Jack Rice - Blog

Jack Rice is a criminal defense trial lawyer who provides legal advice to those charged with crimes in Federal and Minnesota State courtrooms.


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Timberwolves Hurricane Relief Flight

As I sit in my seat in the back of the airplane heading down toward Baton Rouge, I wonder what I will face. It is easy to talk about refugees, evacuees, Americans, when you talk about them in the abstract, by the thousands. It is a whole other game to look a homeless mother in the face as she holds her crying baby. And yet, I know that one voice at a time is the only way to tell a story.

As we travel, Kevin McCale walks back toward the back of the plane. As I watch, it becomes abundantly clear that commercial planes are not built for guys like this. Kinda like me sitting at my 7 year old dauther Bella's desk at school during teacher conferences. Look how his head scrapes the ceiling even as he stoops.

As we arrive at the Interdenominational Faith Assembly Hurricane Shelter, I quickly see the enormity of the problem. Hundreds and hundreds of people wait for help. It is in the nineties and very humid and yet, people have waited for hours for the supplies that this relief flight will provide. These people need everything. Food, clothing, toiletpaper. And yet, they wait for hour after hour in lines that stretch around the building and out under the hot sun. And not a complaint do I hear, just plenty of "thank you"s.

Her name is Paula and she is one of the funniest people I have ever met. She is from the 9th Ward in New Orleans and has lost everything, I mean everything. . . except her family, her dignity and her sense of humor.
She sits on a bed in the middle of what appears to be chaos. At least 700 people are surrounding us. As I approach her, she smiles.
"Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" I ask.
"Come and have a seat on my bed baby and we can talk."
You can tell she is messing with me.
I come to learn that she and her family have been in this shelter for three and a half weeks. She acknowledges her losses. And yet, you can see the strength and determination and yes, humor, in her eyes.
She says that she would offer me some ice tea but, referring to the 700 people around us, "a few uninvited guests have arrived." We both laugh out loud.

Deputy Clifton Sanford of the Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office is a former Marine who was in the Gulf during the first Gulf War. His optimism and his religious conviction seem to pull him through any difficulty. As he puts it, "this small city has seen more than 200,000 people come through her in the last two weeks alone." Imagine trying to police that!

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