When Vigilantes Rule: Feds Hand Down Hate-crime Charges For Post-Katrina Shootings In White Neighborhoods

A few years ago, A.C. Thompson wrote an amazing piece for The Nation describing how white militias formed in some of the more, um, blanched neighb

A few years ago, A.C. Thompson wrote an amazing piece for The Nation describing how white militias formed in some of the more, um, blanched neighborhoods of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and were involved in some cases of outright murder supposedly in the defense of their neighborhoods.

I was especially struck at the time by this passage:

Some of the gunmen prowling Algiers Point were out to wage a race war, says one woman whose uncle and two cousins joined the cause. A former New Orleanian, this source spoke to me anonymously because she fears her relatives could be prosecuted for their crimes. "My uncle was very excited that it was a free-for-all--white against black--that he could participate in," says the woman. "For him, the opportunity to hunt black people was a joy."

"They didn't want any of the 'ghetto niggers' coming over" from the east side of the river, she says, adding that her relatives viewed African-Americans who wandered into Algiers Point as "fair game." One of her cousins, a young man in his 20s, sent an e-mail to her and several other family members describing his adventures with the militia. He had attached a photo in which he posed next to an African-American man who'd been fatally shot. The tone of the e-mail, she says, was "gleeful"--her cousin was happy that "they were shooting niggers."

It was, of course, classic white eliminationism, occurring as it often does in a time of great stress when said stress becomes an excuse for any kind of behavior, including wanton murder.

Well, now the hammer has finally come down:

A former New Orleans resident was charged Thursday with federal hate crimes for his alleged role in a racially motivated shooting of three black men in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., 47, is accused of plotting to defend his Algiers Point neighborhood "from outsiders" including African-Americans, constructing barricades on public streets and using racial epithets to describe black people, according to the five-count indictment.

At one point, Bourgeois allegedly said, "Anything coming up this street darker than a paper bag is getting shot."

The indictment charges Bourgeois with doing just that when three black males walked through the neighborhood toward a makeshift Coast Guard evacuation center on Sept. 1. Bourgeois fired a shotgun at the trio, felling Donnell Herrington and wounding Herrington's two companions near the corner of Pelican Avenue and Vallette Street, according to the indictment.

Later, Bourgeois plucked Herrington's bloodied baseball cap from the ground and proudly displayed it to others, boasting that he "got one" and had shot a "looter, " according to a witness.

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. The same cannot be said of justice -- but it must be said that it is better served cold than not at all.

Now we can wait for Fox News to declare this case another example of the Obama administration favoring blacks against whites, I suppose.

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