On the 20th of June at 10AM, DC Dept of Public Works trashed and removed tents and other property of homeless people camping under the railroad overpasses on K and L sts NE around 1st st NE. A construction project is going up between K and L sts just west of the tracks, the Washingon Post reports this is condos and rationalized the attack with a claim that yuppies were walking in the streets to avoid interacting with the homeless.
The Washington Post reprinted claims that “safety” was the reason for this raid, but this is at least the fourth such raid on a homeless tent city from Mayor Bowser. The first one was in Rock Creek Park near Va Ave back in Nov 2015 and that tent city was nearly out of sight unless people were looking for it. This site was re-raided at least once after people returned. The second target was campers along 1st st NE itself near Union Station. Now further back from Union Station campers under the overpasses have been hit.
It is very clear that the purpose of this assault on a homeless camp is to make way for the condos under construction, and to ensure that rich, mostly white “New Washingtonians” do not have to approach homeless people of color to cross beneath the Metro and Amtrak rails. This kind of behavior by the city has exploded under Mayor Bowser, and has earned her comparisons to the explicitly racist Donald Trump.
In all of Bowser’s tent city raids, DPW posted warning signs about “general cleanup” scheduled for the area to at least give those who can find another spot time to move. Then when anyone could not or would not move, the main thrust of the assault was use of trash collectors to dispose of people’s belongings while police stood by to ensure there was no resistance.The Washington Post called the July 20th raid “peaceful” but it was about as peaceful as demanding someone’s wallet while a buddy in a uniform holds a gun to your target’s head. The use of “trash collection” as a rationale for confiscating and throwing away the property of the homeless implies that it is not just the belongings of the homeless but the homeless themselves that the Mayor regards as garbage.
The Mayor’s folks have advised the newly-displaced tent city residents to check into shelters, but they are always full, often have entry requirements such as bag searches, and tent city residents complained that the shelters are infested with bedbugs. There is the risk of course that Ms Bowser will use that complaint as a justification for closing down shelters too. Shelter closings are also part of the gentrification strategy, just as homeless sweeps of any kind are. When former Mayor Williams settled on O and S Cap as the location for the Washington Nationals baseball stadium, along with eminent domain against all local businesses one of his first moves was to close the former homeless shelter in Randall School. This shelter was just too close to the baseball stadium, and any other reason for its closing defied logic in the face of that. Now we are seeing the same behavior from Mayor Bowser, this time for luxury condominium construction.
Here we have a condo project started right next to where the Mayor ordered trash collectors to remove another homeless tent city
Not just people’s property regarded as trash it seems