‘Times-Picayune’ Announces New Home — in Houma — and Reports Looting by Cops and Firemen

By: E&P Staff

The battered Times-Picayune of New Orleans, which evacuated its downtown office this afternoon, posted a simple note to it staffers on its Web site late this afternoon: “We are working at the Houma Courier for a few days. If you have news, call 985-850-1182. We plan to set up a longer term newsroom in Baton Rouge. Call the Advocate to find out where we are.”

Meanwhile, two staffers published a story on one of the Web site’s blogs, reporting on the looting in the city — joined in by cops and firemen who had been called to the scene.

Other reports, and TV footage, have shown brazen looting at many sites around the city. One compared the current climate in the increasingly desperate city to “Sodom and Gomorrah.”

One looter shot a local police officer, but Tuesday night word came that the officer was expected to survive.

At the Times-Picayune Web site, Mike Perlstein and Brian Thevenot wrote that at a Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, mass looting broke out after a giveaway of supplies was announced at that location. While some did indeed carry away food and essentials, others “cleared out jewelry racks and carted out computers, TVs, and appliances on handtrucks. Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat screen television.

“Throughout the store and parking lot, looters pushed carts and loaded trucks and vans alongside officers. One man said police directed him to Wal-Mart from Robert’s Grocery, where a similar scene was taking place. A crowd in the electronics section said one officer broke the glass DVD case so people wouldn’t cut themselves.

“The police got all the best stuff. They’re crookeder than us,” one man said. Most officers, though, simply stood by powerless against the tide of law breakers.

One veteran officer said, “It’s like this everywhere in the city. This tiny number of cops can’t do anything about this. It’s wide open.”

Some groups, the reporters wrote, “organized themselves into assembly lines to more efficiently cart off goods. Inside the store, one woman was stocking up on make-up. She said she took comfort in watching police load up their own carts. ‘It must be legal,’ she said. ‘The police are here taking stuff, too.'”

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