PHRF Condemns Recovery Czar Edward Blakely and Mayor Nagin

People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and
Oversight Coalition (PHRF)

1418 North Claiborne Avenue, Suite 2
New Orleans, LA 70116
Telephone: 504 301 0215

Media Advisory
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For More Information Contact:
April 11, 2007 Kali Akuno, PHRF 504.301.0215
Monifa Bandele, Change the Game 917.407.3018

PHRF Condemns Recovery Czar Edward Blakely and Mayor Nagin; Demands Blakely be fired immediately.

The People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) demands that Mayor Ray Nagin and the City Council fire Edward Blakely for his demeaning statements and plans denying the basic rights and dignity of the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. “Blakely’s statements in the New York Times yesterday, were totally inexcusable”, say’s Kali Akuno, PHRF Executive Director. “It is clear that he was brought here merely to finish the ethnic cleansing of New Orleans by making no provision in his plans for the Black working class majority that was and is the heart of New Orleans”.

PHRF strongly condemns Blakely’s gentrification and displacement schemes for the redevelopment of New Orleans that only favor the developers and corporate profiteers. We further condemn Mayor Ray Nagin and the City Council for tolerating and approving his schemes. The privatization of the very office and position of Edward Blakely must also be condemned. Mayor Nagin should not have followed the footsteps of Governor Blanco and set up a private entity to manage and contract out public funds. These extralegal institutions and initiatives are wholly undemocratic and nepotistic.

Moreover Blakely slanders those of us who advocate the right to return for all those who want to return. Blakely claims we are “using people” for political ends. To the contrary it is the capitalist developers that Blakely represents who are using the people, by refusing to provide affordable housing; by refusing to open up the public housing projects and by refusing to grant any direct aid to the more than 50% of the New Orleans population that were renters. These actions are in place to facilitate a grand land theft from Black working class homeowners and to change New Orleans into a white majority city.

The Right of Return is a fundamental human right enshrined in several international treaties that the United States Government is a party to. The United States Agency of International Development (USAID) articulates the clearest statement and support of this human right by the Federal Government in its “Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons Policy”. Produced in October 2004 the report states, “USAID’s interest in internal displacement is driven by humanitarian and development concerns as well as political and security considerations” (Summary, Page V). Further it states, “USAID advocates that IDP’s should be granted the full security and protection provided for under applicable norms of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and national law” (Summary Page VI). This policy statement can be located online at (search Internally Displaced Persons Policy).

Edward Blakely, Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans City Council, and all the branches of Government interfacing with Katrina and Rita related IDP’s must be held accountable to the standards outlined in the Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons Policy and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. To hold the US government accountable to these and many other human rights laws and policies, PHRF and a broad range of Gulf Coast community, civil, and human rights organizations will conduct an International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita August 29th – September 2nd, 2007.

In the interests of accountability and restorative justice, we demand that Blakely be fired immediately for his blatant disregard for the human rights of the displaced.