Private police harass residents at Brookland Manor community event in D.C.
Screen grabs from video show: At left, an MPD officer telling BMBVRA President Ms. Minnie Elliott that her legal rights to gather and organize don’t apply if management wants her off the property. At right, chairs and other equipment for the planned movie night lay thrown on the ground after private security and police crashed the event. | Brookland Manor Coalition via Twitter

WASHINGTON––On Saturday, May 22, residents and supporters of Brookland Manor Apartments in Ward 5 of Washington, D.C., gathered for an evening social to watch the film What Happened 2 Chocolate City? The event was to feature food, drinks, music, discussions, and cultural performances by the ONE DC Black Workers and Wellness Center Chorus in addition to the film screening. Leaders of the Brookland Manor/Brentwood Village Resident Association (BMBVRA) and the Brookland Manor Coalition (formed in 2020 of progressive members and organizations in support of Brookland Manor tenants) advertised the event via social media and leafleting around the complex prior to Saturday’s activities.

The event was to take place in the front yard of BMBVRA President Minnie Elliot’s apartment building in a fenced-off grass area, which was still accessible through a gate. During set-up, a few hours prior to the film screening, a private security guard (in plain clothes) from MidCity Developers (who own the property) began harassing the residents and attendees of the event (which included elderly Black women and children). This security guard verbally abused every person that was in or around the property and threatened police violence to physically remove everyone from the yards and sidewalk.

The private security officer was backed by multiple special police officers of the Black Falls Special Police Department who, surprisingly, were all Black women who had conflicting opinions and discomfort about the violent bullying and harassment by the MidCity security, noting that they had Black families who deal with similar harassment and violence. Zillah Wesley, of the D.C. People’s Campaign, de-escalated some of the heated bullying of the MidCity stool pigeon by not giving the security officer any reason to call for a violent arrest of a Brookland Manor resident. During the altercation, the MidCity security called the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to arrest everyone for the supposed crime of trespassing in their own front yards.

Residents are organizing after police crashed their weekend movie night. | Brookland Manor Coalition via Twitter

When residents attempted to gather in the yard, both MidCity private security, Black Falls Special Police, and MPD all aggressively threatened to arrest everyone in the yard claiming that the residents did not have the owner’s permission to use their front yard.

“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.

The residents and supporters eventually cleared the yard and gathered on the sidewalk near parked cars. Children and elderly residents were traumatized by this altercation, as the social event turned into continued harassment and bullying by private police officers paid on the dime of MidCity developers who are trying to displace their families from the largest affordable housing community in D.C.


Jamal Rich
Jamal Rich

Jamal Rich writes from Washington, D.C. where he is active with the Claudia Jones School for Political Education.