An Open Letter to Rev. Al Sharpton – Stop Using Hurricane Katrina to Advance Your Political Agenda!

The Reverend Al Sharpton has publicly stated that if the victims of Hurricane Katrina had been white, the government’s response would have been much quicker. One wonders if Rev. Sharpton has even read the Hurricane Evacuation and Shelter Plan for Southeast Louisiana, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of the various government agencies.

Dear Reverend Al Sharpton,

I would like to respond to the following quote made by you while speaking in Houston:

  • “I feel like race was a factor. Why? I remember almost a year ago until the day I was in Florida when a hurricane came, not a point four, not a point five, and I saw the White House move. I saw the government of the president’s brother move. The National Guard was alerted before the storm ever hit. It seems to me that if we could have been alert in Palm Beach, Florida, we could have been alert in New Orleans.”

President Bush has publicly stated that he signed an emergency declaration in advance before Hurricane Katrina hit the state of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast Region.

According to separate FEMA and White House press releases dated August 27, President Bush authorized the allocation of federal funds to the state of Louisiana.

According to the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan (available online at ohsep.louisiana.gov/plans/EOPSupplement1a.pdf), New Orleans Mayor (Ray Nagin) and Louisiana Governor (Kathleen Blanco) had specific duties to do prior to Hurricane Katrina (which were not).

According to the hurricane evacuation and shelter plan for Southeast Louisiana, Governor Blanco would enlist the help of the National Guard. Why was the National Guard not ready to deploy to New Orleans and the other cities along the Gulf Coast?

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (who is black) would evacuate the people of his city if necessary using public vehicles to help those who could not escape the coming wrath of Katrina due to health or lack of transportation

The hurricane evacuation and shelter plan for Southeast Louisiana was very specific about what a strong hurricane could do to the city of New Orleans until the flooding that followed.

Rev. Sharpton had Mayor Nagin use city buses to help evacuate the poor and sick before Hurricane Katrina arrived. Much of the looting, human suffering and death would have been avoided.

Rev. Sharpton had Governor Blanco put the National Guard on standby before Hurricane Katrina arrived, they could have been deployed much more quickly to distribute food and water, help rescue the survivors and stop the looters.

Rev. Sharpton had Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin do what they needed to do before Hurricane Katrina arrived, the need for federal aid and support would have been limited to repair and reconstruction.

Rev. Sharpton, while I agree that mistakes and blunders were made at all levels of the city, state and federal government, I believe they were mistakes and not deliberate actions directed at a specific race or economic class of people.

Rev. Sharpton, we need an independent, impartial committee to study what went wrong and what was written with the Hurricane Response plan. I am confident that this committee will conclude that the poor response in the early stages was due to mistakes and accidents and not due to the race or economic status of the victims. If I’m wrong, Reverend Sharpton, I will apologize publicly. If I’m right, would Reverend Sharpton make a public apology?

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Rev. Sharpton, I challenge you to stop advancing your political agenda by making outrageous statements and using your fame to rally the people to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As an American, I am proud to see that donations to the Red Cross alone exceed $400 million in less than 2 weeks. I am proud to say that Americans of all races and economic backgrounds are rallying in support of Hurricane Katrina victims.

Rev. Sharpton I am proud to say that when I donated blood to help Hurricane Katrina, volunteers of many races worked on the blood drive. The blood donors lying on the tables next to mine were of many races and economic classes. When a local church collected, I saw people of many races and economic classes donate.

Rev. Sharpton, why not call attention to the 3 Young Boys ranging in age from 6 to 9 (with the help of their mothers) who raised over $1,000 at a lemonade stand to help with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. These Same Boys and their mothers set up the website lemonadeforkatrina.org/ to seek online donations in exchange for purchasing virtual lemonade. It seems like a grassroots movement of kids all over the country is selling lemonade, washing cars, selling Mardi Gras, and doing all sorts of fundraising.

Rev. Sharpton While I can’t say with 100% certainty (no one can until an impartial commission publishes its findings) that our government did not discriminate against any race or economic group in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I am proud to say that the people of America of all races and economic classes and age groups have responded quickly and generously to their compatriots in need. I hope and pray that our government, which is supposed to be a direct reflection of the people, is arguably innocent of all but a possible ill-executed plan.

In the meantime, Rev. Sharpton, let’s unite as a nation and do everything in our power to help all the people directly and indirectly affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Kind regards,

Mike Makler