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Live in a FEMA trailer park, lose your Constitutional rights
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, July 27, 2006

While reading a story about why a FEMA built trailer park which was almost completely empty (1 family, 197 empty trailers) in Morgan City, LA, I ran across this in the article:
And FEMA rules make it hard for reporters to talk freely to the few park residents about life there. During an interview in one trailer, a security guard knocked on the door, ordered the reporter out and eventually called police, saying residents aren’t allowed to talk to the media in the park.

[...]

[FEMA spokeswoman Rachel]Rodi wouldn’t say whether the actions of the security guards in Morgan City and Davant complied with FEMA policy, saying the matter was being reviewed. But she confirmed that FEMA does not allow the media to speak alone to residents in their trailers.

“If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview,” Rodi said. “That’s just a policy.”
Oh, really? A nice little verbal hand wave conveniently abrogates a person's Constitutional right to assembly and free speech does it? Live in a FEMA trailer and forfeit your rights is policy?

What country is this again?
Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said FEMA’s refusal to allow trailer park residents to invite media into their homes unescorted is unconstitutional.

“That’s a standard for a prison, not a relief park and a temporary shelter,” Leslie said “They cannot deny media access. It’s clearly unconstitutional … and definitely not legal.”
Can anyone explain why Ms. Rodi would believe that the policy she confirms is a valid policy?

"That's just policy"? What a scary freaking statement when applied in this regard.

No biggie. Some bureaucrat has decided your Constitutional rights are null and void.

"That's just policy".

UPDATE: Commenter Becky Dale alerts us to FEMA's new, revised policy, apparently sparked by this event:
In a July 11 e-mail message to The Advocate reporter who encountered the access problem, Rodi cited a "Media Protocol for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Group Sites." Among the six points in the half-page policy is that once onsite, "media may enter residents' trailers if they are invited by the residents to do so." But, the policy did not address whether FEMA personnel will accompany reporters.

The revised policy, released Tuesday, allows media unescorted access to the trailer parks, lets the media interview residents, and, if invited, enter residents' trailers. If a public information officer is not available, that cannot be used as a reason to deny access to the trailer park, according to the policy.
But of course that should all be the case without a policy statement from FEMA.

Good job by the media for putting a little sunshine on this bit of darkness.
 
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Comments
There’s an update to the story. FEMA has reversed course and is allowing reporters in. Here’s newer

 
Written By: Becky Dale
URL: http://
Well, it looks like the URL didn’t come through. I’ll just paste it in:
http://www.rcfp.org/news/2006/0725-new-femabo.html
 
Written By: Becky Dale
URL: http://
This one pushes my buttons. Not being normally that argumentative, I’ve gotten into some harsh conversations when I get the "it’s just our policy" line when the "policy" is idiotic to the point of lunacy.

One of the common circumstances is when an organization that has no need or right to my Social Security number insists that they must have it before proffering me some service. I equally insist that they can’t have it, and then the question is, do they want my business or not?

The looks I get from people when I say that are positively priceless. Based on the fact that it’s clear these folks have never faced such circumstances before, I conclude that most everyone else just goes along sheeplike with whatever "policy" these autocratic imbeciles come up with.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Any bets who will be the first to be blamed when an unescorted reporter is robbed, or raped in one of these camps.

Just sayin’
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://

 
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