EDITORIAL: Bozzuto Protests Should Continue in Force

Benji Little (center), holding a cellphone and microphone, joins a group of demonstrators at the Big Chair in southeast D.C. to confront a Bozzuto construction manager on March 8 in an effort to stop what many area residents see as unfair development in the ward. The demonstrators, including Ward 8 Council member Trayon White were able to shut down construction on Maple View Flats project for half a day. (Brigette White/The Washington Informer)
Benji Little (center), holding a cellphone and microphone, joins a group of demonstrators at the Big Chair in southeast D.C. to confront a Bozzuto construction manager on March 8 in an effort to stop what many area residents see as unfair development in the ward. The demonstrators, including Ward 8 Council member Trayon White were able to shut down construction on Maple View Flats project for half a day. (Brigette White/The Washington Informer)

Washington, D.C., continues to experience surging business development, new construction projects and the increase of younger Americans moving to the District with more disposable income. The city’s coffers have also risen after years of ledgers with figures in the red. And under the current administration, there’s been a concerted effort to arm more District residents with the education and training that would facilitate a smooth transition into the ranks of the middle class.

But many Washingtonians, particularly those who live east of the river, say they’ve been forgotten, abandoned and feel like they’re being forced out of their beloved city due to gentrification and its lingering impact.

And for the most part, they’re right. That’s why we affirm the efforts of community leaders in Southeast who recently fueled a two-day protest of the Bozzuto construction company, specifically their Maple View Flats development project, that led to a half-day shutdown deemed necessary by the construction company’s officials.

Residents want several concessions including a citywide moratorium on all development and are seeking promises to halt depopulation, inequitable development and gentrification. But what they want, and need, more than anything else, are training programs that lead to well-paying jobs and work opportunities, like the Bozzuto project, in their own ward.

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White is among those who stood at the front of the protest lines and remain critical of the efforts from the mayor’s office to assist the struggling ward 8 residents, many of whom remain unemployed or under-employed – disproportionately so as compared to those who live in the city’s other wards.

It’s bad enough to desperately want to find work and be unable to do so. It’s equally frustrating when one participates in highly-touted job training programs only to discover that the skills they’ve acquired still aren’t enough to help them secure gainful employment. It’s understandable, therefore, why protests and criticism continue against big-name companies like Bozzuto who are making millions on District projects but who allegedly employ only a dismal few, if any, of the men and women who reside in the communities where Bozzuto’s construction projects are underway.

Residents vow that recent protests leading to temporary shutdowns are just the beginning. We offer our support to their worthy cause.

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