An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog

An update about the body

Posted in algiers,fema,Katrina,medical,neworleans,photos,redcross by jacob on September 12, 2005

A few people have emailed about this body.

One of the often suggested points was to simply bury the body myself. I had given this some thought and when I woke up this morning I was motivated to bury it myself. The first thing I did when I woke up was ask Malik what he thought of the idea.

He said something along the lines of: “The police said they would arrest me, I would have buried it already otherwise.”

Food for thought.


6 Responses to 'An update about the body'

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  1. zenji said,

    Cool! You read this. 🙂 I figured you guys would be WAY too busy to get back at all, let alone this quickly.

    Please note, I am *NOT* against your intentions or claiming you SHOULD have buried that poor persons remains. I actually don’t think it’s a very smart idea, unless you really know what you’re doing. I don’t want to see either of you fall ill or get injured and impede your efforts in other areas.

    You have to realize that part of the official response is going to be controlling what is coming INTO the region. The redcross supply thing with the guns? That sounds fubar to me. But they might be concerned about Gonzo Medical Assistance and Gonzo Cleanup and Decontamination. Gonzo journalism is about freedom, free information, and knowledge! Going in there and trying to handle the medical crisis without proper training or knowledge is downright foolish.

    Yes, many people have great intentions; you and Joel define those sorts of intentions. Not everyone should be allowed to follow through, though. Especially when they can get themselves into a situation where they need rescuing themselves, and can create a greater burden to the ongoing rescue efforts. You two seem to have thought out a lot, and appear to be taking a very cautious approach, which is commendable.

    But the point is, that cop probably doesn’t know much about removing/disposing of the corpse either. 7 years on the street, and I was never trained in remains removal (yes, I was ‘the man’ for awhile. I’m a real person again, or at least I try to resemble one.) I was told to call the coroner and secure the scene. It’s probably all he knows how to do, and it’s all he probably CAN do with permission…so he’s gonna do it his best. It sucks, but its human nature…we revert back to instinct and TRAINING. His training tells him to keep the onlookers and unnecessary people out of harms way and out of his hair. It’s not right, but it is what it is.

    As for why the cops told Malik to leave it alone… *shrug* Several reasons, I would guess. #1, his own well being. #2, they want to be able to find it later when proper recovery efforts are actually underway. #3, if all these teams and rescuers know about it, if he goes and buries it/moves it, they will not know where it went, necessarily, and it’s one more missing corpse plus one more previously undocumented corpse to deal with. Confusion. The small details are too much to be bothered with when lives are still at stake.

    Doing the right thing isn’t always ‘doing the right thing’. I know, I sound preachy and full of crap. To hell with anyone else reading this though, Jacob. I admire the hell out of what you two are doing, and I hope you can see the perspective I’m trying to lend you, being a former cop. I can’t know everything you’ve experience, so I probably am over reacting to your statements as well. But please keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of these folks are doing their best to help. Where is that cop sleeping? Where is his family? Does he KNOW they are safe, or is he worried about them too? How many hours straight is he working between meals and rest? He could very much be that arrogant prick he appears to be (some copy are, sad to say)…but there could be much more beneath the surface, and maybe he isn’t dealing with everything in the best manner.

    Steer clear of those Blackwater guys. Some of the other commentors are probably closer to truth…especially in the nicer districts in town. They are being paid, and paid well by those with the means, to protect property. They haven’t sworn any oaths about human life, the constitution, or society. They’ve simply signed up for a paycheck. They may look similar to police, national guard, and search and rescue, but their motiviations will be very different.

    Best of luck!

  2. Claire said,

    If you bury this person the family will never know what happened to them. Let the authorities take care of it and then at least the family will have a chance to find out what happened to their loved one if possible.

  3. scott said,

    You would easily get arrested for burying the body yourself and police find out. Perhaps this body is the family member of someone…wouldn’t you want to know what happened to them?

  4. Effie said,

    Handling bodies is tricky; disturbing remains could foul up later attempts at determining cause of death, not to mention the issues of identification raised by previous comments. I’m with the above folks on this. You did the proper and ethical thing.

  5. insect said,

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  6. phaedra said,


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