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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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:
- The Preservation of the 535 units of affordable housing that currently exist on site at the current bedroom sizes and current subsidy levels;
- 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;
- 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.
Housing Organizer, ONE DC