"Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy: Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. Rapes, violence and estimates of the dead were wrong." -- Los Angeles Times, Sept. 27, 2005
Los Angeles, Sept. 25, 2005: Tragedy struck a small elementary school in downtown Los Angeles today when a pipe burst, dousing third grade children with icy cold water. George Washington Elementary students were stunned as they found themselves flooded out of their classrooms; some of the younger students were visibly upset. One little girl sobbed as she attempted to wade through the debris of desks, chalk and large No. 2 pencils. "Why did this happen to us?" Sarah Menendez plaintively asked her mother, Christina.
Viewers across the street described the carnage as students poured out of the school. "I saw one boy missing an arm. The blood and body parts were just everywhere. A couple corpses floated right out the front door," described shaken observer John Hinckley. "The police came in here and started blowing children away. It was like that time I got my head stuck in a meat grinder and the pink elephants saved me."
Other reports were even more disturbing. According to one source, Los Angeles police didn't show up for over seven hours. When they did, they immediately began clubbing random persons. Reportedly, each and every "random" person was of a minority race. One of the victims, who described himself to reporters as "on leave from San Quentin," clutched his arm in agony as he bled from a needle wound.
Looters ran excitedly from classroom to classroom, grabbing televisions, boomboxes, and most bizarrely, pencil sharpeners. Angry teachers attempted to defend themselves with small desks, but found themselves outmatched by the rioters. Police themselves were barraged with chalkboard erasers and were forced to retreat to the outskirts of the area.
Experts estimate that the damage to Washington Elementary will cost well over $1,000 in a district that can hardly afford such expenditures. But the human damage is far worse. Many of these students will be scarred for life, school psychiatrist Elsa Stein warned. "For these children to have to suffer through this terrible situation will most certainly affect their social abilities and cultural perspectives," Stein said. "How can they be expected not to hate?"
Meanwhile, Rep. Maxine Waters descended upon the elementary school with a bullhorn. "No justice, no peace!" she chanted, as the crowd responded with cheers.