Thursday, March 23, 2006
This 'folk hero' sheriff could face charges
It was less than a week after Katrina laid waste to the gulf coast, and Billy McGee, the sheriff of Forrest County, Mississippi, was tired of waiting for help to arrive. So he ordered his deputies to nearby Camp Shelby, a FEMA staging area, and told them to commandeer two 18-wheelers loaded with ice that were being held under lock and key.

The officers followed McGee's orders. In the process, a National Guard soldier who tried to stop the hijacking was handcuffed. McGee is in hot water and may face criminal charges. But his community is backing him.

The opinion page editor of the local newspaper says, "Hang on." Six days after Katrina, the county had no power, no ice, and temperatures were in the 90s. The editor says FEMA's response to the disaster was anemic. People were hurting. Someone had to do something. A poll shows 88 percent of the county supports McGee.

In fact there is even a song out in the area, a tribute to McGee's actions. It tugs at heartstrings, but is a little rough on the ears.

I talked to McGee and his attorney for about an hour, all off camera. They don't like the attention and won't talk about the case with cameras running.

The investigation into the sheriff's action was being handled by a U.S. attorney in Jackson, Mississippi, but he recused himself. The case was transferred to a U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who is deciding what to do with it.

I popped into a place where people are only too willing to talk about the case -- a blue-collar diner called Mom and Dad's Country Cooking, in Petal, Mississippi, just outside Hattiesburg.

The place was filled with burly folks who look as though they don't miss many meals. In between bites, we learned the sheriff isn't some cowboy. Far from it. They say he's soft-spoken, a local fellow who's serving his fourth term. He was a good softball player, and a guy who cheated death by beating leukemia. And to a person, they support what he did 100 percent. It's elevated the sheriff to folk hero status.

One fellow summed up the sentiment in the diner, saying, "He stepped up and did something for the people. That's it."
Posted By Sean Callebs, CNN Correspondent: 10:53 AM ET
  72 Comments
common sense these days is absent. a person acts in the greater good of people and it is a crime. It is a shame we dont have more criminals on the level as this sheriff. John Wayne he's not. An American Hero he is.
Posted By Anonymous Dan Springfield il : 11:39 AM ET
If there is anything worth going to jail for, this is it!!
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 11:39 AM ET
I seriously hope that the US attorney in Baton Rouge has better things to do than continue to pursue this case. How about going to New Orleans and helping out some of the inmates that have been sitting in jail for almost 7 months? That would be a much better use of his time.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Durham NC : 11:40 AM ET
Ok, what he did was right, but how he went about it was a little over the top. I think we have to walk a mile in his shoes (at that time -- during those conditions) to understand this mans actions. Most people have never been faced with such devistation. You have to understand how men process things. They are problem solvers -- fixers of all. He stepped up because he has an obligation to the people of his community. The atmospher at that time was to simply survive - desperate men do desperate things.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 11:41 AM ET
It really is SIMPLE: Sometimes concerned individuals are often better that the government at solving society's problems
Posted By Anonymous AJ, West Hartford, CT : 11:42 AM ET
I support the Sheriff and his deputies. FEMA needs to just accept responsibility for their failures and commend the guy for doing something positive. Anyway, the sheriff took an oath to protect the citizens of Forrest County -- and that's what he did!
Posted By Anonymous VinceFa, Summerville, SC : 11:43 AM ET
It would be sad if this man who actually tried to do something to help goes to jail while many of those who showed real "CAN'T do" attitudes (Chertoff, Brown, Bush, Blanco, and Nagin to name a few) have yet to be held accountable for the deaths and suffering to which their inaction contributed. Yes, it may be technically illegal, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Perhaps Sheriff McGee saved lives and he certainly lessened the suffering of many by "liberating" the ice. And letting people suffer when there is something you can do is the real crime.
Posted By Anonymous Norah Mason, West Chester, PA : 11:43 AM ET
He helped his fellow man. Isn't that what it's about. He did the right thing.
Posted By Anonymous Kristi,Memphis, Tennessee : 11:46 AM ET
No wonder the government is considering pressing charges. Judging from what we saw after Katrina, it must be illegal to make FEMA actually help people.
We need more Billy McGee's in this world and less FEMA bureaucrats.
Posted By Anonymous Phebe, Phoenix, AZ : 11:48 AM ET
All hail, Billy McGee!!! Someone needed to take charge and do something for the people in New Orleans during their time of need. We have too many people who wait around for someone else to do something. I think it was great that Sheriff McGee saw that he could do something to help during this time of crisis and then took action. I hope the US attorney in Baton Rouge, LA does the right thing by dropping this case.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin - Atlanta, GA : 11:48 AM ET
Maybe we should let this Sheriff run FEMA! Then maybe the trailers that are sitting unoccupied in Hope, Ark. might end up where people need them.
Posted By Anonymous Clayton Crane Moselle,MS : 11:53 AM ET
The sherriff who did what was right is being prosecuted by the legal system in our country. We no longer put any stock in what is right, just what is legal. As a country we are going the wrong way, it's time to turn things around!
Posted By Anonymous Don Wyman, San Antonio, Texas : 11:57 AM ET
This man was obviously a voice of reason and took action. At the very least he alleviated suffering, and he may have saved lives. Is there no leeway for logic and reason?
Posted By Anonymous Bart Cooper, Oklahoma City OK : 11:57 AM ET
The image of law enforcement during the hurricane that sticks in my head the most, is the one where two woman officers are among the looters in a local department store, and do not appear to care that they are being videotaped, by a network. Then there are the heroes, many who do not seek the attention or wait until help arrives because they have waited long enough. The preacher in the small town, the 18-year old boy who drove the bus, and now the sheriff, all who cross the line of what is considered illegal to prevent further disaster. It is is obvious that macro-management failed them. I say he should face his charges like a hero, and curse the judge that finds him guilty.
Posted By Anonymous MJK, Chicago, Illinois. : 12:04 PM ET
There's no need for either side to raise noise about it. He defended his own. Moral considerations rarely appear in crises, or else they wouldn't be crises. If he does face charges, they should be strictly commeasurate with the law -- or with common sense, whichever takes precedence.
Posted By Anonymous Vadim Kokielov, Millburn, NJ : 12:06 PM ET
Youve Gotta be Kidding!I watch CNN daily and I have yet to see or hear about this story.Youve gotta put this on air!!!
Sounds like this Guy took posative action in a horrible situation to help folks and he's gonna be charged with a crime? Meanwhile the Guy's who did nothing are walkin away patting themselves on the back for a job well done.
Well in case of another disaster I want Billy McGee there,the rest of you just get outa the way!!
I'm glad the Firefighters and Cops in New York didn't sit around and wait on 911.True American Hero's all.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick,Wayland,Ma. : 12:06 PM ET
I moved to forrest county from pearl river county after the storm. I lost my home and the area it was located took nearly a month to get power. I stayed in Stone county for 3 weeks before I found a place to live. If it wasn't for the people (the volunteers, the residents and the local law enforcement) there would have been more post Katrina casualties from the heat and lack of water. Billy McGee took care of his people (i do think handcuffing the Nat'l Guardsman was a little much, but oh well). FEMA did NOTHING for us in those first days. NOTHING. It was up to the people to take care of each other. Hopefully the feds have enough sense to realize they're just pissed because a "Good Ol' Country Boy" made them look bad.
Posted By Anonymous S.S. Petal, MS : 12:07 PM ET
Good for that sheriff. If the US decides to prosecute him for acting for the good of his people in that county when the US itself failed to act, then this country is far worse off than I ever thought.
Posted By Anonymous Joel, Broken Arrow, OK : 12:07 PM ET
It seems that who ever takes this case on to prosecute McGee is going to have to tread very lightly. Personally, this case should be thrown out due to the dire circumstances. We should not condone vigilantism, our laws are in place to keep order and stability, but the system broke down and many laws were circumvented to help bring aide to those in need. However, this case to prosecute and convict him is working against the grain to heal and rebuild our nation. It's for this reason, we have a judge and jury that act as our concious in legal matters. I only hope that the judicial conciousness of reason weighs in.
Posted By Anonymous Doug, Virginia Beach, VA : 12:08 PM ET
We have Good Samaritan laws to protect people who inadvertently cause harm while in the act of trying to help people during medical emergencies. This was a natural disaster that affected two states. Why can't we apply the same principles of the Good Samaritan law in this case? The sherrif involved only moved equipment to the affected area, he didn't cause anyone harm in the process. Acting to save lives and render aid during disasters should never be prosecuted.
Posted By Anonymous Katryna, Los Angeles CA : 12:08 PM ET
In a normal day, our laws are in place to protect our society and most of us try to follow them as best we can. But when a day is not normal and it is not possible to be as fully prepared as you can be then it takes a person like this sheriff to step in and say let's do what we can with what we can in order to save lives and worry about what trailer ended up where after we get people in them. Our federal government was not prepared but led us to believe they were and instead of thanking someone for assisting them, they want to punish. Life is too precious to bicker about what ice goes where and which trailers or busses should go to what cities. An emergency is an emergency NOT a time to stand around and place blame for not following "street rules" procedures. I'm just waiting for the federal government to request a "do over" or call it a "mulligan."
Posted By Anonymous Jake Duffner, Jonesboro, Arkansas : 12:10 PM ET
Bravo! to Sheriff McGee and the citizens who back him. McGee is a true hero who did the right thing when those in charge could not.
Posted By Anonymous Casey, Port Charlotte, Florida : 12:12 PM ET
Sherrif McGee did the right thing. Sometime's when know one is stepping up to the plate, good people take the chance of doing the right thing. Had he waited for the paperwork be filled out he might still be waiting and the ice would have melted. When a situation arises you do something and alter your plan according to the problem and time's, leadership.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne Alan Law Bible Hill, Nova Scotia : 12:13 PM ET
This man (Sheriff McGee) excercised a moral set of values during a time when New Orleans city officers were looting and cowardly abandoning the very people they took an oath to protect and Sheriff McGee is the criminal?
Only in America....
Posted By Anonymous Johnny, Corpus Christi Texas : 12:16 PM ET
Once again, buracracy has to put it's stamp on something before it can be accomplished. By the time the buracracy could move in this situation the trucks would have run out of fuel and the ice would have melted. Buracracy hates it when proven wrong.
Posted By Anonymous Rich, Council Bluffs Iowa : 12:18 PM ET
I live in Forrest County. Billy McGee is a HERO! We had no lights, no water, no food, no ice and no gasoline. We also had no functioning radio stations or Televison stations. All cell phone towers were gone. Most of the roads were blocked by trees. The only communication we had was word of mouth. He diverted supplies to a place that people were gathering for HELP. That he is even being bothered by the FEDS is INSANE. People nationwide need to help this man by flooding the White House with mail and email asking to stop this insanity!
Posted By Anonymous Charles B Everitt Jr Hattiesburg, MS : 12:23 PM ET
First of all, why was the ice under Lock and Key? It should have been on the streets and distibuted to the people. The same people FEMA neglected when they needed it most. Nothing pulls my chain more than to see a hero like Billy Mcgee having to defend his actions. Actions that meant nothing but good will to suffering huricane vitims. My heart goes out to all that were affected.
Posted By Anonymous Brian R, Belleville, IL : 12:26 PM ET
Sir or Madam U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I implore you, drop the charges against Sherrif McGee, please!
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Cheshire, CT : 12:29 PM ET
Apparently, FEMA's strategy is to sit by, do nothing, then blame everyone else for their ineptness.

We need more people like Bill McGee. He did what needed to be done at the time. Agree or disagree with him, he acted to SAVE people. Period. He didn't do it for himself.

He has my highest praise.

Can you imagine what might have happened if Bill McGee had been in charge of FEMA at time of Katrina? FEMA might actually have gotten it right!!!!! Too bad we'll never know.
Posted By Anonymous Vickie, Cleveland, OH : 12:32 PM ET
Wha he did was illegal. His actions, although heroic in my eyes, were against the law. Sometimes going through the correct channels to get things done seem futile, but that still doesn't give anybody the right to take the law into their own hands. I don't blame this gentleman for what he did, people needed those supplies. However as an officer of the law he knows what actions were appropriate and what actions were not...and handcuffing a National Guadsman who was carrying out his orders, were way inappropriate. i don't take the law into my own hands and i would expect an officer of the law to do the same...
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Baton Rouge LA : 12:32 PM ET
Finally! A story of common sense associated with "authority" in the Katrina disaster. Maybe he should head up FEMA??
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Springfield, IL : 12:34 PM ET
I absoluty think that our country has become to hungy to procecute. It is blatendly obvious that the sherrif in this case, ONLY had intentions of doing what he was hired to do. SERVE AND PROTECT. I commend his actions!!! And at the smae time, being a 6 year military veteran, I happen to feel that the natioal guard shoudlnt supperceed his athourity unless commanded by the and active army unit. The majority of National Guard units have always typically not been knowledgeable enough, experienced enough, or professional enough to take on the responsibilities that obviously this Sherif was compelled to take on. Knowing that FEMA, The National Guard and several other entitied were not prepared to provide IMMEDIATE assistance, that Sherif had no other choice...again, he made the right choice and he should be receiving a comendation, not procescution.

Frankly, even the consideration of procesecution is a waste of tax payer money!!! and time.
Posted By Anonymous Christopher, Philadelphia, PA : 12:38 PM ET
If this man gets convicted of any criminal offense, so should each accountable member of the Bush administration for their complete negligence of the whole tragedy and it's aftermath.
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Hutto TX : 12:39 PM ET
Too bad this made media attention, I volunteered with the Red Cross and was in La four weeks after the storm and still nothing had happened. We got people people the help they needed any way we could. More help was given out afterhours in exactly this manner..The Federal government wasn't going to help; we did!
Posted By Anonymous Jeff , Detroit, Michigan : 12:39 PM ET
I think what this man done was the right thing.The people in that area was not getting help from our government so he had no choice but to step up.Good Job Sheriff McGee!!
Posted By Anonymous Angela, Macon Georgia : 12:39 PM ET
Having lived thru Katrina, I can understand why and support his actions unconditionally. H e took action instead of waiting till it was too late
Posted By Anonymous Ron Freeman, Mobile, AL : 12:41 PM ET
It is a great day when someone steps forward to do what needs to be done.
All to often the "Powers That Be" are too busy with talking and no meaningful action is being taken.
Posted By Anonymous Bill Ashworth, Clarkdale, AZ : 12:47 PM ET
Sheriff Billy McGee should be awarded for his actions and not punished. He took action to help others when no one else would. We can all learn from what he did and those above him should realize their mistakes.
Posted By Anonymous Laura: Toronto, ON : 12:48 PM ET
Finally, an offical who took a stand during the aftermath instead of saying "How will this effect me" I say WAY TO GO! He is a hero.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 12:49 PM ET
It felt much hotter than 90 degrees to me! I remember everyone asking "where is help?" and "when's help coming". We had no radios. Phones didn't work. We felt alone out there and everyone had to pitch in to help one another. I'm proud that our Sheriff stepped up to bat and took action to actually DO SOMETHING. Everyone asks why wasn't this done? Here is someone that actually took action and they want to punish him for it? That's not right. I feel like the sheriff's actions are along the same line as a parent. You don't always know what the best decision for your kids are but you make choices and just hope that it is right. That is what the sheriff did. It's plain and simple. He wasn't stealing. He wasn't trying to keep people from getting those supplies. If FEMA could have told him when and where those supplies were going then he would have helped them get the supplies there. Meanwhile the people here were desperately needing help. This is the same town where someone was shot over a bag of ice. We needed help. The sheriff took action. Shame on whomever is doing this to him.
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca White, Hattiesburg, MS : 12:50 PM ET
I think the sheriff should be awarded a medal for his action when there was so much in-action.
Posted By Anonymous Don, Cumming, Ga : 12:50 PM ET
if his intentions were right or wrong isn't the issue. Did he break a law? I'm sure the individuals who looted plasma screens can make the same argument.
Posted By Anonymous Darrell Jones, Baton Rouge LA : 12:50 PM ET
It is a valid legal defense to do something illegal in order to save someone from imminent danger (e.g., breaking into a burning building to save someone from the fire danger). That is obviously the case here, although the federal government still doesn't seem to get it that people were -- and in many cases still are -- in dire need of the most basic of assistance.

If those whose actions were wrong, harmful, or put people in danger in the days since Katrina are to be prosecuted, the list is long and unfortunately, still growing. But it's ludicrous for it to inlude McGee or anyone else who tried to save lives, ~N~
Posted By Anonymous -Nioshii- NYC/ATL : 12:52 PM ET
Sounds like Sheriff McGee was "protecting & SERVING..." his community. What a waste of taxpayer money to pursue prosecution in this case; he should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for going above the call of duty. With the FEMA mess, this should be the least of the Gov't worries! If they prosecute Sheriff McGee for doing something, then those that didn't do anything; the whole FEMA organization, should be prosecuted too.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Hemet CA : 12:53 PM ET
I am still a loyal Bush supporter. But, this Sherrif should be rewarded for his actions, not pursued. In fact, put him in charge of Homeland Security. Sounds like red tape does not shut off his common sense.
Posted By Anonymous Jack Nicholson, Atlanta, GA : 12:54 PM ET
I think we've found a great candidate for a new FEMA director. This man and his fund may never be able to contribute to a presidential library fund, but he should get a presidential pardon anyway!
Posted By Anonymous Lee, Atlanta, GA : 12:54 PM ET
This man was not out to sell the contents of the trailers. That would be a different story. He was in the process of trying to save his community. His JOB! Something our government can do for other countries in disasters but not our own. He should not even have to go through this. Besides his actions were better than FEMA.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Wernersville, PA : 12:55 PM ET
To the police officer, Paul above... Amazing you think and feel, "Rules" are more important then peoples Lives in a natural disaster. Is there no humanity left, no common sense.
Posted By Anonymous Richard Hunter San Francisco, Ca. : 12:56 PM ET
"The place was filled with burly folks who look as though they don't miss many meals. In between bites, ...."

What does the eating habits and size of the people eating have to do with this story. Nothing; except it is another shot taken at people from the South in an attempt to paint them as fat and stupid.
Posted By Anonymous David, Atlanta GA : 12:56 PM ET
Too bad other people didn't step up to the task of helping in this matter in a timely way. What good was the ice doing, just sitting there when people needed it just to survive. The Sheriff is definitely a hero.
Posted By Anonymous Mona, Summerville, SC : 1:00 PM ET
I think FEMA is upset because the Sheriff stepped in and did their job. Ok FEMA, write the Sheriff a $5.00 parking ticket and call it even.
Posted By Anonymous Scott B Amelia, Ohio : 1:02 PM ET
I work at a small-town radio station in Illinois, and, watching in horror as the emergency service inertia snowballed, I took it upon myself to attempt a local relief effort. As soon as I got managerial approval, I got on the air and urged listeners for the next week to come by the studio to drop off donations of whatever they could afford, cash or supplies. It was being done in consort with a local church that had also organized a program for people around here to help chip in. The congregation had scheduled a collection on a Saturday morning, and I loaded into my car everything that had been brought to the radio station. Clothes, diapers, and the other supplies that were donated were given to the wonderful people at the church, while I bought a postal money order for the Red Cross with the cash that had been deposited in a coffee can at the station's front desk and then mailed it.

The following Monday morning, I was met with a royal chewing-out by my boss, then by her boss, for what was seen as an unauthorized commandeering of the stuff. I nearly got fired for it. If I had not taken everything to the scheduled receiving point, none of it would have made it onto the truck to Louisiana and Mississippi, but I guess that was beside the point. Apparently I was supposed to sit idly by because, I assume, that's what the President and the rest of the government were doing in response to the disaster. No good deed . . .

Hang in there, Billy McGee! There are others of us out here who recognized that sitting on our hands was not the thing to do. Too bad the ones who were in charge saw it differently.
Posted By Anonymous Bryan E. Smith, Centralia, IL : 1:04 PM ET
It's about time someone used common sense in this disaster. I only wish he was our sheriff.....Too bad it had to come to this,but,it was needed...
Posted By Anonymous D.S, Scottsdale,AZ : 1:04 PM ET
GOOD FOR HIM!!! That's the kind of people we as a country need around when there's a disaster. I am sick of hearing all the whining because nothing was done fast enough. Well, if more people had acted as McGee did and taken the initiative to help instead of being helped then Katrina wouldn't have taken as much from our fellow southerners as it did and still is.
Posted By Anonymous Sonya Delaney, Georgia : 1:07 PM ET
Another example of how FEMA and the Dept of Homeland Security are out of touch with reality. I don't know Sheriff Magee but he sounds like the kind of person I want on my team. What else is a leader supposed to do? But we all know these shameless bureaucrats will keep trying to rake this guy over the coals rather than admit that they screwed up. LETS ALL STAND WITH SHERIFF MAGEE! Maybe he should be president. And to the US Attorney here in Baton Rouge, I know you have far more important things to do than harrass this man. If you want get involved the this start with the failed levees in New Orleans. Now you can lock up alot of folks for that snafu.
Posted By Anonymous Stan M - Baton Rouge, LA : 1:09 PM ET
Just to back up a little bit, Sheriff Magee DID ask first why the trucks were there. I believe that the same national guard commander did give him a phone number to call someone at FEMA to try to get the trucks. Four hours later, Magee goes to get the trucks because nobody at that phone number answered the phone. The national guard guy chuckled and said something to the extent that there was nobody at the number, and if someone was at that number, then they could not help him. That's when they took over the truck. and Thank God they did! It was a war zone here in Hattiesburg, and we were 80 miles from the Gulf Coast! Enough about New Orleans, what about us here in Mississippi? The storm did not even hit New Orleans, and New Orleans is not the Gulf Coast, it is on the Mouth of the Mississippi....
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Hattiesburg, MS : 1:10 PM ET
It's a shame that with all the coverage of the crimes being committed in New Orleans, the dozens of officers that deserted their jobs, etc, that we are going to crucify one sheriff for helping his community. Why are we not prosecuting FEMA for sitting on their hands waiting for some office nerd to sign the paperwork so they can issue the basic necessities? This sheriff did nothing wrong. He took an oath to serve his constituants, and was simply being a man of his word.
Posted By Anonymous Jeremy, Norfolk VA : 1:11 PM ET
We have been waiting for the nation to notice this story. When you make a judgement about this story, remember, this was days after Katrina and nothing had improved in the South Mississippi area. Billy McGee had diabetics in his area whose insulin was going bad due to ice and FEMA trucks sitting waiting to be told where to go. Billy tried every channel he knew before he took control of the trucks. The federal government should be thanking him. Billy McGee for Governor!
Posted By Anonymous Chris Wilkes, Hattiesburg, Ms : 1:17 PM ET
I live in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, several miles away from Camp Shelby. Thank you for recognizing Sheriff MCGee. People were suffering. Trees and debris were everywhere. There was no gas to get to the camp or other stations where ice and water were being distributed. We relied on each other, just for food and water, for days and weeks. People needed help. He saved lives.
Posted By Anonymous Theresa, Hattiesburg, Mississippi : 1:20 PM ET
My husband works for another law enforcement agency that teams up with Forrest Co. SO occasionally. Billy McGee has always done what he thought was right. This is just another example. Did anyone mention the five hours that were wasted while Billy tried to contact FEMA by phone. He tried to play by the book.
Posted By Anonymous sp Hattiesburg, MS : 1:27 PM ET
As a retired Marine I don't see the problem. At a time when every run of goverment was letting the people down, this man stepped in and did what had to be done. And did he take anything for himself, no he just became an extended FEMA rep and gave to his friends and families the thing they should have been getting.
Semper Fi
SSgt. Donald F. Trahan
USMC (Retire)
Posted By Anonymous Donlad Trahan, Gaithersburg, MD : 1:34 PM ET
I am totally amazed at this story. What is this world coming to? This man did what he HAD to do....BOTTOM LINE!!!! He is a true American hero!!
Posted By Anonymous Tiffany, Granite City, IL : 1:35 PM ET
Billy has been a friend of my family for many years and he only did what was right. I don't live in the area helped by him but if I did he would be immortalized not criticized. All the law in New Orleans did was take part in the looting or run scared... very few were man enough to stand up and do the job they were hired to do! If all this happened again I'd step up and help him take the trucks myself!
Posted By Anonymous Sharon Shaw, Hattiesburg, MS : 1:40 PM ET
As a resident of the area in question I feel that Sheriff McGee did not act within the bounds of his authority. No one, even a law enforcement official, is above the law. He is lucky the National Guardsman wasn't armed and willing to back his orders to the end, which some would have. So what then, shoot the soldier? Despite the poor showing by FEMA, at least things were being put in a central location, from there it was up to citizens to get to the distribution points. By taking the ice trucks to some other location it aided no one but those in that area. Which is fine if you were one of them, but those who received no help from this action, indeed may have been negatively impacted by it, have rights also. And it is not up to one official to determine how things should go. There were other cases where local people absconed with resources, can't say stole, but indeed took what they could get to help those in their immediate area. But again, if you weren't one of their 'fortunate sons' then it was of no help. Though I feel he did what he thought was right, he showed poor judgement.
Posted By Anonymous Charles Hattiesburg MS : 1:46 PM ET
I live in Forrest County, Mississippi. Every member of my family suffered significant losses as a result of Hurricane Katrina. My mother-in-law lost everything she had. While the National Media focused on the perils of New Orleans, miles and miles of beautiful coastline lay in waste. In resopnse, the people of my state rolled up their sleeves and went to work. We cleaned up to the best of our ability, shared the limited resources we had with our neighbors, and helped each other when we could. Hattiesburg, Mississippi suffered extensive damage as a result of Katrina because the right front quadrant of the storm hit us with the storm's most damaging winds. I no longer take certain things for granted -- ice, air conditioning, hot foods, hot showers, and family keepsakes. I drive by the FEMA staging area in Purvis on my way to work each day. I have seen undelivered trailers sinking slowly into the mud as families in need wait for shelter. A public school teacher, I personally know of several students in my district who are living in tents. I appreciate Sheriff McGee's concern for the citizens of my county and his willingness to display courage and determination in the wake of a terrible tragedy. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous C. Daniels, Petal, Mississippi : 1:50 PM ET
In this case, the federal government and state governments need to remember what our country's laws are based on: the rule OF law, and not rule BY law. History will judge those harshly who do not apply the rule OF law to this particular situation and the many heroic people who stood up and fought to help their fellow man after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Posted By Anonymous Natale Huntsville, AL : 3:57 PM ET
This story has been known by people in our area since Katrina. It is good to read all of the supportive and positive responses made by citizens from all across this country. And I am so grateful that this sheriff is now receiving national attention for his efforts during the storm. He is truly seen as a man of character and as someone who was just trying to do the right thing and help his fellow man.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Hattiesburg, MS : 4:25 PM ET
Its time we as Americans come down hard on Mexico. They are ruining our country. They do NOT respect any life whats so ever. Our military should be in Mexico not Iraq. Mexico is responsible, for drugs coming in, overcrowding of schools and hospitals.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Roseville, CA : 4:38 PM ET
You know, it's easy to label this fellow a "Hero" for getting help for his people, but what he did WAS against the law. And while he helped his own people, I can't help but wonder about those that the ice may have originally been intended for.

Furthermore, do we seriously want to set a standard of vigilantism in this country? What happens if 2 sherrifs from neighboring towns get the same idea? Who's constituents are more worthy? Each person feels he/she is most entitiled to the goods - but simply being self righteous doesn't make a person right. And the last thing I would like to see is violence over who gets to steal the goods in a "heroic" fashion (especially from the people who are charged with keeping the peace). And though the victor would be proclaimed a hero by his own people, he willing disregarded the well being of others.

That said, FEMA still dropped the ball, which put him in that awkward position to begin with. Though I'm sure the charges will eventually get dropped (too much public pressure), I almost wish he would be charged. Afterall, if you're man enough to take a Robin Hood style stand for the people, you should be equally man enough to face the penalties of your actions - good as the intention might have been.
Posted By Anonymous Hal Bryant, Orlando, FL : 4:45 PM ET
Having just yesterday interviewed a retired engineer who, with other volunteers, obtained and installed hundreds of water pumps for Katrina victims in Mississippi, I have to say that this sheriff is a hero. He did what he had to do. Calling FEMA's response to Katrina "anemic" is polite. FEMA was caught with its pants piled up around its ankles, and did precious little more than try to quickly LOOK like something was actually be accomplished. Without people like this sheriff to step in and take charge, the Katrina disaster would have been far, far worse for the survivors. There are still people down there living in horrible conditions. They still need help. Where is FEMA?
Posted By Anonymous Alicia C., Stokesdale, NC : 12:18 AM ET
First we have unqualified individuals collecting FEMA checks to spend on purses, cars and strip clubs and now this? Yet another fine way my tax money is being spent...thank you, Government. On another note, I'm moved at the compassion I'm reading on this blog from my fellow Americans. On behalf of Mississippi, Thank you. Not to take anything away from New Orleans, but there were other Katrina-affected areas. Life will never be back to normal for those of us in South Mississippi. Not one day goes by when a Katrina reference isn't made by someone. We are all still reeling from this disaster. Thanks to all of you for your heartfelt responses, prayers, thoughts and well wishes. Please don't forget about us.

Finally, Sheriff Magee did nothing wrong. Stop wasting my tax money, drop the charges and begin the construction of his statue near the courthouse.
Posted By Anonymous Haller, Hattiesburg, MS : 1:26 PM ET
The Gulf Coast is a 90,000 square mile crime scene for which no one has been held accountable. This man had the power, the compassion and the authority to do the right thing and he's treated like he caused the problems. Today's government is constantly figuring out how to incarcerate unsuspecting citizens and knowing all the problems we have they won't do a darn thing to help its own people. We need a way to empower the people and dispose of this wasteful, greedy, noncompassionate government we have today. During a time when everyone should be enjoying life, they make life for the multitudes suck and go on proudly as if they are well favored. They need to know they suck-slurpy, slurpy suck.
Posted By Anonymous Judalon Harris, Columbus, OH : 3:30 PM ET
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