This is a guest post from Professor Lisa Sun at BYU Law School. She is the author, along with Daniel Farber, Jim Chen, and Robert Verchick, of Disaster Law and Policy, from Wolters Kluwer. Lisa writes:
News reports emerging from the devastation of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti last Tuesday suggest that street violence is growing and that local and international officials fear widespread looting, rioting, and the breakdown of civil order. For example, the U.K. Telegraph reported on Saturday that “[a]s anger and fears of violence grew amid desperate shortages of food, water, and medical supplies, bands of machete-wielding earthquake survivor [stet] yesterday roamed through the ruins of Port-au-Prince.” The paper likewise reported incidents of violence against rescuers.
These media reports evoke similar reporting about New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in fall 2005. Feverish reports of widespread looting and violence painted a picture of a city sinking, not only into the sea, but also into the depths of anarchy. The New Orleans Police Chief told Oprah Winfrey that “little babies [were] getting raped” in the Superdome. Numerous media outlets reported that Katrina survivors were firing on their would-be rescuers. Widespread looting was reported with headlines such as “The looters, They’re Like Cockroaches.” Read More