Bourgeois shot at three young black men fleeing Hurricane Katrina in 2005
Roland J. Bourgeois, Jr., 55, of New Orleans, LA, appeared yesterday
before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon and pleaded
guilty to charges that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he shot at
three young African-American men because of their race as the men
attempted to evacuate New Orleans, announced Acting Assistant Attorney
General for the Civil Rights Division John Gore; U.S. Attorney for the
Eastern District of Louisiana Peter G. Strasser; and FBI New Orleans
Division Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal.
According to documents filed in connection with the plea, shortly
after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Bourgeois and other white
male residents of the Algiers Point neighborhood agreed that they would
use force to keep out African Americans from their neighborhood. They
moved fallen trees to barricade the streets near their homes and started
armed patrols of the neighborhood.
On Sept. 1, 2005, three young African-American men – D.H., M.A., and
C.C. – walked to Algiers Point in an effort to reach the ferry landing, a
site that state and federal agencies were using as an evacuation point.
When the three men crossed a barricade constructed by Bourgeois and
others, Bourgeois opened fire with a shotgun, wounding all three men.
After the men fled, Bourgeois boasted that he had “got one” and pledged
to “kill that [racial slur]” if the man had survived. Bourgeois warned
one of his neighbors: “Anything coming up this street darker than a
brown paper bag is getting shot.”
“This guilty plea demonstrates the Justice Department’s continued
commitment over time to holding perpetrators of hate crimes accountable
for their actions,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore.
“All Americans have the right to be free from violence or physical harm,
regardless of their race.”
“Upholding the civil rights of our citizens is one of the most
important duties of the DOJ. This plea demonstrates the resolve of law
enforcement to hold individuals responsible for their actions, despite
the passage of time,” said U.S. Attorney Strasser. “Hopefully this plea
brings some measure of finality to those affected by this crime and to
this city that endured so much in the days following Hurricane Katrina.”
“Even though these crimes and Hurricane Katrina occurred over 13
years ago, the FBI does not forget. Today’s guilty plea is proof that
the arms of justice are long and we will continue to seek out those who
violate and deprive others of their civil rights,” said FBI Special
Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal.
Bourgeois will be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2019. Under the terms of the
plea agreement, Bourgeois faces a minimum of five years of imprisonment
and a maximum of ten years. Bourgeois was previously charged in a five-count indictment in July 2010.
The FBI conducted the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by
Assistant United States Attorney David Howard Sinkman of the Eastern
District of Louisiana and Special Litigation Counsel Jared Fishman and
Trial Attorney Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division.