Elderly Black Woman Arrested for Looting

Author: 
Kevin McGill and John Solomon
Date Published: 
September 21, 2005
Associated Press Writers

KENNER, La. - Merlene Maten undoubtedly stands out in the prison where she has been held since Hurricane Katrina. The 73-year-old church deaconess, never before in trouble with the law I now sleeps among hardened criminals. Her bail is a stiff $50,000. Her offense? Police say the grandmother from New Orleans took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli the day after Katrina struck.

Family and eyewitnesses have a different story. They say Maten is an innocent woman who had gone to her car to get some sausage to eat but was wrongly handcuffed by tired, frustrated officers who couldn't catch younger looters at a nearby store.

Not even the deli owner wants her charged. "There were people looting, but s