Brookland Movie Gathering Interrupted by Police

Image courtesy of The Washington Post

By Noelia Veras

Residents of Washington D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood gathered to watch the film What Happened 2 Chocolate City on Saturday, May 22, when a private security guard in plain clothing began harassing the attendees. The security guard was from MidCity Developers, who own the Brookland Manor Apartments property where the incident occurred. 

According to People’s World, the event was centered around the screening of a film about gentrification, and several residents of Brookland Manor were there to enjoy snacks, discussions, and an overall educational community gathering. The film was selected purposefully as many fear the present threat of gentrification in Ward 5. 

Children were present at the event with their parents and cultural performances took place by the ONE DC Black Workers and Wellness Center chorus. The Brookland Manor Coalition—which was founded in 2020 to protect tenants of Brookland Manor—as well as the Leaders of the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Resident Association (BMBVRA) were dedicated to putting on this event and advertised it before the activities on Saturday.

“This is a community. This is not a business. We don’t need security to tell us what to do. We need security to protect us. You’ve got to think about the people who live around here,” said Cheryl Brunson, BMBVRA Treasurer and Brookland Manor resident, according to People’s World.

“Brookland Manor is the largest remaining affordable community in the nation’s capital and its 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom units are some of the last places for families in the District,” says The Brookland Manor Coalition’s website. “But the DC government approved and funded the owner’s plan to tear down more than a hundred family units to replace them with 1,300 luxury apartments. This massive displacement plan eliminates desperately needed family housing and threatens the close knit community supports residents have built over the last 60 years. The Brookland Manor community, a Black stronghold in gentrifying Ward 5, is fighting back.”

At the event, as residents were setting up and trying to gather, MidCity private security, Black Falls Special Police, and MPD told them that they would arrest everyone present, including children, due to the fact that they did not have the property owner’s permission.

“My granddaughter is scared that she is going to jail because she wanted to watch a movie,” said Brunson. “This is not a good look for the children.”

According to the Washington Post, many residents were also shocked that right before the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police, someone would call the police on a group of mostly eldery Black residents whowere trying to enjoy a movie and a community gathering. 

12-year-old Marianna Richardson, was a beacon of hope for many at the event. She  was applauded by the people in attendance, even the police, after giving an impromptu statement.

“They said the children are going to go to jail, too, but I’m not moving,” Richardson said. “I was born and raised here. This is my community. We are sticking up for our homes, and for the police to take sides against people for doing that is beaucoup crazy.”Ultimately, no arrests were made. To contribute to the Brookland Manor Coalition’s efforts to protect its residents, go to the website or sign the coalition’s petition to demand that the D.C. council stops funding displacement.

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