New Orleans Housing Activists Want Your Attention
Activist lashes out at black media, HUD, and city
by Phil Moore
NEW ORLEANS, La. (April 3, 2008) -- As time goes by, I'm learning more about the group Common
Ground Relief the grassroots group started in the aftermath of flooding after hurricane Katrina and
hearing less in the "mainstream media" about the organization and its missions.
Calling for a press conference-demonstration-protest in New Orleans, Sakura Kone did not forget his
mission.With a fiery, dreadlocked appearance and an appearance somewhat like an older Rastafarian
priest, Kone seems unlikely to be a man on one of the most important missions in America today.
Kone, a community activist and coordinator with Common Ground, announced the press conference
immediately after the resignation of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
As he stood outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown New Orleans Tuesday morning, Kone
and a small group of about eleven others - including tenant representatives of the doomed housing
developments in New Orleans - complained that the media is not properly covering their concerns.
The group distributed a list of why they believe the ongoing housing project demolitions are illegal.
While many people around the world may be aware of the housing situation in New Orleans, Kone and
others feel people don't know about some of the obstacles and problems contributing to the housing
In front of the federal courthouse, Kone said the scandal Jackson allegedly is involved in, which
includes a company performing the demolitions of the housing projects in New Orleans, has been
known about for a long time. And, he said, 200,000 people have been begging to come home to New
Orleans while all of this was going on.
"We've had many demonstrations to highlight what's happening, and the media doesn't show up", Kone
told me, "Where is our black media? Where is the 'Louisiana Weekly' or 'The New Orleans
Agenda'?...where are they?", he asked. When reminded that the New Orleans housing issue is not just a
black thing, he snapped back, "Right - but they should be here, too!".
"People call me and Common Ground takes care of their properties while they are still living in other
states", Kone said, "but the city is tearing down houses, too, not just the housing projects". He believes
the city's expropriation process in which many homeowners lose their houses to the wrecking ball is
As he spoke, his group - under the watchful eyes of federal marshals and
other security at the federal building - began moving toward the entrance
doors of the building, apparently for an audience with HUD officials inside.
Security officers and federal marshals, in anticipation, took positions at all
the double doors the small group tried to enter. When the first protesters
tried to enter, they, and anyone following were blocked access to the
building through those doors.
The handful of demonstrators began to quickly disburse, but not before Mike, an outspoken activist,
had his say so to the federal officers and about his rights.Mike said he had an arraignment scheduled
for the next day in an undisclosed jurisdiction due to another demonstration when he was arrested.
He compared his scheduled arraignment to the housing situation in New Orleans since hurricane
Katrina. "I can deal with the uncertainty", he said, "I dealt with it right after Katrina and I can deal with
Housing activists are blocked
from entering federal building
in New Orleans on April 2, 2008
"It's About More Than Just A Hurricane!"