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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Low attendance for recovery rally

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 4:44 PM

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From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. this morning, rally organizer Ray Broussard planned for a 1,200-person event uniting New Orleanians to have their voices heard concerning coastal restoration and reliable levee construction. It was a clear morning. Not too hot with a cool breeze. Perfect opportunity for a rally in the heart of the French Quarter just across from Jackson Square on the steps of Washington Artillery Park.

But Broussard (left) was joined only by K.C. King (right) and founder Sandy Rosenthal.

"This rally was supposed to be an opportunity for all New Orleanians to show whatever their concerns," Broussard says. "I’m frustrated. I know a lot of others out there who are frustrated. This was an opportunity for New Orleanians to be heard, potentially by the national audience — maybe even the federal government."

Broussard and King donned life vests and flood-ready gear with a bright green sign simply reading "Safety First!" To passing tourists, school groups and sidewalk passers-by, the duo shouted messages calling for category five flood protection and Army Corps of Engineers liabilty for the levee failures following Hurricane Katrina.

Broussard, once President Barack Obama's timeline was announced earlier this week for his visit to New Orleans, planned the rally and sent emails, messages and flyers to spread the word as soon as possible, but Rosenthal and Broussard agree that time wasn't on their side.

"I think if people saw this, coming out here, as a way to help themselves, instead of just some other rally to go to... " Rosenthal says. "It just goes to show it takes more than just a good idea."

Broussard scheduled the rally to take place before Obama's 1 p.m. town hall visit at the University of New Orleans.

"I’m hoping at the town hall, like-minded people show up and at least get to tell the president about some of our issues, and he acknowledges (them)," he says. "The ultimate thing: If I heard the president make a short speech, that he understands what’s happened here in New Orleans. If he could just ... understand it’s a man made disaster."

But Broussard says the rally didn't necessarily have to be about a single message.

"I wanted New Orleanians to get their word out, whatever it was," he says. "But for me, if I had a choice, it would’ve been 1,200 people here saying, ‘Restore the wetlands. Don’t wait. We cannot.’"

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