The city of New Orleans announced a $13.3 million settlement Monday for several police brutality cases from the weeks before and after Hurricane Katrina, reports the New York Times.
For one mother, the settlements ended what was an “‘awful, long and rough road’ beginning with acts of grim and pointless violence and continuing through an 11-year legal journey.”
The trio of cases included some of the most violent and talked-about examples of police violence in recent years before Ferguson and the rise of Black Lives Matter. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu addressed those difficult days at the news conference announcing the settlements to a crowd composed of victims’ families, the report says:
“There were angels among us that we never knew,” the mayor [Landrieu] said of those days in 2005, when the city was flooded and nearly anarchic. “But evidently, there were demons as well.”
He offered an apology on behalf of the city and spoke of the strides the New Orleans Police Department had made under extensive federal oversight, in what he called “the most comprehensive consent decree in the history of the United States.” He also said that the 17 plaintiffs had offered forgiveness in return.
Some at the news conference confirmed this forgiveness.
The cases prompted federal scrutiny, and the U.S. Department of Justice conducted an investigation of New Orleans police that called for a court-enforced reform plan.
Victims’ families and city officials attended a private prayer service before the news conference, reported NBC News.
SOURCE: New York Times, NBC News
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10 Years Later: Remembering Hurricane Katrina
22 photos Launch gallery
1. Governors Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi declared states of emergency, and advised many to leave their homes on Aug. 26. With little preparation, many stayed behind to fight the storm and were left stranded.
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2. A family is seen trying to escape the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in the days it wreaked havoc in New Orleans.
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3. Over 30,000 were left without their homes and possessions because of the hurricane.
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4. The National Guard and UNICEF arrived in New Orleans days after the storm arrived in its worst hit area, the Lower Ninth Ward. In the nation's history, this was the first time UNICEF was called to provide aid in the United States.
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5. Approximately 1,833 deaths were reported in the wake of the hurricane, but with no real memorial or list of the victims, many believe the number is much higher.
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6. Former President George Bush was slammed for his delay in providing relief to the city, leading to an outburst from Kanye West, who stated the president did not care about Black people during a live telethon.
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7. For a week, 30,000 people took shelter in the Superdome, where they were given food and water. With limited medical help, reports claimed 100 people died, when only four died from exhaustion, another from an overdose, and one from an apparent suicide.
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8. Many believed the delay in assistance stemmed from race and class in New Orleans. With the city's poorest areas hit the worst, conspiracy theories soon followed.
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9. When the levees broke on Aug. 29, flooding hit Canal St. The same day, the storm's hardest winds of 150 miles an hour (240 kilometers an hour) hit the city.
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10. More than a million housing units were destroyed during the storm. Half of them were from Louisiana.
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11. Because of the storm, half of the city's population dropped from 484,674 in April 2000 to 230,172 in July 2006.
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12. The difference in flooding was shocking to residents. While tourist areas were left undamaged, some places received one foot of flooding and others up to 10 feet of flooding.
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13. The majority of relief funds sent to New Orleans by George Bush ($120.5 billion) went to emergency relief ($75 billion), not rebuilding.
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14. Private insurance companies provided a total of $30 billion to residents, a lot less than federal aid provided.
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15. A reported 600,000 households were still displaced a month after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
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16. In the four days after the levees broke, 140 premature babies were brought to the Woman's Hospital in New Orleans.
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17. Midwives helped deliver 20 healthy babies in the storm's aftermath.
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18. While the city lost most of its residents after they were forced to relocate, a slight growth was seen in the city. In 2013, the Census Bureau reported a 2 percent growth (8,827 people) in the metro city area.
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19. The poverty rate in New Orleans hasn't changed since the storm. While it decreased from 18 percent in 1999 to 15 percent in 2007, it increased again in 2012.
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20. 11,494 fewer Whites live in New Orleans due to the storm, but the biggest loss was the African-American community, with 99,650 less. The numbers were not only from the storm, but encompass between 2000 and 2013.
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21. From the Salvation Army: "@salvationarmyus continues to be a source of hope, stability, and service to the residents of the Gulf Coast 10 years after #hurricanekatrina. #doingthemostgood"
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22. From photographer Paul Conrad: "Father Jim O'Bryan of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pearlington, Miss., gives his sermon Sunday morning October 2, 2005, one month after #hurricanekatrina . The church lifted off its foundation and floated to the middle of the road during the storm surge from Katrina. Work crews destroyed the remainder of the church when they cleared route 607 of debris."
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