Washington, DC, Ward One, Adams Morgan, March 29, 2022 — There was a strong showing of more than a dozen Adams Morgan Plaza neighbors and supporters attending the “Brianne on the Block” event this past Tuesday night at the local cafe Tryst.
Residents had two points to discuss with the Ward One Councilmember: to advocate for our unhoused neighbors and to demand that the CM Nadeau and the city should “end the controversy, and buy the plaza for less than .06% of the DC budget.”
Plaza supporters envision a reimagined green space at the heart of the community, with a multipurpose public facility that might include a community library focused on the neighborhood and its anti-racist struggles. The space could also house necessary public services our community desperately needs like job training, a cyber library, and space for senior services.
Though there’s been no resolution to pending legal matters and without hosting community discussions about the opportunity to purchase the site, Councilmember Nadeau said, “it’s a done deal” to Adams Morgan resident Allen Jirikowic.
“What, is she a judge?” Will Duggan challenged her statement, referring to the ongoing and pending Court case at DC’s highest Court regarding the fate of the Plaza and its 1977 public easement standing for public use in perpetuity.
Throughout the public event, where multiple parties expressed deep concerns about DC housing policy, CM Nadeau repeatedly insisted that “these are private conversations.” This had the effect of disconnecting so many community discussions which are deeply interconnected. New Adams Morgan resident Yasha Shulkin noted, “it is individualizing strategies like these that silo people off from one another and prevent solidarity.”
“Nadeau is ignorant of our history and that of the Plaza, and by opposing the preservation of the Plaza’s 4000+sq feet, she is eliminating roughly half of the public space at our community’s heart and replacing that space with a 7-story+penthouse luxury condo building,” said longtime Adams Morgan resident Sandra Reischel.
TRUIST FENCES AROUND THE PLAZA – MIGUEL GONZALEZ R.I.P.
This month’s “Brianne on your Block” event came on the heels of news of a community tragedy. Local neighbor and Truist-evicted plaza resident, Miguel Gonzalez, passed away near the plaza on Tuesday morning in part due to cold-exposure. Mr. Gonzalez was one of the longest standing unhoused residents of Adams Morgan Plaza, and was directly impacted by the February 26th 2022 destruction of their dwellings and property where his tent and sleeping bags were discarded.
In laying the groundwork for Truist to fence in the Plaza and steal the belongings of unhoused neighborhood residents about a month ago, the Councilmember wrongly tweeted out that she was “[H]appy to report that all of the residents there have now been connected with safe and stable housing.” https://twitter.com/BrianneKNadeau/status/1492272516529897481
“It must be recognized that these issues are intimately linked; the displacing of unhoused people and the theft of public space directly contributes to these mounting tragedies,” said decades-long Adams Morgan resident, Chris Otten.
“It takes systemically-privileged people like me to keep pressing people like our Councilmember for our unhoused neighbors to get emergency housing vouchers, and even then, due to the lack of urgency by the city, it may be too late,” said Ren Thomas, an Adams Morgan resident who has been working with Plaza neighbors for almost two years. “DC’s housing system is absolutely broken and it has failed Miguel and so many others with the consequence being their lives. This is not only a failure of the most rudimentary duty of care as local elected officials, it’s hinging on the criminal.”
Short video of a portion of the “Brianne on your Block” event:: https://youtu.be/v9O09Jl1ENo
Adams Morgan residents who support the preservation of the Plaza as a vital public space, at the heart of the community’s artery, continue to be disappointed by Councilmember Nadeau’s intransigence and refusal to acknowledge the open legal issues regarding the future of the Plaza pending before the DC Court of Appeals. Even more disappointing is CM Nadeau’s failure to lead by stepping forward to utilize the public’s DC budget to purchase 1800 Columbia Road for just 0.06% of Fiscal Year 2022 finances. This is a year of high surplus income for the city, but still so many of our poor and BIPOC citizens continue to be disenfranchised and disproportionately suffer.
Ensuring this important landmark – won in 1977 through the courageous activism of concerned neighbors against racist lending and banking practices, at the core intersection of our historic Adams Morgan neighborhood, where neighbors and visitors from all backgrounds can congregate and converse without needing to pay for $8 cups of coffee – would be an archetype of public money well spent to commemorate our past and build our future for all residents, not just the wealthiest.
Our asks of Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau:
- Immediately get housing vouchers and trauma counseling for our unhoused residents of the Plaza. Allow a space for them to continue congregating at the intersection and stay a part of the community they have all lived in for decades.
- Retain and renew The Plaza for public use using just 0.06% of FY22 city budget, and reimagine progress as a community multipurpose center to serve all neighbors with services (job training, health and recreation, community archives, cyber library, senior services & more) that keep us safe, connected, and healthy.
It is not “a done deal” sign the petition to save and renew our public space: www.admoplaza.com