From our friends at Survivors Village:
Sharon Jasper, a public housing activist from the former St. Bernard development, is facing a court hearing tomorrow, Tuesday July 20, at 3 pm in Municipal Court Section D, 727 S. Broad Street, near Tulane Avenue.
Sharon Jasper, member of Survivors Village and Mayday New Orleans, was arrested by New Orleans police, who brought in a SWAT team for the arrest of this elder and community leader.
Ms. Sharon is being charged with assaulting a rental agent during a May action, 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.
The 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 the May 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.
In a statement released today, Survivors Village has said, "We are hoping that she will receive wide support from those who believe in social justice and community activism. Sharon was not arrested because she broke any laws, but because she has been a tireless and uncompromising fighter for the right of poor people to return to their communities after being displaced by the government negligence which led to the city of New Orleans being flooded."
"Further, the Housing Authority of New Orleans and HUD are now trying to make an example out of Sharon by taking her voucher away. With rent three times as high as it was before the evacuation, this is basically an attempt to make her one of the thousands of homeless people that already exist in the city of New Orleans. If we allow these people to be successful in their efforts to silence Sharon, no resident will be safe to express themselves or fight back through protest and community actions."
"Survivors Village met on last Saturday with many individuals and organizations to plot a long term strategy for this fight, and we will win! More information will be forthcoming soon, but the first step in the battle is to support Sharon in court tomorrow!"
We hope to see you there.
Photo of Sharon Jasper by Mavis Yorks, New Orleans, 2007.