Voices Of Wards 7 And 8: Neighbors Explain What The Protests Against Systemic Racism Mean To Them

Demonstrators took to the D.C. streets in late May, protesting police brutality and the systemic racism Black people face. It was part of a larger movement inspired by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but Floyd wasn’t the only name protesters chanted. They called for justice for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and, more locally, Marqueese Alston, D’Quan Young, and others. In September, a new name was added to the list: Deon Kay.

The demonstrations have taken place against the backdrop of a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Black and Latino Americans, including in D.C. The city had huge racial disparities even before the coronavirus — on average, Black residents have less household income and worse health outcomes than white residents, and are more likely to be stopped and frisked or arrested for marijuana by D.C. police.

Wards 7 and 8 still have a 92% and 89% Black population, according to the 2018 American Community Survey. Many residents from these communities often express not having the opportunity to publicly express their concerns about the ongoing survival issues they face. So we visited Congress Heights, Anacostia, and Benning Ridge to ask people how they feel about the protests against systemic racism, and whether they think the demonstrations have led to changes in their communities. Here’s what they had to say.

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