Residents Sue Washington D.C. For Racist Gentrification Practices

Washington DC is being sued for gentrification.

The 82-page class action lawsuit, filed by Aristotle Theresa, brought grievances against the city for its alleged discriminatory policies favoring creatives and millennials at the expense of the city’s historically African American, low-income residents.

Theresa, a civil rights lawyer from nearby neighborhood Anacostia, is representing three individuals from Washington and over 20 members of the community group CARE. The lawsuit, filed on April 14, said that lawmakers and bureaus, including former mayors Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray, have championed discriminatory practices such as the Creative Action Agenda and the Creative Economy Strategy.

“These policy documents say outright, we are planning to alter land use in order to attract people who are of a certain age range, in order to attract people who are a certain profession,” Theresa said.

Gentrification is not just a Black and White Issue

Since 1980, Washington has gained about 66,000 white residents while it has lost about 135,000 black residents. Black population loss has potentially stabilized this decade, while the white population is still growing.

But the differences do not show a one-for-one replacement of black residents by white residents. While the black population has declined and the white population has increased, the city has also gained nearly 50,000 Hispanic residents.

In fact, from 1980-2000, Hispanic and Asian residents, up by about 17,000, were the only growing categories — in that time period, both the black and white populations in DC were falling.

Additionally, Washington’s status as an “international city” has increased: Now, about 14% of DC’s population was born in a different country, more than doubling from about 6% in 1980.