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The Right Way to Handle Looters

This is only the first of many.

Katrina looters get 15 years in prison

KENNER, Louisiana (AP) -- Three people convicted of hauling away liquor, wine and beer from a grocery store after Hurricane Katrina were sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.

The judge said he wanted to send a message that looting would not be tolerated when he gave the maximum sentence to Coralnelle Little, 36, Rhonda McGowen, 42, and Paul C. Pearson, 36, all of Kenner.

A jury convicted the trio May 2 on a portion of the state's looting law that took effect two weeks before the Aug. 29 storm. The amended law set a three-year minimum sentence, and a maximum of 15 years in prison, for looting during a declared state of emergency.

We have always taken looting seriously in Louisiana. Going back thru history, the police had orders to shoot to kill anyone caught looting. Of course the ACLU said it was racist and against people's civil rights so now THE POLICE can't shoot them.

We do however have a "shoot the burglar" law so if the owner is around they can kill the looter without fear of prosecution. -- Which actually encourages people to ride out the storms in town but that is another issue.

We also have a "three strikes" law. So people caught looting will face a minimum of 3 years and potential life in prison with no parole.

It might have looked like it on T.V. for 24 hours... but this ain't south central L.A.

Comments (15)

FWIW- I'm only 99% sure loo... (Below threshold)

FWIW- I'm only 99% sure looting can be considered the 3rd strike. I called a lawyer friend and he said he thought so too. If there is a LA lawyer who knows different, lemme know. But either way, 15 years is nothing to sneeze at.

I do remember seeing pictur... (Below threshold)
G Braden:

I do remember seeing pictures (and video) of police officers who were also looting. I would think that THEY would be the ones whom need to be sentenced for maximum amount of time and used to set as an example!

Kudos to Paul. Long after ... (Below threshold)

Kudos to Paul. Long after the traditional media has lost interest in a story and moved on we have the blogs that actually do the indepth reporting and give us, the readers, the complete story. What use is it to see images of looters acting in the absence of civilization without the fulfilling knowledge that civilization has returned to claim it's crown?

Traditional media constantly accuses blogs of being the chicken little of news reporting but in fact it is the traditional media that engages in drive by reporting. The blogs, like Paul in New Orleans, can keep the light trained on a subject long after the movie star anchors with their expensive overheads have had to re-aim the lights on the next "big story."

What the hell sort of a nam... (Below threshold)

What the hell sort of a name is "Coralnelle"?

15 years for looting - unde... (Below threshold)

15 years for looting - understand punishment but this is prime example of why are prisons are overflowing. put them away for a year or two and let taxpayers pay to keep bad criminals away for 15 or longer. Fuck. Its like putting a guy away for 3 years who had some marijuana on him.

Paul,a followup on G Braden... (Below threshold)

Paul,a followup on G Bradens comment. Do you have any info on the police officers accused of looting?

Well seriously, connect the... (Below threshold)

Well seriously, connect the dots. Overloaded prisions, low crime.

Convicts cost $30,000 a year but save about $210,000 in crime costs (insurance statistics).

Seriously, duhhhhhhhh...

>Paul,a followup on G Brade... (Below threshold)

>Paul,a followup on G Bradens comment. Do you have any info on the police officers accused of looting?

They ended up having an investigation and NOT charging the officers in question with looting...

Now before you blow a gasket (as I did) you have to know the whole story...

The 2 female officers were given permission (by their commanding officer) to go into the building and get whatever they needed to do their job.

They were NOT caught on video taking anything that could not be used for their duty. (ie no DVD's or TV's)

(I find this shakey but...) The famous footage catches them in the shoe aisle looking at dry shoes... (OK benifit of doubt time)

THEY WERE reprimanded for not doing more to stop the looting in the store but not for looting themselves.


I dunno.


At first glance it looks like a slam dunk that they were guilty... After further review the tie might go to the runner. (had to make a 3rd sports metaphor)

I'm not in love with the findings but on the other hand I have trouble disputing them.

I guess if we value the presumption of innocence -and we do- it certainly must be applied to police officers in a horrible situation.

I just wish it was more of an open and shut case.

Waldo: N... (Below threshold)


NOPD Clears Cops in Looting Probe

Four New Orleans police officers have been cleared of looting allegations stemming from a news videotape that shows them taking items from the Uptown Wal-Mart two days after Hurricane Katrina, but the officers were suspended for 10 days for failing to stop civilians from cleaning out the ransacked store, the New Orleans Police Department said Friday.

The video, shot by an MSNBC crew inside Wal-Mart, shows the officers filling a shopping cart with shoes, clothes and other items. In the background, citizens can be seen calmly looting everything from sweaters to bicycles. When a reporter asks the officers what they're doing, one of them responds, "Looking for looters." She then hastily turns her back to the camera.

Despite an avalanche of public outrage over the officers' actions, an internal investigation recently cleared them of looting allegations, said Assistant Chief Marlon Defillo, commander of the Public Integrity Bureau. He said the officers had permission from their superiors to take necessities for themselves and other officers. The New Orleans Police Department later informed Wal-Mart management, after the store had been secured, that its officers had taken some needed items, he said.

The four officers--Olivia Fontenot, Vera Polite, Debra Prosper and Kenyatta Phillips--were suspended for 10 days without pay for "neglect of duty" because "people can be observed illegally inside the store with property in their possession and you took no police action to prevent or stop the looting," according to their disciplinary letters. The officers are all seasoned veterans except for Phillips, a first-year rookie.

On top of her 10-day suspension, Fontenot received an additional three-day penalty for her "discourteous" response to MSNBC correspondent Fred Savidge, her disciplinary letter states.

Through a spokesperson, Superintendent Warren Riley said Friday: "It was determined that all four officers had received permission from their commanders to get clothing for fellow officers who were soaking wet. They did not steal anything."

Walmart --another post I need to make-- was incedible after Katrina. They called the NOPD and told them to take anything and everything they thought they could use.

Then to top it off Walmart send dozens of 18-wheelers with food, water and supplies to the city in hours after the storm.

That an NOPD officer was taking supplies from a Walmart was not unexpected... The flip reply was what it was.

In rereading this months after the storm (and having learned more of what Walmart did in the interm) I'm even more willing to side with the officers.

What the hell sort of a ... (Below threshold)

What the hell sort of a name is "Coralnelle"?

Well, I have heard the name Ranelle before, so my guess is they put the "Co" in front to signify that the kid will turn out to be a future COnvict.

Alas, he prophecy was correct!

Paul,Thanks for th... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:


Thanks for the updated info on the NOPD Cops Looting Probe.

If nothing else, Wal-Mart's actions in the
immediate aftermath of Katrina demonstrate what can be done in the way of disaster relive with the right people calling the shots. Maybe FEMA should just contract with Wal-Mart to do more of that kind of relief. Given the amount of money FEMA has wasted, they could hardly go wrong to just let Wal-Mart do what it can do for the people and send the bill to FEMA. I heard Home Depot has a similar track record of getting building supplies into devastated areas long before FEAM shows up.

That's disaster relie... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

That's disaster relief not relive.

but i wonder, did they get ... (Below threshold)

but i wonder, did they get beer looter guy?

Mac,While I think ... (Below threshold)


While I think FEMA writing a big check to Walmart and another to fed-ex and getting the hell out the way is a good idea, if you know "the real story" FEMA didn't waste much money in the DAYS after the storm.

The media -yet another post- is skewing the story greatly. I can't quote the exact numbers without google but I'll be close... Medicare and social security -both of which are long established and have multiple layers of safeguards- have a fraud rate of about 10%. FEMA got scammed -on a system they built in real time- by only about 14%. -- In fed terms pretty impressive. ESPECIALLY when you consider how quickly they distributed how much money AND that they put systems in place that have recovered some of the money and are arresting people. It's not near as bad as the media makes it... (If you use your brain and don't knee jerk)

FEMA HAS however, pissed away billions in other places. And our friends in the Corps joined right in. If I ever post about the roofing scandal your head would spin.

As someone who has spent a minute or two of my free time watching this, FEMA is sorta getting blamed for what they did right and given a pass on what they did wrong.

I fault them more for what happened MONTHS after the storm than days. The oppisite of the story the media tells. Surprise, surprise.

Daniel I dunno, I'll keep m... (Below threshold)

Daniel I dunno, I'll keep my ears open.... but I think his 15 minutes are up.






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