"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Still Dying 

Edgar Hollingsworth

The man in the photograph is Edgar Hollingsworth, who was recovered yesterday from his home in New Orleans by members of the California National Guard. He was found unconscious and emaciated, and in all probablity within 24 hours of dying (he is now expected to recover).

I saw this photo in my morning newspaper, and found it deeply evocative. What I did not know, however, until I read this DKos diary, is that Mr. Hollingsworth is alive today only because the honorable members of the California National Guard disobeyed direct orders (free registration required):
In the past few days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ordered searchers not to break into homes. They are supposed to look in through a window and knock on the door. If no one cries out for help, they are supposed to move on. If they see a body, they are supposed to log the address and move on.

This particular unit failed to follow that protocol and broke into Mr. Hollingsworth's home (he did not respond to knocking, presumably because he had become generally nonresponsive). That decision saved his life.

Consider what this means: It is quite likely, perhaps even certain, that Mr. Hollingsworth is not unique. There are most probably others in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf Coast region who are unable to respond to knocks at their doors, and who will die as a direct result of this asinine FEMA policy. (Troll prophylactic - yes, I am generally opposed to Guardsmen or other government agents breaking into private homes. In this instance, however, there are a whole slew of reasons why the 4th Amendment can bend in the interest of public safety. Non-lawyers are advised to brush up on the doctrine of exigent circumstances.)

Michael Brown is gone, but the stench of criminal negligence remains. It can still be discerned - though who knows for how long - over the stench of human remains.




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