Lower Ninth Ward residents win right to clean up and open MLK School

Police Back Off From New Orleans School Clean Up

by Kerul Dyer

New Orleans --In an historic act of solidarity, around 85 students and organizers from across the country risked arrest today by entering Martin Luther King Elementary School in the devastated Lower 9th Ward. Outside the school, a crowd of around 300 gathered wearing Tyvek suits and respirators, holding hand painted signs and chanting to oncoming traffic. In an ongoing effort to rebuild New Orleans, residents of the Lower Ninth Ward requested that these supporters clean the school out.

Yvonne Wise, who advises Common Ground as a leader in the Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward Community Council, addressed a crowed press conference before the young people entered the school. "We appreciate the students coming out and supporting our effort to open this school, we want our schools open." Frustrated by lethargic governmental agencies, Wise said that if the government can't get the schools open, residents must take things into their own hands. "If the schools aren't open, the people can't return home," says Wise.

Among the supporters present, a member of the School Board for District 7, Reverend Torin Sanders, spoke, as well, "This is another way to keep the people from returning to the Lower 9th" said Sanders, "everyone has the right to return." Without schools open, families who own homes in this neighborhood cannot return to rebuild their homes or their lives.