Monday, July 10, 2006

Louisiana and racist cops. And Cheesy Poofs, for that matter.

Tomorrow, there's going to be a news conference about the racist sheriff of St. Tammany Parish. But is it just an overreaction? Is the sheriff racist, or just misunderstood?

Well, first of all, has a lot to be proud of, since nobody was paying any attention to this story until they brought it to the attention of America. We have a video of the sheriff of St Tammany Parish, Jack Strain, making the following statement.
"Now I don’t get into calling people names and all that fact, but if you’re gonna walk the streets of St. Tammany Parish with dreadlocks and 'Chee Wee' hairstyles, then you can expect to be getting a visit from a sheriff’s deputy."
That seems pretty open. Obvious, even. The sheriff is planning to specifically target people based on their haircut. Haircuts mostly worn by black people.

Gee, I don't see how that could possibly be considered racist...

And after John Amato's blog ( - pay attention, people!) brought this to America's short attention span (on the sixth of July), suddenly the story makes the Associated Press (on the eighth of July).

And now, Annie Spell, one of the only white branch presidents of the NAACP has a relatively high-profile press conference on the subject.

To be entirely honest, the sheriff managed to confuse me a little. Having lived in N'Awlins as a kid, I know that "Chee Wees" are a cheese snack, pretty much like Cheetos. Well, OK, Chee Wees are puffed, and Cheetos are... collapsed, I guess. But if I said that they're like Cheez Doodles or Cheese Curls, I wouldn't get nearly the universal understanding, would I?

OK, so I could have gone for the cheap pop-culture reference and said "Cheesy Poofs," but that would have been a cop-out, wouldn't it?

Anyway... (crap, I knew I had a point here... what the hell was it? Oh, right...) Anyway, I have absolutely no idea how the cheesy snack food became a slang term for a hairstyle, but there it is.

So Annie Spell will be holding a press conference in Covington, Louisiana, in front of the sarcastically-named "St Tammany Parish Justice Center." If you happen to be in the neighborhood, go there.

But this isn't the first time that we've had problems with law enforcement in Louisiana and their racist attitudes toward Katrina survivors. At this stage, very few people remember a little, almost ignored story from the days of Hurricane Katrina. But while the right wing was trying to blame New Orleans natives for not evacuating (despite the fact that 26% of New Orleans residents didn't own cars - yeah, I know, it's shocking in the dawn of the 21st Century, but it's true), nobody remembers that people who tried to evacuate on foot were stopped, threatened with guns, and forced to walk back into the flooded city.

If you have any questions on this incident, direct them to Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna Police Department. Perhaps he has an explanation for this unchristian behavior on the part of his officers.

Hey, I'm just being fair and balanced here. We report, you decide.

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