‘This Is Blackmail’: New Orleans Denied Flood Funds Over Opposition to Abortion Ban

Progressives are sounding the alarm about the lengths to which GOP officials appear willing to go to advance their deeply unpopular and reactionary agenda after Louisiana’s State Bond Commission, at the urging of right-wing Attorney General Jeff Landry, once again denied flood prevention resources to New Orleans due to the city’s opposition to the state’s new abortion ban.

As CNN reported Saturday, last week marked the second time in as many months that the panel rejected financing for a $39 million planning and infrastructure project designed to protect the residents of Orleans Parish from storm-induced floodwaters, which are projected to intensify in the coming years as a result of the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis.

A statement shared on Landry’s official Facebook page and video from Thursday’s bond commission meeting make clear that the Republican attorney general, who can vote on the panel or designate a representative from his office to vote on his behalf, has been imploring his colleagues to withhold credit in a bid to force city officials to comply with the state’s assault on reproductive freedom.

Civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill described Landry and his co-conspirators’ actions as a manifestation of conservative “blackmail” that is “becoming normalized.”

Not enough people are “responding with the urgency these authoritarian moves deserve,” warned Ifill, the former president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The New Orleans City Council on July 7 passed a resolution in which local policymakers proclaimed their support for reproductive healthcare access and asked police, sheriff’s deputies, and prosecutors not to use public money to enforce Louisiana’s draconian prohibition on abortion, which took effect just days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s far-right majority overturned Roe v. Wade and is currently in force following multiple legal challenges.

The bond commission on Thursday voted 7-6 to defer a motion to approve flood prevention funding until next month, threatening the future well-being of Orleans Parish residents whose elected leaders are attempting to defy the cruel and dangerous forced pregnancy bill passed by Louisiana Republicans and signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“The officials in New Orleans took an oath of office to support and enforce the laws of our state, yet they have decided that some laws are not worthy of enforcement,” Landry said on Facebook after the vote. “Today was another step toward ensuring the parishes and municipalities of our state comply with the laws of our state.”

Deputy Attorney General Emily Andrews, representing Landry, told the commission in July that withholding financing “is really about sending a message that defiance of state law is unacceptable.”

“There’s no question this act of defiance is unconstitutional,” she argued. “We can all agree on the main principle, which is that a municipality and a parish cannot disregard state law. What we don’t agree on probably is the consequences.”

Work on the street improvements was expected to be finished in 2024. It’s unclear whether the decision by a handful of Louisiana Republicans to postpone construction will push back the completion date, but if it does, the consequences could be deadly.

 

The story has been edited for length. Read the full story at Common Dreams.

 

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