-pow," she said, gesturing as if she were holding a shotgun.
One 20-year-old African-American man, who declined to give his name, walked into a Mobile
pawn shop and asked to look at a 9 mm and a Glock handgun. The man said he believed five
evacuees from New Orleans were trying to take over portions of a public housing project
and waved handguns at him and his friends.
"They came up and we said, `What up? What do you need?' They said everybody clear
out, we're going to take over. And we said, `What you say, brother? If you want it, you're
going to have to take it,'" the 20-year-old man said.
A scuffle ensued, according to the man, who added that he and more than a dozen friends
overpowered the group from New Orleans.
Larry Anderson, who has run the largest gun store in central Florida for more than 15
years, said he's not surprised by the surge in gun sales across Louisiana and other parts
of the South in the last few days.
"Whenever people feel their way of life is being threatened, they are going to go out
and buy guns for protection," said Anderson, whose store carries an inventory of
about 1,500 firearms - one of the largest gun stores in Florida.
"It happened during 9-11 and it happens just about every time there's a hurricane on
the way in Florida, too."
When last year's hurricane season was over, he explained, gun stores reported sales
increases of between 20 and 25 percent. That's a banner year by any measure, he said.
"People want to protect what they have because they've worked hard for it,"
Anderson, 50, said.
(Anderson reported from Baton Rouge; Martinez reported from Mobile, Ala.; and Ray
Quintanilla reported from Chicago.)
2005, Chicago Tribune.
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