How gentrification brings over-policing for D.C.’s black residents

Daily Beast, May 28, 2019: How gentrification brings over-policing for D.C.’s black residents

Across the District of Columbia, black natives complain that with each new resident comes increased targeting by law enforcement tasked with keeping their communities safe.

“Gentrification and police work can feel like they have the same goal,” says Paul Butler, a Georgetown University professor and former federal prosecutor. “Many white people, when they feel threatened by African Americans, call 9-1-1 because they know the state will respond to their racial anxiety.”

According to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Washington, D.C., experienced the most “intense” gentrification of any major city in the country. Between 2000 and 2013, 40% of all low-income neighborhoods in D.C. experienced gentrification, displacing more than 20,000 African Americans. The District ranks third in the number of neighborhoods to transform overall.

Disparities are citywide. Black people are disproportionately arrested in every D.C. neighborhood no matter its racial makeup or crime rate—making any link to gentrification difficult to determine. One element preventing the researchers from making that connection to is how many arrests stem from calls to 9-1-1 or 3-1-1.

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