Thursday, June 3, 2010

NOPD SWAT Team Arrests Activist in Retaliation for Her Leadership in Struggle for Affordable Housing

From our friends at Survivors Village and Take Back the Land:

Sharon Jasper, member of Survivors Village and Mayday New Orleans, was arrested by New Orleans police, who brought in a SWAT team to apprehend this Black woman elder from her home.

Ms. Sharon is being charged with assaulting a rental agent during an action last week, organized by Survivors Village and MayDay New Orleans as part of the Take Back the Land Movement May 2010 Month of Action. On Friday, May 28th, a group entered the Columbia Parc rental office and held a sit-in demanding the right of former St. Bernard Housing Project residents to return to their homes.

Columbia Parc replaced the St. Bernard Housing Development after the City of New Orleans voted to demolish the 1,500 units of public housing and replace them with so-called "mixed-income" market housing. To date, almost none of the former residents of St Bernard have been provided with replacement housing in the new development.

Last weekend's protest was part of the Right to Return Weekend in New Orleans. The Right of Return Weekend was organized in conjunction with the May month of actions called by Take Back the Land Movement (TBLM). TBLM is a network of autonomous organizations affiliated with the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) dedicated to realizing the human right to adequate housing and community control over land.

Police say Ms. Sharon assaulted a Columbia Parc rental agent during her entrance into the building as part of last week's action. The rental agent did not complain about an assault and continued to work in the office the entire time of the occupation, including when police arrived. While there, police made no mention of an assault when explaining to the group why they should end their protest.

The truth is that the City of New Orleans did not arrest Sharon Jasper for assault, they arrested her because she dared to tell that truth and demand that public housing residents of New Orleans have the right to return to their homes. The arrest represents a clear effort by the City of New Orleans to represent the interests of the developers of the Columbia Parc while actively working against the displaced former residents of New Orleans.

As we write this, Survivors Village organizer Endesha Juakali and others are currently at Orleans Parish Prison seeking Ms. Sharon's release. The Take Back the Land Movement has arranged for legal assistance for Sharon Jasper through the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York city and local New Orleans attorneys.

The Take Back the Land Movement condemns this politically-motivated use of the public police in order to protect private developers from protests.

Survivors Village has announced that they will hold a protest in front of Columbia Parc on Monday, June 7, at noon. Columbia Parc is on the 3600 block of St. Bernard Ave. in New Orleans.

Survivors Village is asking supporters to call Columbia Parc and demand 1). drop all charges against Sharon Jasper; and 2) Allow for the unconditional return of former St. Bernard Housing residents.

To contact Columbia Parc directly, call (504) 284-4769, or see

Video of Sharon Jasper's arrest, as well as updates on her legal situation, can be found by visiting Videos of the arrest are expected to be up on June 4.

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