Downtown Action: Protesting the Demolition of Public Housing in New Orleans

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You have to love a good protest.

About a dozen people gathered today at the corner of Fannin and Polk, site of the Housing and Urban Development office, to play drums, dance, wave signs and hand out fliers – all in the name of social justice.

The issue was the planned demolition of public housing in New Orleans. Protestors don't like HUD destroying 4,500 units of low-income housing to allow private developers to build on the land. Furthermore, protestors are angry because the apartments scheduled for demolition weren't even damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

"This is another example of how environmental problems affect people of color – directly or indirectly. They're using disaster as a pretext to get rid of low-income people," said Bryan Parras, who attended today's action on behalf of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.

If you're wondering what Houston has to do with all this, the answer is not much, though similar protests are scheduled in 13 other cities. The idea here was to show support for the protestors in New Orleans and to alert the average Houstonian to the issue.

"I don't even think people here realize it's happening," Parras said. "They probably think [residents of New Orleans] are better off."

Today's protest didn't draw a huge crowd. The business men and women entering and leaving the building did a pretty good job of not taking any fliers and staying away from the percussion group.

But the Houston Police Department showed up in strong numbers. At one point, four police cars and six officers lined the street in front of the protest. At least someone is paying attention. – Paul Knight

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