Alexandria City Council members this week used unusually strong language to criticize remarks made at a meeting earlier this week, where the city reportedly was accused of racism in its efforts to replace old public housing projects.
The council informally endorsed a two-page written statement by council member Marlee Iman in which she said she was "profoundly upset" about remarks accusing the council of wanting to sell deteriorating public housing units only because they are occupied primarily by blacks.
Inman reemphasized the council's commitment to maintaining a stock of public housing, but added, "The council has an obligation to all citizens of the city" to help them improve their lives.
"The tenants of public housing in Alexandria are the only people in this city who have been provided a guarantee of a home," Inman continued. "And yet, this group has accused the city of racism and is distrustful of the very people who have maintained their homes."
Inman's remarks, at a council meeting Tuesday, were in response to comments made at a tumultuous meeting Monday of the city housing authority. At one point in the housing meeting, according to persons at the meeting, one speaker charged that public housing units were built near railroad tracks and the Potomac River because whites did not want to live there. The speaker, observers said, went on to contend that the city wants to move the housing projects from their current sites because those areas now are fashionable places to live.
"As a matter of act," Inman responded Tuesday, "when (the) John Roberts (Housing Project) was built on the railroad tracks it was 100 percent white."
Other council members were unanimous in supporting Inman's remarks, which some observers contended was an indication that the city to looks favorbly on the idea of tearing down the public housing units and replacing them with new ones in other parts of the city.