Were the levees detonated?

Watching the mainstream media coverage of Hurricane Katrina over the past year, I had developed a pretty solid understanding what happened to the levees. Just look at Wikipedia – clearly it was a flaw in design and a lack of maintenance, which led to the broken levees and the subsequent flooding of the 9th ward. It was not until I copped Lil’ Wayne’s Gangsta Grillz mixtape, The Dedication 2 that I heard anyone suggest otherwise.

I know some folks who live by the levee, they keep on telling me they heard explosions, same shit happened back in Hurricane Betsy in 1965 – Lil’ Wayne (a native of New Orleans)


These lyrics from Wizzie’s controversial song, Georgia Bush introduced me to an alternative explanation of what happened in 2005, and consequently, opened the floodgate for conversations on the subject. It seemed right after I listened to and internalized the lyrics of the song, I started hearing people talking about it all the time; the most common explanation being that the levees around the 9th ward were intentionally detonated so the area could be cleared of it’s Black residents and developed. This idea was strengthened after I watched Spike Lee’s documentary “When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” where several individuals testify to similar accounts of hearing explosions before the massive surge of flooding from the broken levees. But a part of me still has trouble believing that something like this is possible. Why would someone commit such an atrocious, horrible act? What would be the purpose? To develop land? To put some casinos where the hood used to be? I don’t think that’s adequate justification for the billions of dollars lost or, much more importantly, the thousands of lives lost in the disaster. However, as Spike Lee pointed out on Bill Maher’s Real Time: crazier things have happened.

I can think of three examples in recent United States history where an economic end – a bottom line – led to the destruction, displacement and killing of several thousands of people. I will place them in chronological order: Enslavement, the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments and the War in Iraq. Three real situations where innocent human beings, to a large extent people of color, have been displaced, killed, or psychologically scarred for life – all sacrificed to enhance the standard of living, physical health or pocketbooks of the American people. All three situations were rationalized as progressive development, instead of the obvious economic enterprises that they were. With a long history of sacrificing the lives of people of color for the economic/health/oil-related security of the American upper-class, I believe it is absolutely within the realm of possibility that the government could have taken extreme measures to rid the notorious 9th ward of it’s “criminally infested” Black population, so they could replace it with casinos and white clientele for profit.. the historical precedents speak for themselves. Furthermore, it is our obligation to interrogate the alternative explanations behind the destruction of the levees – especially when several eye-witnesses said that they heard explosions.

Personally, I don’t have enough information or evidence to make a solid judgment for or against the government, but I do not think it should be written off as some crazy conspiracy theory. What do you think?

Check out both sides of the debate in the clip from Bill Maher’s Real Time:

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Published on January 20, 2007 at 2:58 pm. 10 Comments.
Filed under history,news/politics,radical politics.