Saturday, December 8, 2007

FEMA rewrote the Constitution for Trailer Parks!!

FEMA also had a rule that prohibits journalists from having unsupervised interviews with Hurricane Katrina victims who have been relocated to FEMA trailer parks. “If a residentinvites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by aFEMA representative who sits in on the interview,” FEMAspokesperson Rachel Rodi said “That’s just a policy.”. The Advocate report, by reporter Sandy Davis, describes two separate attempts to talk to people displaced by Katrina that were haltedby the intervention of a FEMA security guard. In the first incident, in a Morgan City, Louisiana camp, an interview wasinterrupted by a guard who claimed that residents of the campare “not allowed” to talk to the media. “You are not allowed to be here,” the guard is quoted as telling the reporter. “Get outright now.” The guard reportedly called police to force thejournalist to leave the camp, and even prevented the reporterfrom giving the interview subject a business card. “You will not give her a business card,” the guard said. “She’s not allowed to have that.”. Later, at another FEMA camp in PlaqueminesParish, Louisiana, the reporter attempted to talk to camp resident Pansy Ardeneaux through a chain link fence when the sameguard halted the interview. “You are not allowed to talk to these people,” the guard told Ardeneaux. “Return to your trailer now.”The reporter said she and an accompanying photographer were“ordered...not to talk to anyone or take pictures.. Earlier, an interview with displaced Katrina victims by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (4/24/06) was halted by FEMA securityguards. Tape-recording the accounts of residents of theFEMA-run Renaissance Village camp outside Baton Rouge,Louisiana, Goodman was approached by FEMA-hired securityguards from Corporate Security Solutions who told her to “turnit off.” When Goodman explained that the resident had asked tobe interviewed, she was told, “He can't. That’s not his privilege.”. Restrictions on the right of citizens to speak freely to the press without government supervision are a clear violation ofthe 1st Amendment. “They cannot deny media access,” GreggLeslie, the legal defense director of the Reporters Committee forFreedom of the Press, told the Advocate, saying that FEMA’srestrictions were “clearly unconstitutional … and definitely not legal.” Referring to the requirement that interview subjects havea FEMA escort, Leslie said, “That’s a standard for a prison, nota relief park and a temporary shelter.”. Timothy Matte, the mayorof Morgan City, expressed surprise that FEMA was enforcing limits on the free speech of disaster victims. “You would think the people would have the same freedom there as everyone elsehas,” he said. When Michael Cosbar, who oversees most of the agency's trailer communities in the state, learned that Christiangroups were regularly leading Bible study classes and holding Sunday school and other religious services he announced onFebruary 16 that FEMA would no longer allow them. MichaelCosbar, said the church issue is just the latest trailer-parkheadache that his agency did not anticipate. That was just onemore of our constitutional rights FEMA wanted us to give up.This rule was over turned later. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

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