On the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina, it was reported that vigilantes roamed the streets of New Orleans, and African American men were their targets.
From the report of the Katrina National Justice Commission entitled, The Breach: Bearing Witness, we have testimony that African American men were in fact shot at and hit by vigilantes.
"Moreover," the report states, "there were several who testified about the presence of vigilantes in the days after the hurricane. These armed vigilante groups were reported to target African American men. There is reason to believe that some of these groups shot at or shot African American men with impunity.
"While some of this might have been in response to the misinformation about looting, murders and rapes immediately after the hurricane, this is a troubling report and one that requires an official investigation. Unless this is done, these issues will remain unsettled within the African American community and this nation."
An official investigation must be conducted. We as Americans can settle for nothing else. I am reminded how long, historically, it took for justice to be served in the murder of people of color, especially of Black men. How long did it take for justice to be served in the death of Medgar Evers? How long will it take for the murder of Emmett Till?
We all have vivid pictures in our minds of the inordinate number of injustice issues surfacing in the Gulf Coast after the hurricane. We all saw bodies floating face down in water. We all saw armed police stopping Americans from crossing over a bridge. We all saw the elderly, the marginalized, the least of these abandoned while birthday photo ops were taken, Broadway shows were seen, expensive shoes were purchased and Americans were called "refugees." How long before justice is served?
Contact your congresspersons. Write to the editors of your local newspapers. Talk about this in your churches. An official investigation into the possibilities of vigilantes shooting Black men in the Gulf Coast after Katrina must be conducted.
We can make a difference and justice can be served, or it will continue to be open season on African American men.
Carl P. Wallace is an executive associate with the United Church of Christ's Witness and Justice Ministries.