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Looting of the Big Easy

Katrina New Orleans

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#1 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 06:13 PM

Here's the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9131493/

OK, so here's my question. Why do people loot? What is it about disasters that brings out the worst in some people? Why do some people who would never, ever, steal during normal circumstances, loot when disaster strikes? What turns them into theives? Is it because they feel they won't get caught?
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#2 Cardie

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 06:55 PM

People loot in disasters because they know the police are too busy to catch them.  In this case there are people stealing food, bottled water, diapers and other necessities, for which you almost can't blame them since city services are non-existent and the Red Cross can't even get in.  But others were taking expensive shoes, jewelry and electronics, which are clearly crimes of greed and opportunity.

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#3 Peridot

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 06:55 PM

Those are good questions, LoTS.  There's a variety of answers.

....Some of these people are in shock.  They may have lost everything they owned, and they're desperately grabbing at anything they see, anything that still has monetary value.  Basically, they're panicking. :eek2:

....Some of them have no food, and some of them also have children in their care who have no food. :(

....Some of them may be people who live in poverty continually, and who feel that society owes them something.  They may see this as a chance to get some of what others have regularly, that they always have to do without. :oh:

....And most likely some of them are the inevitable opportunists, the "what-can-I-get-out-of-this" folks, who will take advantage of any situation they find themselves in. :Oo: :thumbs-down:

In this situation, I personally think a lot of the people looting are in the first two categories.

As for the comment of one tourist... :eh:

Quote

Denise Bollinger, a tourist from Philadelphia, stood outside and snapped pictures in amazement.

Its downtown Baghdad, the housewife said. Its insane. Ive wanted to come here for 10 years. I thought this was a sophisticated city. I guess not.

....she's got a home to go back to, likely.  A lot of the people she's seeing do not. :pout:

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#4 eechick

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 06:58 PM

Some are looting homes too.

#5 ZipperInt

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 07:14 PM

Interesting topic LoTS - I read a similar (almost identical, actually) link on another website and was thinking about the same subject.

I do think a distinction should be made between taking food, medication, etc. from an abandoned building compared to taking non-survival related items (jewelery, certain items of clothing, etc.), because in some cases survival is definitely more important than paying for something, however, there is a thin line that should be drawn when defining what kind of actions are necessary in such a situation.

In the cases where people loot for luxury item's, its probably because they think they won't be caught, and that there will be no real consequences for their actions - other then the free stuff they'll get. Since the store owners are usually not in a position to stop them, and law enforcement is usually too busy with other matters, looters probably *will* get away, which is unfortunate, since they certainly committed a crime.

Peridot did a good job at dividing up the reasons for looting, and while I definitely sympathize with the people who take things to survive, the people who loot to 'get back at society' and the opportunists are people to be wary of, because they're probably the ones who have the least respect for the rule of law, or any other social obligations they might have to people who happen to be in their way.
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#6 Anarch

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 07:43 PM

Not that I'm condoning this, but there's an argument to be made that if the items in question are going to be ruined or destroyed anyway...

#7 D'Monix

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 07:55 PM

used to, the national guard was authorized to shoot looters on sight in event of a natural disaster, now i think it's a bit less harsh, a minimum 3 year prison term for people caught looting

#8 Lin731

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 08:01 PM

I think alot of the looting is simply people with nothing grabbing up food, water etc...to survive for the time being. As ZipperInt mentioned, I think we need to distinguish between looting for food and water and people thinking they have carte Blanche to rob their neighbors and steal from the local jewelry store. I really think most of the looting right now is simply to get by until they can get some outside help. The other folks that are just stealing for the sake of it..I hope they get busted and thrown in jail where they belong. I have no patience for people that feed on the misery of others.
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#9 Spectacles

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 08:10 PM

Yep. What Lin said.
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#10 Shalamar

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 08:16 PM

From the reports I'm reading they are looting for food/water and necessities, but jewerly, microwaves, foot ball jersies and other luxury items. In front of cops and national guard- in fact one policeman was shot in the head by a looter. He is expected to survive.
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#11 Cardie

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 09:39 PM

A third reason for looting that a CNN reporter heard was for barter.  Some people figured that the necessities would be in such short supply for a long time, and since no one can get cash out of any New Orleans bank, stocking up on anything would give you leverage to trade for necessities.

I guess these guys took a lesson from Sawyer on Lost.

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#12 Anastashia

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 10:00 PM

I'd be a lot less condeming of the people taking necessities as long as they plan on going back and paying for them when the stores reopen.
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#13 Mel

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 12:12 AM

I can kind of understand the looting (not condone, but understand--particularly the grocery store looting), but like I posted in the Hurricane Katrina thread, what I don't get is carjacking.  According to an article on CNN there were attempted carjackings in NO earlier today.  Why?  What are you going to do with a car in NO?  The city is filling up with water and my understanding is that there are still no roads open out of the city.

#14 Cardie

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 01:08 AM

Cars have power.  You can listen to the radio or have a short blast of air conditioning.  You can sleep better in a car than in the SuperDome.  And when a way out opens, you could go for it.  Lots of these people have never been able to afford a car in their lives, and may figure now is the time.

I'm thinking right now of the scenes in War of the Worlds of refugee behavior in a big city--Spielberg seems to have got it right.

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#15 ZipperInt

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 01:18 AM

Cardie said:

I'm thinking right now of the scenes in War of the Worlds of refugee behavior in a big city--Spielberg seems to have got it right.

Yeah, it sure looks like he did. When faced with life or death situations, it seems that people can quickly and easily throw out learned behaviour and do some pretty wild things. What I do wonder is if this reaction is natural and should be expected, or if there is a way to prevent things like looting, mass panic, etc..
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#16 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 01:46 AM

I can understand looting for food, water, ect...IF the disaster was unexpected. But these people HAD forewarning! They were told to leave, or risk their lives...And because they CHOSE to stay it's suppose to be ok to loot for food and water, when they should've left in the first place? No.

But if like an earthquake happened, and the city is in chaos with no power, ect...I could understand looting for food and water...

D'Monix said:

used to, the national guard was authorized to shoot looters on sight in event of a natural disaster, now i think it's a bit less harsh, a minimum 3 year prison term for people caught looting

A bit harsh if they were stealing food and water, if the disaster was unannounced, yeah. If they had forewarning, like in this case, and they chose to stay, then I don't think shooting looters on sight is too harsh. These people are the very worst of society, and we'd all be better off without them. (looters I mean)

I remember hearing on MSNBC about a person who chose to stay, and later called 911 saying he would hold off breaking through his roof until the last possible minute, but he wanted to live so to come and rescue him. My thoughts when I heard that were: "You should've left when they told you to then. Deal with it."

That may be harsh, but I have no sympathy for those idiots that put themselves, and their children, in harms way for no reason.
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson

#17 Anarch

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 01:58 AM

For fun with the whole looting/finding dichotomy, see here.

[Innumerable other sites have noticed this, but I think this is probably the best visitation of the issue.]

#18 UoR11

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 03:00 AM

There's also a lot of thought that many people who stayed did so figuring the hurricane wouldn't be too bad, and then they could run free looting. It's brutally cynical, but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest, either.
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#19 Morrhigan

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 05:56 AM

I've been wondering abuot the evacuation process... was transportation provided for people who don't have any of their own? Not everyone owns a car. And what about the homeless? I've gone through times when I didn't have a working car, though I'm sure my friends would have helped me leave town if there was a hurricane on its way. I don't know what I would have done, though, if I didn't have someone I could count on to help me.
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#20 Cardie

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 06:29 AM

Some people did choose, foolishly, to stay, but many poor people in NO don't have cars--or money to pay for hotels.  No one thought to provide transportation out to some shelters set up further inland.  Instead, they herded everyone who couldn't get out into the SuperDome--which is now turning into a nightmare.

I don't understand why the military hasn't sent transport helicopters and flown people out to ships in the Gulf, as CJ has commented.  For an entire day there has been virtual paralysis in regard to getting those people still in the downtown area out.

Cardie
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