The following is a personal interview by Esther Sassaman:
Bloggers are known for strong political opinions and too much openness about their love lives. A growing number have taken the expressive power of the blog into new realms. Many bloggers of all interests and political viewpoints have debunked inaccuracies portrayed by the mainstream media, maintained compendia on rapidly developing stories more quickly than big broadcasters, and established their own live news services in conflict zones. Jacob Applebaum is one of this last category, publishing photojournalism from Iraq, Houston, and New Orleans that has often surpassed the news value, narrative power, and beauty of photography produced by longstanding news service photographers. Appelbaum went to Iraq in April 2005 as a photographer and to visit friends, and visited Houston’s Astrodome after Katrina to help set up a low power FM radio network and wireless service [http://www.prometheusradio.org] for details. He is currently in the poor, black Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, administering a data center at the behest of community organizer and former Black Panther Malik Rahim.
Jacob’s photographs have gained a new audience with the Houston Astrodome series [http://flickr.com/photos/ioerror/sets/905698/], which has become widely distributed. I reached him on Tuesday, the second day of his stay in Algiers. We talked about the situation in Algiers on Tuesday, but also about his personal motivations for coming to activism, and his background.
You can read the rest of the interview off site.
Last night I talked to Chris Pirillo for his weekly show. You can hear the interview on their site.
Naomi Klein came today with Avi Lewis (husband and cameraman) and they interviewed Malik. I was really happy with the questions she asked, she really hit the important ones home. She asked about class, she asked about race, she asked about displacement, she asked about the help they received.
I’m really happy that Malik has the attention he rightfully deserves. The people on the ground here are in a fight to get the help they need and he’s the leader they love. I’ve heard people repeat over and over again that he averted people from dying, he helped them to eat, he helped them to be calm and he brought everyone together. They put aside their differences and became a community over night. He talked about the armed white men in the streets pulling their guns on every black man they could see. He talked about their efforts to calm everything and how it worked.
The man pictured above interrupted the interview to speak at length about how Malik basically saved his life and the life of the community with no outside help. He talked about the hell of the Superdome and how it was suicide to go inside. He actually took over the interview with his emotional response but everyone was listening to him. Cameras were rolling.
I was really happy at how down to earth Naomi was. She spoke to me about the project she’s doing. She does really impressive work and it’s an honor to meet someone who actually does things to change the world! When people tell me that I’m doing something worth while I think about the work that Naomi or Kalle Lasn (Adbusters) are doing, it makes me remember that I have much further to go. People like Naomi are an inspiration.
She’s filming for a documentary and I believe one of the main issues the film will address is the idea of displacement during natural disasters. I asked her what she meant and she discussed a number of subjects. One of them was how such actions could be viewed as colonialism (would this be called neo-colonialism?). Authorities often use disasters as a reason to rebuild “worthwhile” economic developments rather than homes for the displaced poor who once lived there. Perhaps this is the future of the parts of this city.
Really interesting stuff!
This is being written from my Treo650.
I’m happy to report that the previously mentioned body (along with others) in the area has finally been removed. I’d like to think it’s someone that read the blog making calls but it’s more likely it happened because they’ve finally finished with other areas. Who knows?
I know everyone is happy that the body was finally removed.
Update: I was told that the body was removed because of this interview by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
This is being written from my Treo650.
The radio station at the Astrodome finally got the FCC permits needed to broadcast outside of the dome. Thus they have subverted the Astrodome authorities that clearly stood in the way of something useful. I really hope that this is put to good use. I’m not there and I’m a bit out of the loop but i’ve confirmed Houston Indymedia is hard at work on this.
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.
Take a look at my flickr stream for the photos I took today. Leave a comment with a link to the ones you feel deserve the most information.
The date on my camera was screwed up and so today was actually split into two days as far as the camera is concerned.
This man is three blocks from the house where I’m staying. Algiers is a poor area and it’s not getting the help that it needs.
Do you see this body?
This body has been sitting here for over a week. This place isn’t like Iraq. People need to stop saying that New Orleans is like the middle east. In Iraq the body would be cleaned up within hours and the tea boy would have settled me. This man has no shoes on, you can see his socks. He’s dead. He’s rotting in the hot sun.
This is in an American city.He’s already been discovered by DMORT. They marked the trash can and sprayed a big X over his body as if it wasn’t obvious by the smell alone and then they left him.
I want you to let that sink in for a moment.
A man in an non-flooded area of the city is dead. He’s laying on the ground for over a week with no shoes on. Was he killed for his shoes? Was someone really so in need that they took shoes off of a dead man? Was he running and somehow lost his shoes? Why do I care about his shoes anyway?
Why isn’t this man cleaned up? Why isn’t this man given the proper respect of at least a body bag? Why do other areas of the city have no bodies? Why haven’t the houses here been searched? How many bodies are in this area?
Today while walking down the road I found a dog in a bag. A dead dog inside of a plastic bag. It was leaking out into the street and was covered in flies because it had started toliquefy.
This is a health nightmare and it’s a perfect example of classism. This area isn’t worth while to the authorities to spend time cleaning up. When a policeman saw me taking these photos he started talking with Joel. When I came back to the area where the policeman was Joel was talking about taking photos of the body in hopes that someone would be motivated to come remove it. People have been calling and telling the police for over a week!
The police officer was nice. He didn’t bother us about the photos. Then something changed, I didn’t think he was so nice after all. I realized why he didn’t care about the photos. It took me a moment but then he laughed about someone coming to pick it up when we asked. That’s why he didn’t care about the photos, these aren’t his people. These are the people from Algiers and the authorities don’t care.
How can anyone say they have respect for this community when there’s a body laying in plain view?
On September 11th we remember Americans and what America stands for.
This city smells. To attempt to describe the stench would be an almost impossible task, one of untangling the many oders of a crippled city. On the way down the block out of Algiers we found the first of many bodies. It was merely laying on the cement, rotting, the skin was starting its quick turn into human jelly. The wind would blow against us and the stench of death was almost overwhelming. The face of the man was covered by a ragged blanket spread lengthwise down his body. His feet jutted out but his socks weren’t covered with shoes. It makes me wonder if they were stolen and if that related to the mans death. I called someone to decode the DMORT code on a trash dumpster. It looked like it had been there a week. As a matter of dignity and in hopes that someone would come to take the body away. His body was covered in a scrap of sheet metal with a large red X. We notified an emergency team and they said they knew. The body was no secret, obviously it wasn’t a high priority when only one body was needing removal.
It’s really strange hearing so many people being angry with the Red Cross. I thought these guys were the good guys, right? I’m sure they are good people doing good things and that it was simply a mistake.
At the moment I’m sitting in this very same meeting that Joel just wrote about. The people at this meeting are really trying to setup a medical center for the community. We’re right across the river from the city center, across from people who are afraid to leave, who don’t know what’s going on, who don’t know how poisonous the area has become. These people being a part of the community before Hurricane Katrina are the best people on the ground to run the community after Katrina. I think it’s safe to say that these people are the real deal. They want to add vitamins to the hygiene packets, more things to keep people clean and healthy. They’re in need of multi-vitamins and hopefully they’ll get more soon.
I’m not really surprised that the Red Cross has the ability to use FEMA agents as armed guards. FEMA should guard them. FEMA should guard everyone. The Red Cross is doing important work, they’re saving lives. However, I’m really surprised they’re allowed to hold people at gun point and seize their belongings without any questions. This isn’t the Red Cross I grew up reading about is it? Is this possible? A reporter from Air America plans to follow up with the Red Cross about this. Here is another initial report of the seizure.
The people in New Orleans don’t all trust the Red Cross. Many of the people are afraid to leave, afraid to seek help, sick, wounded and these people are probably the best people to help.
More updates to come on this story as it’s pretty much a halfhearted rumor at best. Currently the guy from Air America is on the phone with this person.
This is some sort of Grim Meathook Future alright.