We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Black Rage in New Orleans

Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina

Leonard N. Moore

Publication Year: 2010

In Black Rage in New Orleans, Leonard N. Moore traces the shocking history of police corruption in the Crescent City from World War II to Hurricane Katrina and the concurrent rise of a large and energized black opposition to it. In New Orleans, crime, drug abuse, and murder were commonplace, and an underpaid, inadequately staffed, and poorly trained police force frequently resorted to brutality against African Americans. Endemic corruption among police officers increased as the city’s crime rate soared, generating anger and frustration among New Orleans’s black community. Rather than remain passive, African Americans in the city formed antibrutality organizations, staged marches, held sit-ins, waged boycotts, vocalized their concerns at city council meetings, and demanded equitable treatment. Moore explores a staggering array of NOPD abuses—police homicides, sexual violence against women, racial profiling, and complicity in drug deals, prostitution rings, burglaries, protection schemes, and gun smuggling—and the increasingly vociferous calls for reform by the city’s black community. Documenting the police harassment of civil rights workers in the 1950s and 1960s, Moore then examines the aggressive policing techniques of the 1970s, and the attempts of Ernest “Dutch” Morial—the first black mayor of New Orleans—to reform the force in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even when the department hired more African American officers as part of that reform effort, Moore reveals, the corruption and brutality continued unabated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Dramatic changes in departmental leadership, together with aid from federal grants, finally helped professionalize the force and achieved long-sought improvements within the New Orleans Police Department. Community policing practices, increased training, better pay, and a raft of other reform measures for a time seemed to signal real change in the department. The book’s epilogue, “Policing Katrina,” however, looks at how the NOPD’s ineffectiveness compromised its ability to handle the greatest natural disaster in American history, suggesting that the fruits of reform may have been more temporary than lasting. The first book-length study of police brutality and African American protest in a major American city, Black Rage in New Orleans will prove essential for anyone interested in race relations in America’s urban centers.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (97.1 KB)

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (46.6 KB)
pp. ix

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (43.6 KB)
pp. xi-xii

I am grateful for the support of outstanding librarians and archivists at the Louisiana Division of the New Orleans Public Library; the Department of Special Collections at the University of New Orleans’s Earl K. Long Library; and the Amistad Research Center. And special thanks goes to Lynn Cunningham and Doug Parker at the...


pdf iconDownload PDF (52.5 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

read more

INTRODUCTION: Police Violence, New Orleans, and the Postwar Urban Landscape

pdf iconDownload PDF (111.1 KB)
pp. 1-16

Police brutality has been a source of frustration, anger, and rage for African Americans throughout the postwar period. In the postwar migration of African Americans out of the rural South into the nation’s urban areas in search of better social and economic opportunities, they came in contact with the most visible arm of the state: the police. African...

read more

1. NEGRO POLICE WILL AID IN LAW AND ORDER: The Fight for Black Police in the Crescent City

pdf iconDownload PDF (179.8 KB)
pp. 17-42

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, African Americans across the urban South tested the region’s commitment to democracy by demanding integration of local police departments. While black citizens had made similar requests during the interwar period, these requests became more serious and radical as black citizens looked at equal...

read more

2. OR DOES IT EXPLODE?: The Black Freedom Struggle Comes to New Orleans

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.8 KB)
pp. 43-69

While African Americans across the South were marching, sitting-in, and holding various forms of protest against segregation and disenfranchisement, television viewers outside the South saw the brutality of southern police departments that black southerners had complained about for decades. During the civil rights movement, many police...

read more

3. "WE WANT AN END TO POLICE BRUTALITY": The Black Panthers, Desire, and Police Repression

pdf iconDownload PDF (164.9 KB)
pp. 70-95

Point Number Seven of the Black Panther Party (BPP) Platform and Program, “What We Want, What We Believe,” spoke directly to the issue of police brutality and sexual violence against women. “We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of black people,” read the statement. Founded in 1966 in Oakland, California, as a...

read more

4. THE POLITICS OF SELF-DEFENSE: Mark Essex, the Soul Patrol, and Black Vigilantism

pdf iconDownload PDF (134.2 KB)
pp. 96-114

With the popular radicalism of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and other organizations, such as the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Republic of New Afrika, the Liberators, the Defenders, and the Black Liberation Front, in the early 1970s, government authorities called for an increased police presence in urban communities, partly...

Image Plates

pdf iconDownload PDF (465.1 KB)

read more

5. THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE: The Black Organization of Police, Mass Protest, and the City Council Hearings

pdf iconDownload PDF (167.8 KB)
pp. 115-139

In the immediate post-Essex period, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and other urban police departments adopted aggressive policing techniques as they increased their presence in black neighborhoods. Responding in part to escalating national crime rates, local law enforcement officials doubled police expenditures between...

read more

6. BLACK POWER POLITICS: Ernest “Dutch” Morial and the Limits of Police Reform

pdf iconDownload PDF (152.8 KB)
pp. 140-163

One of the greatest accomplishments of the postwar period was the transition from protest to political power. Beginning with Cleveland’s election of Carl Stokes in 1967, virtually every major city in America would elect an African American as mayor by the mid-1980s. As expected, black mayors launched an impressive array of programs and...

read more

7. “WE ARE LIVING IN A POLICE STATE”: The Algiers Tragedy, the Maturation of Community Protest, and the Politics of a Civilian Review Board

pdf iconDownload PDF (221.1 KB)
pp. 164-202

Between 1976 and 1982, the United States experienced an unprecedented crime wave as rape and violent crimes continued to escalate. Trapped in enclaves of high unemployment, poor housing, bad schools, and inadequate social services, blacks turned their frustration inward as American’s inner cities became sites of general despair. In...

read more

8. BLACK-ON-BLACK CRIME: The Consequences of White Flight, the War on Drugs, and Political Indifference

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.9 KB)
pp. 203-219

After a decade of economic decline, white flight, and urban disinvestment, along with six years of Reaganomics and an oil bust that cost more than 60,000 residents their jobs, New Orleans was struggling to survive as Sydney Barthelemy took office. Like many of the nation’s urban centers, New Orleans suffered from federal and state...

read more

9. “A NEW DAY IN BABYLON”: The Professionalization of the New Orleans Police Department and the Claiming of Urban Public Space

pdf iconDownload PDF (179.9 KB)
pp. 220-248

In 1993, Marc H. Morial captured the mayor’s office largely on a platform to completely overhaul the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and stamp out corruption and brutality. The thirty-six-year-old attorney and alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown Law School ran an unsuccessful race for Congress in 1990, and...

read more

EPILOGUE: Policing Katrina

pdf iconDownload PDF (79.1 KB)
pp. 249-255

As the dire predictions about Hurricane Katrina controlled public discussion in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast throughout the month of August, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) did not make any definite emergency plans until thirty-six hours before landfall. At a meeting on Saturday, August 27, the NOPD command staff...


pdf iconDownload PDF (147.7 KB)
pp. 257-280


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.1 KB)
pp. 281-292


pdf iconDownload PDF (596.3 KB)
pp. 293-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780807137406
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807135907

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2010