Daily Kos: Class Revolt Brewing in Mississippi

Class Revolt Brewing in Mississippi
by mitch2k2 [Subscribe]
Wed Aug 31st, 2005 at 23:04:35 CDT

Cross-posted at The Thorn Papers

Disturbing, if inevitable, report from Reuters out of Biloxi. Rightfully angry for being left behind--as were the poor of New Orleans--to fend for themselves against the beast Katrina turned out to be, the poorest of one of the poorest states are lashing out. The potential for civil unrest right now is at an alarming high.

In the devastated streets and atop the rubble piles where their homes stood before Katrina blew through, a bitter refrain is increasingly heard. Poor and low-income residents complain that they have borne the brunt of the hurricane's wrath.

The poor were left to die. There was no attempt to evacuate those who could not afford to do so on their own.

"Many people didn't have the financial means to get out," said Alan LeBreton, 41, an apartment superintendent who lived on Biloxi's seaside road, now in ruins. "That's a crime and people are angry about it."

Many of the town's well-off heeded authorities' warnings to flee north, joining thousands of others who traveled from the Gulf Coast into northern Mississippi and Alabama, Georgia and other nearby states.

This is true. My own town is overflowing with well-heeled refugees, those who could (at least initially) afford to leave the coast. Even among these, I'd suppose, the potential for financial disaster is not very many weeks away, living as they are in hotels and restaurants with next steps quite unknown. As with most things in America, many more think they can afford this than actually can.

The Reuters report continues:

Hotels along the interstates and other main roads were packed with these temporary refugees. Gas stations and convenience stores -- at least those that were open -- sold out of water, ice and other supplies within hours.

But others could not afford to join them, either because they didn't own a car or couldn't raise funds for even the cheapest motel.

"No way we could do that," said Willie Rhetta, a bus driver, who remained in his home to await Katrina.

Resentment at being left behind in the path of one of the fiercest hurricanes on record may have contributed to some of the looting that occurred in Biloxi and other coastal communities.

A number of private residences, including some in upscale neighborhoods, were targeted, residents said.

Class divisions, which often fall along racial lines in this once-segregated southern state, are not new to Mississippi. It traditionally is one of the poorest states in the United States.

Yes. I've gone on and on (repeatedly and often) to whomever would listen (for example) about the absolutely deplorable third-world conditions that afflict wide swaths of Mississippi, while at the same time mini-mansion clusters spring up continuously, spreading like kudzu. Third-world conditions and substandard infrastructure--before Katrina.

In 2004, Mississippi had the second lowest median household income and the highest percentage of people -- 21.6 percent -- living in poverty, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau

Now, these are the conditions that the lower and middle classes of the state will experience together. And for quite some time. Tempers can run hot around these parts, to which modern American history can well attest.

This is a very precarious moment. The next few days, weeks, and months should be interesting to say the least. Lord help all these people, poor and wealthy and everyone in the middle.

Daily Kos: Class Revolt Brewing in Mississippi


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