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Update: New Orleans Police 'Looking Into' Katrina Vigilantism

New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren J. Riley on Wednesday announced that he is investigating alleged crimes reported in a story co-published last week by The Nation and ProPublica. The story, “Katrina’s Hidden Race War,” shows how white residents in one New Orleans neighborhood attacked African American men in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with impunity.

In a press release sent to the media and local government officials, Riley said, “he is currently looking into the allegations, and asked if anyone has substantial information relative to any incidents of this type call to the New Orleans Police Department Bureau of Investigations.”

In our article, two African American shooting victims – Marcel Alexander and Donnell Herrington – describe being blasted with a shotgun by a white man in the Algiers Point neighborhood a few days after Katrina made landfall. And several members of a self-styled vigilante group, all of them white, recount a string of shootings targeting African Americans. “Three people got shot in just one day!” said one vigilante interviewed in the story.

Riley said the NOPD was unaware of this violence prior to the story’s publication. The department, according to Riley’s statement, “did not receive any complaints or information to substantiate any of the allegations of racial conflicts or vigilante type crimes in the City of New Orleans including the Algiers Point on the west bank of the City.”

We approached the NOPD previously about the incidents, but they had declined to comment.

Our story was the result of an 18-month investigation. A companion Web video can be seen here. In it, one white resident of Algiers Point boasts, “'It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.”

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