(To read the complete statement)

What we have seen these last weeks in New Orleans could happen in any of our cities. For it is always predominantly the poor, African Americans, elderly, and disabled who are left behind, left out, shut out, gentrified out, and cut out of budgets. Budgets are consistently passed for the comfort and profit of the rich, instead of providing for the 37 million people who live in poverty. At the core of this national tragedy are roots that have been growing throughout American cities for far too many life times.

We are outraged that Katrina's devastation was the direct result of malfunction, malfeasance, and gutting of social programs by the this and previous administrations. Prior preparations should have been made to evacuate people, to stockpile water, food, and other necessities, and to provide safe shelter for those who could not be immediately evacuated. There was no plan. In what ways do these conditions exist in our own cities? How many lessons of blatant racism and classism will take place before we act?

We call for resignation of Bush and his cabinet, an apology to the people, and prosecution of all guilty parties responsible for this horrendous disregard of human life. (more)  Gray Panthers seeks to work with others to form a coalition demanding:

(1) A massive government-funded program for jobs at union wages, environmental clean-up, and reconstruction of housing, schools, hospitals, and other facilities for the entire Gulf Region. Funding from reversal of the tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations; raising the estate tax; an end of funds for war and occupation and an excess war profits tax on Halliburton and Bechtel (more);

(2) Provide food, water, clothing, medical supplies, emergency relief funds, and other necessities for everyone uprooted from their homes (more);

(3) An immediate halt to reconstruction plans in New Orleans neighborhoods and other Gulf Cities that will further gentrify them, alter their class or racial balance, or further move their economies from stable productive jobs toward marginal service or entertainment jobs. Immediate and full disclosure of all reconstruction plans;

(4) Dismiss any looting charges and erase the debts incurred by needy people forced to pay for emergency expenses. Repeal the Bankruptcy Law;

(5) Complete toxic clean-up and restoration of the wetlands.