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D.C. police arrested one person late this morning near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and W Street SE in Anacostia as several people demonstrated against a bus tour for companies involved in development.

April Goggans, a local Black Lives Matter activist, posted a video on Youtube depicting several Metropolitan Police Department officers detaining at least two people at the location. A group had gathered there to protest against a bus tour “to learn about economic growth” in Anacostia, the Southwest Waterfront, and Capital Riverfront sponsored by the Washington Business Journal and the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership. Activism group Empower DC called it “a city-sponsored gentrification tour.”

Calls to WBJ and WDCEP earlier this afternoon have not been returned.

An MPD spokesperson said “one person was arrested in this incident for blocking passage.” An initial police report states that the man arrested was “given several verbal commands to leave the roadway.” An MPD officer “conducted a stop of [the man] without incident,” the report states. A second person “attempted to approach MPD officers, at which time officers on the scene conducted a stop, identified [the woman] ‘verbally,’ and sent [the woman] on her way.”

On Twitter, Goggans alleged that police illegally searched protestors and used unnecessary force. City Desk has reached out to her for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

A longer video of the demonstration appeared on Black Lives Matter DC’s Facebook page. In it, the woman who was later detained stands with a megaphone in front of the tour bus and can be heard shouting, “This is our home!…We from here, we gonna stay here!…They tear down our housing and they build businesses that are not for us!”

“Gentrification is a crime,” she adds, shouting at the riders to “get off the bus.”

Update 3:45 p.m.: Parisa Norouzi, the executive director of Empower DC, says she spoke with Public Housing Organizer Schyla Pondexter-Moore, who is the woman depicted holding the megaphone and being held by police in both videos, respectively. Though Norouzi did not attend this morning’s protest, she says Pondexter-Moore told her that her son was the person officers arrested on “blocking passage” charges.

“They weren’t really sure what happened,” Norouzi says. “The next thing you know police were slamming him against a car; they had a knee in his back at one point. It looks like excessive police force from what we can tell so far and it looks like his right to peacefully protest was not protected.”

Pondexter-Moore was unavailable to comment because she was visiting her son at a police station, Norouzi added, noting that the organizer’s son may have “reacted” to police when he saw them handling his mother. Norouzi says today’s demonstration wasn’t the first time Empower DC has protested against “space-finding tours” for developers. Last year, the group blocked a bus being driven through nearby Barry Farm.

“Some of our members have even called it a ‘gentrification safari,'” the executive director notes. “[Tourists] go through the neighborhood without talking with the community to see what they’d like to see developed, and it has the same result: displacement of the people who have been there. A lot of our members feel like Barry Farm and Anacostia is the last frontier. We have to draw a line in the sand and uplift our residents.”

Norouzi adds that the group will consult with attorneys to review whether it seems wise to file a complaint against the District for how officers managed Tuesday’s demonstration. Asked what she would say to those who watched the videos and questioned the efficacy of the action, Norouzi says “it’s effective if it’s making people talk about” displacement in the District. Empower DC has also striven to draw attention to the issue at D.C. Council hearings and community meetings, she says, but such channels often don’t produce results.

“I expect [the charge] should be thrown out because this was a First Amendment rights protest,” Norouzi explains.

Update 4:50 p.m.: Doug Fruehling, WBJ‘s editor-in-chief, said in a statement to City Desk that the goal of the cosponsored bus tours is “to highlight opportunities in D.C. neighborhoods for investment.”

“We believe investment will only serve to make D.C.’s great neighborhoods even better—the same approach we take to business partnerships and editorial coverage in the rest of the region,” Fruehling said. “We welcome the opinions of those who oppose investment and development in their neighborhoods or who want to have a say in what gets developed in there. We also support their right to express those opinions peacefully and participate in the entitlement process for development.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery