TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: MALIK RAHIM and the aftermath of Katrina

The 2005 destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina revealed a very important fact about the United States--the incapacity or unwillingness of its government to deal with major catastrophes so long as they threatened only the poor, and especially impoverished African Americans.

Disaster management was insufficient or non-existent; devastation disproportionately affected the poor; no provisions were made to evacuate people without vehicles or to protect those who were too sick or infirm to leave. The death toll surged past a thousand, with tens of thousands turned into the internally displaced in the richest country on the planet.

Many were warehoused in the barbaric conditions of a Texan sports arena. Amid millions of litres of water, some died of dehydration. And with so many National Guard troops overseas enforcing the US occupation of Iraq, the US government chose to deploy, among others, mercenaries in the streets of New Orleans, mercenaries whose corporate name, ironically enough, is Black Water.

Many Americans learned for the first time that they could not rely on their various levels of their government. Others had known that for decades. One of those men was Malik Rahim, a former member of the Black Panther Party, a recent Green Party candidate for New Orleans city council and a long time public housing activist. He’s a co-founder of the COMMON GROUND collective, an agency born from the post-Katrina devastation with the motto "SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY."

Since its inception, the group has dispensed food, water, clothing and other basic necessities to the poorest people of New Orleans. Malik Rahim spoke about the work and vision of Common Ground on October 6 at the First Churches, Northampton, Massachusetts. His speech was recorded by Active Ingredients Media.

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