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Tomorrow, a block party will go off at 7th and S Streets just north of the Shaw metro station: Food, games, face painting, the works. But this isn’t your average summer Saturday neighborhood bash.
The eating and playing will take place on Parcel 33, a piece of land now slated for a development that will house the United Negro College Fund. At 4:00 p.m., the tone will shift, with a press conference highlighting the pernicious effects of gentrification and displacement. Then, the party shifts to 7th and R, an empty lot known as Parcel 42, where the community justice organization OneDC intends to set up a tent city to protest the dramatically scaled-down development now on the table. After years of working with the Fenty administration, they see the reduced number of affordable units now planned for the site as a broken promise to provide 94 apartments affordable at or below 50 percent of the area median income.
Things could get rowdy.
“We expect a major police presence, as is often the case when the poor and homeless speak up for themselves,” a mass e-mail to supporters reads. “IT MAY EVEN BECOME QUITE CONFRONTATIONAL, TO SAY THE LEAST.”
The event is being co-hosted by Take Back the Land, a national group that has executed takeovers of empty and foreclosed houses in cities from Miami to Portland, arguing that bank-owned properties really belong to the taxpayers who bailed them out. OneDC and TBTL aren’t planning similar actions for D.C.—but the tent city carries the same message.