New Orleans Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime in Shooting of Three African-American Men Attempting to Evacuate After Hurricane Katrina
Bourgeois shot at three young African-American men fleeing Hurricane Katrina in 2005
WASHINGTON –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. This 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.