Baton Rouge’s season of pain: shootings, unrest, now floods
BATON ROUGE, LA.
Anger. Sorrow. Vengeful glee. Guilt. Terrence Carter has experienced it all during Baton Rouge’s summer of pain. And Thursday, as he walked through the dirty water on the floor of his home, Carter said he was experiencing, of all things, hope.
“A couple of weeks ago, it seems like everybody was pulling apart. Now it’s no black and white thing. Everybody’s just got to help everybody to come out of this,” he said.
Baton Rouge, the unassuming Louisiana capital city that is often overshadowed by jazz-loving, hard-partying New Orleans, has endured a string of tragedies this summer: the July 7 shooting death of a black man at the hands of two white police officers, the July 17 ambush killings of three officers by a black man, and now, the rains that have triggered catastrophic flooding.
And yet, amid this latest crisis, Carter and others have seen people pull together – white and black, officers and civilians – in ways that give them hope.
“We had so much division and hate in this city, but it’s kind of a cleansing and a washing and God letting us know that all the things that we are fighting over and that are dividing us, that he’s in control of everything,” Cleve Dunn Jr., a leader in the black community.
The waters are largely receding across southern Louisiana. At least 13 people have died, and authorities are looking for more. More than 85,000 people have registered for federal disaster assistance, more than 30,000 have been rescued and about 40,000 homes were damaged.
Carter, who is black, knew Alton Sterling, the black man who was killed outside a Baton Rouge convenience store after a struggle on the pavement. Angered by Sterling’s death, Carter protested at police headquarters. He confesses he was happy when he first heard about the deadly assault on the officers.
Then he felt guilty: “Their families lost them. They had kids who’ll be growing up without a father.”
Then came the flood, which brought 4 feet of water to his home. The stench is overpowering and the task ahead daunting.
One sure sign of how the city has unified has been the “Cajun Navy,” a corps of regular citizens who have gone out on boats to rescue people stranded in their houses.