Thursday, January 14th, 2010

The "Looting" in Haiti

WHY IS THIS MAN LOOTING THIS BABY?Tom Scocca: Did we learn nothing from Katrina?
Tom Scocca: "The national police had all but vanished, and officials reported looting at a collapsed grocery store."
Tom Scocca: "Looting"?
Choire Sicha: UGH.
Choire Sicha: WHO DID THAT?
Tom Scocca: The New York Times.
Choire Sicha: UGH. And. EVERYONE DID. Good job, Meredith Vieira!
Tom Scocca: "Thieves also descended on a half-collapsed supermarket in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince, carrying out electronics and bags of rice. Others siphoned gasoline from a wrecked tanker."
Tom Scocca: Electronics, sure. And, you know, nice priorities, guys, without there even being any electricity anymore.
Tom Scocca: But I'm sorry, if an earthquake hits Silver Spring, I am more than ready to go scavenge a bag of rice from the half-collapsed Giant.
Tom Scocca: Assuming I'm not a smear of blood-butter inside this pancaked concrete apartment tower.
Tom Scocca: Matt Marek, Haiti country representative of the American Red Cross, said: "There has been widespread looting of collapsed buildings since the earthquake hit. There is no other way to get provisions. Even if you have money, those resources are going to be exhausted in a few days."
Tom Scocca: If there's no other way to get provisions, it's not looting.
Tom Scocca: This was also how it went with Katrina, right? Reports of rampant, scary violence. To go with the "looting."
Choire Sicha: Black people running in the night!
Tom Scocca: I certainly hope they get law and order established there soon, so store owners can reopen their half-collapsed supermarkets without fear of thieves.

72 Comments / Post A Comment

jolie (#16)


You could always put the money in an envelope with a nice note, and tape it to an uncollapsed wall, I guess.

La Cieca (#1,110)

I like Choire's pizza recipe better.

slinkimalinki (#182)

and then there's the reports that the prison collapsed and the prisoners are loose. because OMG escaped prisoners will make such a difference.

Wait are you saying it won't make a difference because *they're all criminals* who sold their soul to the devil?

slinkimalinki (#182)


Matt (#26)

Missing #WHITE WOMAN tag.

Happily, #UGH is used all the time!

brent_cox (#40)

Any ID on the perps?

slinkimalinki (#182)

black and skinny.

zidaane (#373)

Favors either the left or right leg and may or may not be wearing a head bandage and/or carrying a child.

slinkimalinki (#182)

a bit dusty and covered in red stuff.

Abe Sauer (#148)

May I add the MSM is complaining re: the PauP airport being closed to the landing of their jets bloated with Anderson Coopers, because, you know, THEY ARE PRIORITIZING SUPPLY PLANES.

Al Roker is on the runway in Haiti. "Reporting." AL ROKER! Supply planes are circling because the runway there is jammed and Al motherfucking Roker is standing there… I think I finally know why people murder other people now.

kneetoe (#1,881)

But how IS the weather?

garge (#736)

Umm, Abe, if Al Roker is unable to give a 30 second backwash lower 48 forecast with a backdrop of crumpled buildings and scattered limbs, the terrorists have won.

It's a hardship posting because now he's hungry.

garge (#736)

I thought, when he said That's what's going around in the US, here's what's .., it was very self-aware.

He has to say the "That's what's going on around the country, here's what's happening in your neck of the woods" line so the weatherpeople at the affiliates wake up. Literally, the entire system would break down if he didn't say that line.

Abe Sauer and I are finally on the same side of outrage. This is a moment. (Anyway STRONGLY AGREE.)

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Let's throw Rush Limbaugh on a Cessna and send him down there, giftwrapped. They can slice him into petit-lardons (hopefully with a machete in a scene reminiscent of "Live and Let Die",) barbeque him and serve it on a bed of rice. Food shortage solved!

Bittersweet (#765)

Pat Robertson looks a little plumper than previously, too, and might give good shish kebob…

zidaane (#373)


HiredGoons (#603)

Only white people do that. This is looting.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Things White People Do: Avail oneself of any necessary implements of survival.

Things Dark People Do: Rape and Pillage for fun times and personal enrichment.

Mindpowered (#948)

Out of the bags of fellow passengers

The son of actress Cybill Shepherd was charged yesterday with looting fellow passengers' carry-on bags during a flight from San Francisco.

Baroness (#273)

"Pulling one's self up by the bootstraps! Not waiting for sum damn gubmint to save you!"

Abe Sauer (#148)

Also, there IS "looting" there but it is the looting of medical supply trucks trying to make it through Port to clinics and makeshift ORs. Hence, the need for a helicopter.

Mindpowered (#948)

So only looting. Not looting looting.

hman (#53)

So not optimistic about their future.

The Fox News anchor, John Gibson, helped set the scene: "All kinds of reports of looting, fires and violence. Thugs shooting at rescue crews. Thousands of police and National Guard troops are on the scene trying to get the situation under control. Thousands more on the way. So heads up, looters." A reporter, David Lee Miller, responded: "Hi, John. As you so rightly point out, there are so many murders taking place. There are rapes, other violent crimes taking place in New Orleans." After the interview, Mr. Gibson did acknowledge that "we have yet to confirm a lot of that."

Later that night on MSNBC, Tucker Carlson grabbed the flaming baton and ran with it. "People are being raped," he said in a conversation with the Rev. Al Sharpton. "People are being murdered. People are being shot. Police officers being shot."

2005, people.

Matt (#26)

The 2k10s! They're just like the 00s.

Baroness (#273)

PLZ YR NFURIATIN ME AGIN about that. But yeah, you're awfully right. It was 99% lies, but that really was the tenor of reporting. "SuperDome: Wal-Mart of RAPE!".

Now's a great time to re-read Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine", since the Heritage Foundation has helpfully piped up with prayerful public hopes that Haiti might be a clean slate to them. Subtextual amidst their condolences, but it's there already.

kneetoe (#1,881)

You're not denying that there were reports, are you?!? All kinds of reports!

Was it irresponsible to speculate? It was irresponsible not to!

the Loud Coast (#1,362)

My mom was on the board of a childrens hospital in an american city, and after Katrina they began looking pretty seriously at their disaster-preparedness sitch. They had a consultant who was part of the response in New Orleans and part of his advice was that one of the most important things a hospital needs in an emergency is some private mercenaries that they can call to protect them FROM MEMBERS OF THE POLICE FORCE who in New Orleans, began looting pretty much immediately after realizing that the national guard response was late and/or poorly organised.

My father, to compare, is currently involved with running a hospital in Haiti, and one of his impressions from the city of Port Au Prince (pre-earthquake) was that there was an (understandably) pervasive anxiety about survival and that a lot of social dysfunction stemmed from that.

Like in N.O. it's not just about the availability of food, but also about people's sense of security and confidence in their environment.

Abe Sauer (#148)

You're right about the pre-quake situation. And while it's ok to compare this to the media's immediate response to NO. There are so, so many differences. UNLIKE N.O., there is no way to "get out" of the disaster zone. W/r/t this, it will be interesting to see how the Dominican Republic reacts.

the Loud Coast (#1,362)

Thats a good point about the lack of an evacuation option. Developing a large central city in a small nation is something of a one-way proposition and when a massive decline of industry occurs, like happened in the last 50 years in Haiti, there is no way to turn that city back into the agrarian environment it was before, and what you are left with is a place with a lot of people and a lot of vulnerability to disasters. It is frightening to think about how many other places in the world are in simmilar danger.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Read esp. the chapter in "Collapse" on haiti/domincan republic.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Please correct me TheWalton but I understand that Haiti has numerous poorly developed but good (deep) harbors in small coastal towns. The bigger ships that trade from Florida to PauP need the now-missing infrastructure there to discharge boxes; smaller ships can supply the outlying areas of Haiti quicker, maybe. Right or wrong?

southernbitch (#2,141)

let me just say that there really wasn't "a way out" of new orleans if you were in certain neighborhoods. my current neighborhood, for instance, had 8 feet of water in it. if i had been there, i would've had to swim many, many blocks to get to dry land. also the one bridge that was really accessible to people living downtown was blocked by gun wielding deputies from jefferson parish, who shot people. so. no on that statement. just look up a map of how it was flooded and imagine yourself smack in the middle without a boat, and think about how you would've figured out how to leave.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Well, what I meant was a way out in the larger sense. As in, an ability (if not easy) to try and go and start over somewhere else. That does not exist at all in haiti.

the Loud Coast (#1,362)

@Tulletilsynet: I wish I could answer that but I really know nothing about Haiti's harbor situation. I looked it up but found no solid research on that topic.

Pulp (#1,885)

Where's that .GIF of the adorable child saying "That's racist?" when you need it?

Matt (#26)

That works too.
You're too fast, Matt! TOO FAST!

Matt (#26)

Alternately, you could just go to Wonkette on any given day/hour.

Fast is good!

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I'm having a hard time working up the indignation about calling looting "looting." I've hammered on both knees till they're blue but they just won't jerk for this particular verbal taboo.

TV: "Desperate disaster victims forced to loot stores to survive."
The Awl: [Screaming at TV:]"How can you say that?"
TV: [Pictures of looting.]
The Awl: "Racist!"

Tom Scocca (#48)

Not according to my dictionary.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Then I guess it's just a matter of improving my vocabulary, so thanks for that.

HiredGoons (#603)

Taking shit from stores during a blackout = looting.

Taking shit from a store during a natural disaster = not looting.

How's that?

Tullet-person, the more accurate word to use is SCAVENGING. These people are scavenging in order to survive.

The verb "loot" connotes "theft."

"Scavenging" acknowledges that concepts such as theft don't apply in a survival situation.

Ok, you got it now?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Yes, that's a clear distinction I think I can master. Looting implies theft; where no theft is even logically possible, must be something else going on … Okay, got it!

So, when reporting on the activities of "small bands of young men and boys with machetes" in Port-au-Prince, the AP should be careful to use some non-judgmental verb.

Or maybe it would be best simply to omit any reference to the machetes.

Abe Sauer (#148)

For fuck sake. Brian Williams, who I generally like, is on RIGHT NOW on a "sat phone" but with perfect video, like some kind of Daily Show spoof. He's in a "wooded area." What the hell is the point of that?

I want to know how the FAA had to close the runway today to aid planes and yet EVERY SINGLE MEDIA ORGANIZATION already has all its marquee people (and the crews that certainly go along) already standing on the runway? Including the aforementioned Al Roker and Anne Curry?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

According to Reuters, the runway is closed to planes needing air-traffic control.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

PS Any news on the helicopter request?

Abe Sauer (#148)

There have been a few leads. nothing panned out.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Also: here is the latest from Gressier:
"we waited in line for an hour today at the pump and didn't get any fuel. tomorrow will probably be more of the same. we ran out of materials to treat wounds and fractures and such, so we closed operations today and are just trying to regroup. our house is livable, but we aren't sleeping in it yet. no one is sleeping inside yet, because of the aftershocks. some of the aftershocks (like one of them last night) are 4.0, so they feel like real earthquakes and shake the buildings. nora is fine, because she's sleeping in her pack n play with the mosquito net, just like always. she doesn't seem to notice that it's outside. we are sleeping on a mattress and rigged our mosquito net over us, so it's not too bad. pray it doesn't rain…"

Abe Sauer (#148)

That is terrible self-reinforcing situation. They are getting tired/hungry/thirsty/angry/dead and the aide is there but just SITTING on the runways b/c there is no security and they don't want to take it off the tarmac if they cannot protect it but the longer they wait the more tired/hungry/thirsty/angry/dead (especially ANGRY) the haitians will get which will have forces not want to take the aide off the tarmac if they cannot protect it but the longer they wait the more tired/hungry/thirsty/angry/dead (especially ANGRY) the haitians will get which will….

gotham (#1,572)

what are they protecting it from? if its for the victims why aren't they giving it to them?

Abe Sauer (#148)

Well, there IS a significant population of actual "looters" in Haiti. That is to say, criminals. And many are armed (though not as many as in, say, 1999). They were there before this disaster but (as we all learned in N.O.) a combination of power and chaos and a lack of law enforcement leads to this demographic seizing, if only temporarily, a lot of power. Unprotected aide runs the real risk of being highjacked by whatever forces are in power NOT for use as intended (care) but for stockpiling, sale, bartering etc etc. (i.e. As Brian Williams has told us, "money is useless and water is the currency now," which means water is what people will rob other people for EVEN IF THEY DON'T ABSOLUTELY NEED IT, just like money.

Any aide org. that has worked in a chaotic disaster zone knows that just sending a truck of supplies out there naked and unprotected is just asking for trouble (and potentially doing more harm than good by risking the caregivers).

HiredGoons (#603)


Regina Small (#2,468)

I could say something but I think quiet, wracked sobs are the only appropriate response at this point.

mjfrombuffalo (#2,561)

And on this morning's news, it has become "mobs." Because, you know, it's not desperate, starving people who got into the UN warehouse in the middle of P-au-P where the UN had been stockpiling food for emergencies, it had to be "mobs" of people "looting" UN property.

BarrySoetoro (#3,018)

Man, you guys are really helping out the Haitians with all of your…um, posting comments on some website. You have barack's work ethic. Keep up the good work!!!

Abe Sauer (#148)


janine (#248)

Morning report: our boy Pat Kiernan at NY1 is using the term scavenging, so that's a plus.

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