Crime and Hurricane Katrina

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Christina Thomas ’13
February 10, 2012
Crime during Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina caused many forms of distress, displacement and disruption to the community of New Orleans and the citizens most certainly were forced to act in drastic ways for survival. The response by the people has been considered forms of criminal activity and in all senses of legal activity has been defined as crime. Acts of looting and violence were reported by many reporters of various news media. Crimes were not only committed by everyday citizens of New Orleans, but volunteer workers as well and even, what people saw as the most shocking display of violence and betrayal of trust, by the Law Enforcement Officials as well. What is also interesting is how this destructive event altered the residents’ perception of what is crime and what can be considered criminal. What was once considered to be a betrayal of trust towards another member of the community had been transformed into an activity that was now a means of survival. Some of the acts varied from a “need” to steal because they “had to” (i.e., stealing from Bath and Body works for soap, supermarkets for food, water, clothes, etc.) and then increasing to other side of the spectrum to murder of strangers, friends, and even family. Hurricane Katrina caused a massive social disruption to the people of New Orleans and this catastrophic event would eventually lead to their breakdown of societal rules and values. And it is this breakdown that would not be lost to the eyes of the news media and would be broadcast everywhere, all across the world (of Katrina, apocalypse 2005).

The New York Times gave many accounts of the violence, destructive and slide into anarchy that was happening in New Orleans. One article, published September 29th, 2005, After Katrina, crimes of the imagination, detailed the mass amount of looting and violent crimes in the area. The article details the fears and horrors of becoming a broken society and living...
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