January 15, 2007 - Martin Luther King Day. St Bernard Public Housing Development. New Orleans, LA. Four to five hundred people assembled on St. Bernard Avenue to force an entry into the St. Bernard Public Housing Development.
After a rally, tens of African American families marched through a barbed wire, chainlink fence with brooms, mops, buckets, and cleaning products, assisted by hundreds of activists and New Orleans residents to remove damaged property, clean, and disinfect while guarding returnees from possible confrontation by HANO (the Housing Authority of New Orleans) and NOPD (New Orleans Police Department).
The residents, who have not been permitted to return to their homes for sixteen - 1/2 months, intend to reoccupy their domiciles and inform other families and neighbors who have been forced to live sprawled across the fifty States that they may return to New Orleans.
Many challenges lie ahead, as it will be necessary to completely gut and clean these dwellings; convince the city to turn on the water, sewerage, gas and electricity; legally compel the City to cancel their agreements with developers to demolish these buildings in order to erect mixed-income housing; and prevent drugs and violent crime from returning.