Approximately 80 people, including Ward I City Council member David Clarked, marched from Adams Morgan to Mt. Pleasant last weekend to protest evictions, rent increases and the lack of jobs in the two communities.
The march was sponsored by the We Won't Move Coalition, a group that is trying to organize tenants' associations and community groups. Marchers carried signs reading, "Save Our Neighorhood," "Save Our Homes," We Won't Move" and "if We fight Together We Shall Not Be Defeated."
Clarke and several area tenants first spoke at a rally in the Adams Mill Road tract of land known to many local residents as Community Park West. They discussed rent increases, evictions and unemployment. Speakers urged the city to buy the privately owned Shapiro tract, in which they rallied, for recreational use by residents.
"We have to begin to create low-and moderate-income housing. We have to push for a Housing Finance Act," said Clarke.
The D. C. City Council has three bills in committee, each of which would create some form of housing finance agency that could sell bonds and use the money to make housing loans.
Clarke also favored the Shapiro tract acquisition. He pointed out that "the City Council voted in 1975 to buy this land for a park," and blamed Congress for the delay, calling the situation "home fool." The purchase has been held up because the controversy over building a convention center has delayed the approval of the city's budget.
Chanting "We Won't Move," "Jobs or Income Now" and "Save the park," the marchers moved along Adams Mill Road to Columbia Road and Mt. Pleasant Street, gathering a few supporters along the way. They stopped briefly at Unity Park, at Columbia Road and Champlain Street NW for more speeches.
Walter Pierce, director of the Ontario Lakers, a youth sports club in Adams Morgan, said he was marching "to get the park, for jobs, for better living conditions and for all the ills affecting poor people in this city."
The marchers came from several groups - the We Won't Move Coalition, the Mintwood Tenants Association, the Adams Morgan Organization, the 2630 Adams Mill Road tenants group, D.C. Unite to Fight Back, the Mt. Pleasant Neighbors, the Ontario Lakers, the D. C. Jobs or Income Now Coal120 ition and the kenesaw Apartments.
The Won't Move Coalition, in a leaflet distributed in the Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods, charged that "every day in this community houses and apartment buildings are being bought up by wealthy speculators and the tenants are being thrown out into the streets. . . The banks, the city and the streets are working hand-in-hand to turn this area into another Georgetown."
Some protesters brought their babies and small children, while others helped elderly marchers in the seven-block wall.
Gretchen Young, a resident of the Adams Morgan area for 12 years, said she and others from her building were marching because, "We don't want to leave our neighborhood. We love it here and don't want to be forced out."
Young said she has lived at the Mintwood Apartments at 1843 Mintwood Place NW for 10 years. Tenants there are facing evictions because the new owners plan to renovate the building extensively and to leave it vacant for more than six months. The owners have refused to discuss their long-range plans for the building.
Saver Morell, who is in his early 80s, said he was m120arching 'because I have to do my part to get the things we're after. We don't want to move. We want to stay here." Morell also is being evicted from the Mintwood, where he has lived for 15 years.
Emerson Traylor, a member of D. C. Flight Back, said, "People need jobs, especially in this neighorhood. We're tired of people being forced out - blacks in Northeast and Hispanics here. We have to fight back."
At the end of the march on Mt. Pleasant Street there were more speeches. Marty Wolfson, another member of D. C. Fight Back, accused Congress and the federal and city governments of formulating "a plan to move blacks and Latinos out of D. C. Real estate speculators, landlords, the (Metropolitan Washington) Board of Trade and big money people are behind it," he charged," and the city government is carrying out the plans."