Katrina Bridge Killings Could be Accountability Moment for Us All

By Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Senior Manager, Law Enforcement Accountability

Originally posted in TheGrio.com

On September 4, 2005, six unarmed New Orleans residents were attacked, two of them shot to death, as they tried to seek refuge for themselves and their families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. More devastating is that the attacks came at the hands of members of the New Orleans Police Department, and they almost got away with it. Nearly five years later, the Department of Justice has charged four NOPD officers with the shooting of unarmed citizens, and two others with helping to cover it up in the initial investigation.

The charges brought against the four NOPD officers -- Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso - accused of the shooting deaths and two supervisors -- Arthur "Archie" Kaufman and Gerard Dugue - accused of the ensuing cover-ups, consist of civil rights violations which may carry sentences up to life in prison or the death penalty.

The Department of Justice has rightfully labeled the actions of the police officers as violations of civil rights. While the charges are serious and do carry severe punishments, there is a perspective that is lacking from this scenario.