Residents of Deanwood in Northeast formed a human chain across a busy intersection yesterday to protest living conditions in the area.
The afternoon demonstration, organized by members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), blocked the intersection at Minnesota and Nannie Helen Burroughs avenues for more than 30 minutes. No arrests were reported.
About 60 protesters who live in the Ward 7 neighborhood toted placards with drawings of rats and hypodermic needles. Others carried photographs of some of the abandoned lots and buildings there that are strewn with trash. Several chanted, “What do we want? Action. When do we want it? Now.”
“We have so many vacant lots and buildings, abandoned cars, trash, drugs and prostitution. And we’ve asked Kevin Chavous to clean up this place. I’ve been here eight years, and nothing’s changed,” said Queen Parks, an ACORN member. Mr. Chavous, Ward-7 Democrat, is a D.C. Council member.
Mrs. Parks said Deanwood residents do not receive basic city services such as trash pickup, bulk trash removal, rat extermination and removal of abandoned vehicles.
“So, we’re bringing this out into the open for the world to see. We’re tired of it,” she said.
Mr. Chavous did not attend the rally and could not be reached for comment.
ACORN, a national community advocacy group for low- and moderate-income families, is partially funded with taxpayer dollars. It claims more than 120,000 member families in its 600 neighborhood chapters in 45 cities nationwide.
Motorists slowed yesterday to look at a 14-foot inflatable rat that rally organizers placed near the heavily traveled intersection.
“The rodent problem exists because of the abandoned lots [full of garbage]. Ever since the Barry-era ‘Clean or Lien’ was discontinued, the government does not follow up,” said ACORN member Aaron Ross, 51, a lifelong Deanwood resident.
Blaring car horns and community activists on bullhorns got the attention of 6th District police, who rushed to the intersection to disperse the group.
“We’ve never seen that many police [here], and I’ve lived here since 1977,” said Sherman Keith, 67, a retired government employee. “The conditions over here are pitiful. Vacant lots that have never been cleaned since Kevin Chavous has been in office and the rats. … You wouldn’t believe it.”