Barnes said the young black men are prosecuted and imposed a sentence without the due process of law, raising both due process and First Amendment implications. He pointed out the young people who have been prosecuted with barring notices "have never been involved with the law" before.
The most prominent barring notice case occurred recently when D.C. State Board of Education member Trayon White, who represents Ward 8, was arrested by the D.C. Housing Authority police and MPD officers for trying to conduct his non-profit business affairs in the Woodland Terrace complex in Southeast.
"I was charged with unlawful entry to Woodland Terrace and I have an office and a contract with the D.C. Housing Authority to be there," White, 27, said. "I have served Woodland for seven years. I and others have met with D.C. Housing Chief [William] Pittman and officials of the D.C. police department about this."
White, who was elected in a special election to replace the late William Lockridge on the board of education in April, is the executive director of HICKS Inc.--Helping Inner City Kids Succeed-- a nonprofit designed to help teenagers and young adults move forward in their lives.
Barnes said White's harassment is outrageous.
"Trayon White is a duly elected official in the District and he is being harassed because he wears his hair in dreadlocks," Barnes said. "He has to pay for a lawyer and is branded for life and he did nothing."
Barnes also cited the situation of Charles Malloy, who received a barring notice from Woodland Terrace even though his mother, grandmother and the mother of his two-year-old child live there, but Malloy did not receive good legal advice on how to deal with the matter.
"Charles Malloy pleads guilty and as a result, the plea stays on his record," he said.
Gary Lover, who has relatives who live in the Lincoln Heights complex, also received a barring notice while on the property.
"I am a graduate of Delaware State University and I have worked for Channel 7," Lover said. "Despite that, I have been harassed by the police because I want to see my family."
Support for the embattled young men came from E. Faye Williams, chair of the National Congress of Black Women, and Keith Silver, the head of the D.C. Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
"This is racial profiling at its best," Silver, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for District 6C01, said.
A spokesman for the D.C. Police Department had no comment. Dena Michaelson, D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) spokesperson, released a statement from the department regarding the controversy.
"As a property owner and landlord, DCHA is committed to taking steps to protect the safety of our residents," the statement said. "One of the tools we have used for more than 15 years to preserve residents' quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their property is barring notices. Periodically, we get questions from or about people who have been barred."
The statement from the agency that oversees the District's 47 public housing properties with more than 7500 units, said that barring actions are reviewed "on a case-by-case basis." It was noted that there have been "67 people barred from Woodland Terrace this year" and that "people are barred for engaging in any activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents." D.C. Housing police officers and MPD are authorized to serve bar notices.
Barnes wants all barring notices suspended, as well as a review of all convictions from claimed barring notice violation and, where the situation merits, to relieve young men from the burdens they face.
Finally, Barnes wants those affected adversely by barring notices to be "appropriately compensated" for their legal expenses. Barnes also has filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request seeking data from D.C. Department of Housing on its barring enforcement policy.
Bradley Thomas, a D.C. attorney who serves as an advisory neighborhood commissioner for District 5C01, said the men receiving barring notices are being wronged.
"I believe that this is a clear infringement on civil and human rights," Thomas, 58, said. "While I support the police, I know that it is extremely difficult to erase an arrest from a person's record. This will stigmatize these young people for the rest of their lives and this is taking place without due process."
On Monday, White received notification from the DC Superior Court that he will be able to enter Woodland Terrace without any interference from any police officer. While White was happy about the outcome, the issue is still relevant for other black men, he said.
"This is gentrification at its best," White said. "This is modern slavery and in this country you have 910,000 African-American men who are incarcerated. Enough is enough and we are human beings, not animals."