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Armed Security Forces Terrorize Brookland Manor Community

Developer Mid-City Financial's hired, armed security forces continue to escalate harassment and intimidation at Brookland Manor in Northeast Washington, DC, where Mid-City is attempting to install a luxury redevelopment plan at the expense of hundreds of working class black families and residents. Last month, on October 14, security guards toting guns disrupted public order when they forced their way into Ms. Ada Harris's apartment, without a warrant, and assaulted her guest Mr. Shawn Robinson, a member of the community who was born and raised at Brookland Manor.

Mr. Robinson was forced outside, handcuffed, and maced twice in the face, in front of MPD officers who were also on the scene. Security guards claimed that Mr. Robinson had a "barring notice" against him. Upon looking at his ID, it became clear that Mr. Robinson did not in fact have any barring notice against him. He was released without explanation from the offending officers.


Mr. Shawn Robinson, during the assault by armed security, in the presence of MPD officers at Brookland Manor.


Brookland Manor tenant whose unit was entered without notice or permission, Ms. Ada Harris, has repeatedly requested a report on the incident from property management. To-date, Ms. Harris has received no report explaining why her privacy was violated, nor has she received any formal, written apology. When interviewed about the incident, Ms. Harris said, "I'm asking them what's going on, me as being the tenant, and they didn't respond to me...I have a hole in my wall, and the lock was broken on my door."

Ms. Harris went on to say, "I feel like our rights have totally been violated. Totally. Because it makes it seem like we're in jail, we're in prison - like we have no rights. And it's sad, because some of the older people come out just to get some fresh air and stuff, and they're saying stuff to them...talking to us like we're animals, like we're dogs or something."

When I interviewed Mr. Robinson about the incident, he explained, "They came into the apartment without knocking, and and they maced me and had me in handcuffs...I couldn't understand what was their protocol...to come into somebody's house and just terrorize the house like they are a swat team."

I asked Mr. Robinson if he had received a formal apology or any kind of paperwork, and he responded, "I didn't get anything. And I asked for the paperwork that day. They acted like it never happened. And then two or three days after it, they put the same guy on the site that maced me. So I didn't understand that whole situation...it feels like a prison...To be humiliated like that, with handcuffs, with mace in my face for over half an hour...it feels like I was being raped, like who I am I?...It's not right for them to dictate who visits tenants...They're telling your own mother, 'get off the front, get off the gate'...that's why I'm coming to you, we need help, we need to explore this situation."


Mr. Shawn Robinson during an interview outside of the building at Brookland Manor, where he was assaulted by armed security.


As a ONE DC housing organizer working with tenants at Brookland Manor, I have been harassed on three different occasions by private security, including two days ago, on Tuesday, November 14th, when I was approached by three armed security guards while talking to tenants and their children on Saratoga avenue. We were told that we are not allowed to "congregate." I explained that we were well within our rights, in accordance with the tenants right to organize law, and additionally, we were not blocking passage on the sidewalk, and are therefore allowed to stand and talk outside.

One of the officers, who had a mask on her face, aggressively demanded to see my ID, and insisted that we were blocking passage, though it was clear to all who were present, that we were not in fact blocking passage. I refused to show my ID, and the masked officer had to be subdued by her fellow officers.

At the time, Michael Meers, executive at Mid-City Financial, happened to be walking in the neighborhood, and I openly brought to his attention the violation of the officers. The aggressive officer walked away, and the two remaining officers approached me and offered an apology and assurance that it would not happen again. Michael Meers stated, "not everyone that's here is peaceful," in an attempt to justify the security's conduct. Just a few minutes later, I witnessed the same three armed officers harassing a woman standing alone at the bus stop, because her arm was on the fence.

Additionally, security officers at Brookland Manor have an SUV that they are jumping out of to enforce the "community rules," which include not leaning on the fence. Their behavior has repeatedly been described by tenants as terrorizing and enforcing prison-like conditions on the community.

We thank our members and supporters for your ongoing solidarity with tenants at Brookland Manor, as they continue to be subjected to shocking assaults by the security arm that does the bidding of Mid-City Financial, relentlessly carrying out a displacement campaign. This displacement campaign is a continuation of what has been previously documented by the Washington Post, and by the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, in order to make way for Mid-City's planned luxury redevelopment.

We ask that the DC community continue to stand with residents and families at Brookland Manor who are fighting displacement, and fighting to live in peace in their community. You can express your continued support by forwarding this update to Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie at kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, or by calling him at 202-724-8028 to demand that he immediately end his support for predatory developer Mid-City Financial, and express public support for the reasonable and viable demands of the Brookland Manor Residents Association:

  1. The Preservation of the 535 units of affordable housing that currently exist on site at the current bedroom sizes and current subsidy levels;
  2. The right of tenants to remain on the property during the process of redevelopment (redevelopment in phases to prevent any displacement) i.e.: build first;
  3. The right for tenants to access employment opportunities through the rebuilding of their own community, which they have a fundamental right to be a part of.

Yasmina Mrabet
Housing Organizer, ONE DC

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ONE DC Teach-In Ft. Congressman Keith Ellison

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Join ONE DC for a teach-in with Congressman Keith Ellison and others at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on November 13th! Click here to RSVP on the Facebook page, and click here to get your tickets on Eventbrite.

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Glyn Robbins at Busboys & Poets

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Come to Busboys & Poets for the launch of Glyn Robbins' book "There's No Place: The American Housing Crisis and What It Means for the UK." There will be a discussion of his work about the housing crisis, and specifically on the crisis in DC and his chapter in the book on it. Click here to RSVP and for more information!

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The Russian Revolution: 100 Year Commemoration

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First Domestic Workers Workshop

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Please come join us for the FIRST ever gathering of Domestic Workers in DC. If you are currently, or have ever been a domestic worker, please plan on attending this convening on Saturday October 28th from 11:30AM-3:30PM at St. Stephen's Church of the Incarnation. ONE DC is also looking for members who wish to volunteer with us on that day through tabling or a workshop about the BWC. Please email us at bwc@onedconline.org if you are interested.

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Historically Black DC Paper Publishes Article Supporting Displacement of Black Families

Historically Black DC paper, the Washington Informer, has published an article that supports a plan for gentrification, and the displacement of hundreds of Black families from Northeast Washington, DC.

The article is co-written by Thaddeus James and Kim Edwards, both of whom reside at Brookland Manor. James and Edwards are actively working with wealthy developer Mid-City Financial to support a redevelopment plan that will require the mass displacement of long-time, working class Black DC residents from our community in the name of profit. If you question the profit motive, look no further than this WAMU interview with daughter of Mid-City CEO Eugene Ford Jr, Maddie Ford, also Mid-City's director of legal affairs, who stated, “The smaller the unit size, the more people you can have there, the more money you can get per unit...The smaller your units are, the more profitable they are.”

In the article, Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie is hailed as a supporter of the community, when in fact, he has demonstrated quite the opposite. McDuffie stands with developer Mid-City Financial, supporting their plan to profit from the displacement of his own constituents. In a recent mock people's trial, McDuffie was found guilty of crimes against our community, the evidence of which is documented in this 7-minute video presentation.

Mid-City's plan to move forward with the reduction of affordable housing units is sanctioned by city officials like McDuffie, and the DC Zoning Commission, in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and skyrocketing rents in the nation's capital.

To facilitate their plan, Mid-City has egregiously engaged in a brutal eviction campaign that is ongoing. Previously, the Washington Post, along with many other media outlets, have exposed Mid-City's ongoing actions. The Neighborhood Legal Services Program, in a letter submitted to the zoning commission, documented Mid-City's ongoing eviction campaign.

Currently, Mid-City is engaging in aggressive attempts to harass and intimidate residents of Brookland Manor. Shockingly, Mid-City is issuing notices of infraction as a basis for evicting tenants for sitting outside in our own community. One resident, Ms. Jennifer Sewell, faces ongoing harassment and intimidation by Mid-City for sitting outside. Here is a photo example from recent infraction she was issued, showing her "violation."


Mid-City is now using these infractions as grounds to attempt to evict Ms. Sewell from her home. We have assisted Ms. Sewell in securing an attorney to represent her in this matter.

Recently, Mid-City issued letters to us that restrict access to community spaces. We understand this move to be a part of their ongoing attempts to interfere with our right to organize. We ask the wider DC community to continue to stand with the families fighting Mid-City's predatory redevelopment plan, by increasing public exposure of, and pressure on, council member Kenyan McDuffie for his role in our suffering.


We, the tenants at Brookland Manor that are fighting to save affordable housing and family housing in our community, will continue to expose Mid-City's attempts to "divide and conquer" our community, and we will continue to fight the attempts by Mid-City to intimidate and harass us.

Minnie Elliott
President, Brookland Manor Residents Association

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Link Up for Black August

By Angie Whitehurst

For our monthly People's Platform political education event, ONE DC held "Link Up for Black August" at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Black August is a month of commemoration of the death of George Jackson on August 21st, 1971. The day is remembered to encourage social justice versus injustice throughout society.

Speakers and participants included Mia Clark, Eugene Puryear, Delonte Wilkins, Yasmina Mrabet, and Dominic Moulden; all of whom spoke passionately on the needs to change housing injustices, restorative programs for those incarcerated, and the Black Workers Center mandate to create a space where people can find "real jobs."

Raven Best and Reverend Erik Martinez Resley of The Sanctuaries, with a young team of printmakers, produced Black August posters on site as giveaways to attendees. Pop-up shops included EAT, The Difference Boutique, Cockee Clothing, and the Young Queen Project selling hats and shirts. Local caterer Peggy's Gourmet & Reek the Chef provided excellent food. Sounds were brought by DJ Say Say, with performances by Loony Goonz, King Shug, Supa Trippa, G.R.O.S.S. LIFE, & Visto of Hippe Life Krew.  Other organizations present were Our City DC, SURJ DC and organizers with the People's Congress of Resistance.

Also present were members of the cast from the upcoming production entitled, "The Arsonists," a play about the challenges of liberal politics some fifty years ago. The story sounds very similar to our current day events. ONE DC members and supporters are eligible for discount tickets to the performance on October 7th using code "ONEDC"

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ONE DC Monthly Voice - August 2017

 

“Black August is a month of divine meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”
-Mumia Abu-Jamal


Win Congress Heights Now!

Tenants at Congress Heights have been fighting slumlord Sanford Capital, who has been working with the Mayor’s office and city planning agencies to displace tenants, eliminate affordable housing, and build luxury apartments at Congress Heights. Because tenants have been fighting to exercise their rights, they have not yet been displaced. In fact, they have found a non-profit developer they can work with to build 200 units of affordable housing INSTEAD of the luxury apartments that the city and slumlord Sanford Capital wanted. The only barrier standing between tenants and 200 new units of affordable housing is a vacant building at 3200 13th St SE, which is at the corner of their property and is currently under control of the DC government.

On September 6th at 10:00 AM, join tenants for a press conference and rally outside of the Wilson Building to demand Mayor Bowser turn the 3200 property over to the residents!

At the community forum led by residents this Tuesday, Ms Ruth Barnwell, president of the Congress Heights Tenants Association, had this to say: "Hell no, we won’t go. You will continue to hear our voices and feel our fury and strength until you do as you promised the people when you were asking for our votes – to give affordable housing to the people. You will be gone before we will. We demand Mayor Bowser give the residents 3200 13th Street SE so we can create affordable housing for our community.”  Watch what two Congress Heights residents, Ms. Ruth Barnwell and Ms. Gloria Ward, had to say here and here.

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Click here to RSVP


Link Up for Black August

By Angie Whitehurst, ONE DC member

For our monthly People's Platform political education event, ONE DC held "Link Up for Black August" at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Black August is a month of commemoration of the death of George Jackson on August 21st, 1971. The day is remembered to encourage social justice versus injustice throughout society.

Speakers and participants included Mia Clark, Eugene Puryear, Delonte Wilkins, Yasmina Mrabet, and Dominic Moulden; all of whom spoke passionately on the needs to change housing injustices, restorative programs for those incarcerated, and the Black Workers Center mandate to create a space where people can find "real jobs."

Raven Best and Reverend Erik Martinez Resley of The Sanctuaries, with a young team of printmakers, produced Black August posters on site as giveaways to attendees. Pop-up shops included EAT, The Difference Boutique, Cockee Clothing, and the Young Queen Project selling hats and shirts. Local caterer Peggy's Gourmet & Reek the Chef provided excellent food. Sounds were brought by DJ Say Say, with performances by Loony Goonz, King Shug, Supa Trippa, G.R.O.S.S. LIFE, & Visto of Hippe Life Krew.  Other organizations present were Our City DC, SURJ DC and organizers with the People's Congress of Resistance.

Also present were members of the cast from the upcoming production entitled, " The Arsonist," a play about the challenges of liberal politics some fifty years ago. The story sounds very similar to our current day events. ONE DC members and supporters are eligible for discount tickets to the performance on October 7th (more info below).

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Photo Credit: O. Michael Leslie

Click here to RSVP for September People's Platform
.
We need your support keep the movement going! Click here to sponsor.


Sunkissed Sundown featuring Talib Kweli: A Benefit Concert for ONE DC

TK_SKSD_final.pngFund the movement while you move at the Sunkissed Sundown benefit concert this Friday September 1st at the Howard Theatre! Featuring Talib Kweli with Jessica Care Moore, Alex Vaughn, Afrah Ali, Odd Mojo and Kinfolk. Proceeds go to ONE DC, Energy Justice Network, & Restaurant Opportunities Center DC.

Click here to purchase your ticket!


Build the People's Congress of Resistance

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"Without a revolutionary vision, change will not take a revolutionary direction. Resistance will remain rudderless, an exercise in activism for its own sake, or it will be co-opted into a vessel for the political elites. A vision for social, economic and political revolution is necessary. We need to know where we want to go. Our vision ties our actions to our goal by showing us what we are mobilizing for. It guides us in coordinating our strategies and tactics. It helps us build collective strength. Our vision tells us how we can win and that we will win.

A society organized for the equality and emancipation of the many is one where production is democratically directed for the benefit of the many and not for the private profit of the few. Rather than banks and corporations determining people’s lives and futures, the people determine their destiny themselves." -Manifesto of the People's Congress of Resistance

Join volunteers and organizers with the People's Congress of Resistance this Saturday for a day of citywide outreach! Teams will come to the Justice Center at 617 Florida Ave NW at Saturday, 12 noon and go out to build awareness about the inaugural People's Congress taking place Sept. 16-17 at Howard University.

The events of the past month demonstrate vividly the need for a true political revolution that replaces the power of the billionaires, war-makers, corrupt politicians and white supremacists with the power of the people. In Charlottesville, VA, white supremacists and fascists marched against the Black community, and armed forces of the state stood idly by as they violently attacked. In Texas, the government offered no significant evacuation plan — just a directive — for the millions of poor and working people prior to Hurricane Harvey, and now hundreds of thousands are in a dire state. Meanwhile, here in D.C. politicians that campaign on "affordable housing" immediately become the handmaidens for racist displacement.

While Trump and the U.S. Congress attack the people from every angle, the People’s Congress of Resistance will be a place where organizers of diverse struggles come together to provide a unified vision and coordinated strategies and tactics to fight back. Everyone in D.C. needs to hear about this historic event. Help us spread the word!

Click here to register for the conference September 16th-17th. If you cannot afford your registration fee and would like to attend for free as a ONE DC member, please contact Claire at ccook@onedconline.org or 202.232.2915.


$100 from 10,000 Supporters to Fund the Black Workers Center

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Do you share our vision for a community-controlled space in DC? Click here to donate.
Are you interested in helping us raise $100 from each of the 10,000 supporters in our database? Email Dominic at dmoulden@onedconline.org


 

Upcoming Events

 

Anti-Gentrification Housing Struggles in Los Angeles & Berlin
Thursday, August 31 - 6:00 PM
The Potter's House - 1658 Columbia Rd NW
Minority and immigrant communities and their mobilizations play a pivotal role challenging the ongoing nationalist political shifts right in the United States and Germany, which have been propagating xenophobia, racism, and economic, political, and social isolationism. In this historic configuration, housing serves as a central site of struggle, as a fundamental human right.
Click here to RSVP


¡Un canto por la Paz en Venezuela! A song for peace in Venezuela
Thursday, August 31 - 6:30 PM
Bolivarian Hall - 2443 Massachusetts Ave NW
Join us for an evening of live music, poetry and conversation about the situation in Venezuela, its Constitutional Assembly and the opportunities for peace in the country. Featuring César Guarcax, Xavier Bure, Patricio Zamorano, Ricardo Gallardo, Luci Murphy & the ONE DC Black Workers Center Chorus!
Click here to RSVP

ONE DC Member & Volunteer Orientation
Wednesday, September 6 - 6:00 PM
New Community Church - 614 S St NW
We welcome all supporters of ONE DC, whether long-time members or new volunteers, to join us for our next Member Orientation to learn about the history & structure of ONE DC, our mission, vision, & values, and find out how you can engage in our work.
Click here to RSVP


Pack The Room: WMATA Board Meeting
Thursday, September 28 - 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority - 600 5th St NW
With the next WMATA budget season looming, riders are worried that the system will keep getting worse. Join us at WMATA's August Board Meeting to demand that the WMATA Board holds a public meeting for community dialogue on the next budget at a time that is most convenient for riders. The WMATA Board meetings once a month and while they do allow for public testimony, the meetings are not accessible since they take place on Thursday mornings while many riders are at work.
Click here to RSVP

March for Racial Justice
Saturday, September 30 - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
National Mall
Our mission is to harness the national unrest and dissatisfaction with racial injustice into a national mobilization that strengthens local and nationwide efforts for racial equity and justice. We are mobilizing a coalition of organizations, groups and individuals to stand together for racial justice on September 30 in Washington, DC. We invite you to stand with us. Our vision is simple: to create a just and equitable future for communities of color, so that we may all thrive together.
Click here to RSVP & for more info

THE ARSONISTS
Saturday, October 7 - 9AM - 12 PM
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company - 641 D St NW
Join us after the October 7th performance of The Arsonists for a community conversation with ONE DC organizer Yasmina Mrabet. Use code "ONEDC" to purchase discounted tickets to the show!
Click here for more info & to purchase tickets


ONE Bit of Good News

Our membership goal for 2017 is to reach 500 total members and 200 paid members. We are excited to report we are 75% to our goal with 149 amazing members having paid their dues this year, bringing our total membership to 398!
Help us reach our goal this year by paying your 2017 membership dues here!


Do you want to be a writer, editor, or designer for the ONE DC Monthly Voice? Email organizer@onedconline.org

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The Struggle at Dahlgreen Courts

In 2011, Dahlgreen Courts residents exercised their rights under D.C.’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (also known as TOPA) to purchase the two-building, 96 unit historic complex in partnership with a Philadelphia-based non-profit developer, Mission First Housing Group. Built in the 1920s, the complex was in dire need of rehabilitation. After almost six years since the completion of this 20 million-dollar renovation, residents are organizing again to hold the city and Mission First, the non-profit developer who “renovated” the complex, accountable for more than 150 housing code violations the residents are forced to live under.

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Tenant Association Vice-President Vaughn Bennett, ONE DC housing organizer
Yasmina Mrabet & Tenant Association President Leon Lightfoot

Officials have tried to use the common practice of bureaucracy to avoid the demands of residents and the Dahlgreen Courts Tenants Association. DCRA relinquished responsibility of the housing violations of paint peeling and cracked wall it cited to the DC Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE). The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), DC Housing Finance Agency (HFA), and Ward 5 council member, Kenyan McDuffie have opted to protect Mission First from claiming responsibility for the mess it has created, rather than answer to the complaints of the residents they have been placed in office to answer to.

These circumstances are why Bennett says the DCTA, ONE DC, and other committed individuals and organizations are seeking justice by demanding an investigation, potentially filing of criminal charges, and a civil suit against Mission First. Furthermore, Bennett says that residents are actively seeking a law firm to represent them in filing a lawsuit against Mission First Housing Group for fraud and breach of contract.

DCTA and residents like Vaughn Bennett show how vital it is for residents to organize in order to preserve livable conditions and affordable housing in the city. Bennett hopes his work “can inspire others and teach our children how to fight oppression.”

Even though, after significant pressure through a joint tenants action, council member Kenyan McDuffie recently sent a letter to the Dahlgreen Courts Tenants Association in response to their demands, it is yet to be determined whether or not Mission First will truly be held accountable. Additionally, the Dahlgreen Courts Tenants Association is concerned over the redevelopment plans at Brookland Manor, and other gentrification projects in the Rhode Island Avenue area. ONE DC members and supporters across the city won't back down until the tenants at Dahlgreen Courts receive the proper renovations they deserve, and until the various city agencies and the developers they serve are held accountable for their actions against the public.

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Metro: Profits Over People

Below is a speech given by Ms J at the Transit Justice Rally with the Save Our System Coalition on June 29, 2017.

Good evening. My name is Jourgette Reid-Sillah. I am a resident of the District of Columbia and a patron of Metro Access. Before I became a MA rider I would see the vans everywhere and think isn’t that nice that Metro is seeing that those people who can’t access the bus have service. In fact Metro isn’t doing anything out of the goodness of their heart. It is the law that requires that the service be provided for persons with disabilities. Now I am one of “those people” I have a better idea of how things work. Metro Access are private companies that contract with Metro to provide the service. As we know all know the goal of a private company is to make a profit. Metro Access’s goal is to make money, Profit over people.

If it is more profitable for a client to wait passed the 30 minute window, profit wins.
If it is more profitable for a client to remain on a van more than 2 hours, profit wins.
If it is more profitable to have a GPS system that is programed to take a longer route, profit wins.

I have personally experienced being on the van with another client. We both live in SEDC. I am going to NWDC and the other client is going to Hyattsville. Although I was to be dropped off first the other client was going to her dialysis appointment and would be late. I heard her ask the dispatcher “Will Metro Access be able to return the minutes of life I may lose for having to get off the machine early when MA comes to pick me up?” This is a life issue for many of the clients that use this service. Profits over people. Please note that even though MA clients are persons with disabilities MANY work every day. Many for both State and Federal governments. In case you are wondering we do not ride for free. Each trip requires a pre-determined fair that is calculated by some “algorithm” that causes your fair to change. This can be a challenge to those on a fixed income. While Metro Access picks profit over people many clients must decide life over death. Which would you choose?

I am a member of ONE DC, an organization that believes in equitable situations for all peoples. The People's Platform Manifesto speaks of having access to safe and affordable transportation so that we can travel between our homes, jobs, schools and recreational spaces.

 

 

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