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Group Protests Barring Notices of Black Men in Public Housing

12/22/2011, 5:50 p.m.

"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."