I got completely absorbed by Tom Junod’s feature story regarding Sal and Mabel Mangano, a New Orleans couple who face 34 counts of criminal neglect regarding the death of their patients during Hurricane Katrina. Their trial started last week, and Esquire magazine has made Junod’s feature on the couple (and their attorney) available in full. It’s an amazing read (both in content and style), and a terrible coda to a neighborhood’s destruction. The Mangano’s ignored the mandatory evacuation order during the run-up to Katrina’s landfall, mostly because their land and buildings had been left untouched by previous hurricanes, including 1965’s devastating Hurricane Betsy.
As the article points out, this trial has become more than just a simple finger-pointing exercise. In the words of lawyer James Cobb:
“You know who died in these houses?” Cobb says. “Old people. The storm wasn’t a black thing or a white thing; it was an old thing. Sixty-five percent of those who died were over sixty-five. Forty percent were over seventy-five. It was a complete fucking catastrophe for old people. And what does the attorney general do about it? Who are the people he arrests? Two senior citizens, Sal and Mabel Mangano. He arrests them for neglect while Michael Brown and Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco and Michael Chertoff and George W. Bush get a pass? No fucking way, man. They’ll have to kill me first.”
Read ‘The Loved Ones‘