CADC Reponds to Post Article about Crispus Attucks Park
In response to the May 22nd Washington Post article “A feud over a D.C. park pits one man against his neighbors,” the Board of Directors of Crispus Attucks Development Corporation believes it necessary to highlight these facts to clarify the omissions and framing of the story:
- The CADC board categorically rejects the gentrification narrative overtly present throughout the Post article. We have no doubt that in Marvin Rich’s mind gentrification and race is the issue, and unfortunately the Post took his bait. The truth, however, is much more complex. Of the 14 CADC board members, seven are African American, six are Caucasian, and one is Hispanic. Five board members have been involved with the park for more than 10 years. CADC board members have lived in Bloomingdale for as little as three years and as many as 44. That The Washington Post dumbed down the issue into “old vs. new” and black vs. white is disappointing and disrespectful. The CADC board is a diverse representation of the neighborhood, and should not be pigeonholed into an oversimplified and tired gentrification narrative. (It is also disappointing that the Post published two photographs of Mr. Rich in the park, but none showing the diversity of the CADC board.)
- Marvin Rich is not a neighbor of any member of the board of Crispus Attucks Park, or even of Crispus Attucks Park itself. Every board member’s home literally overlooks the park. We look out our windows and see the park. Mr. Rich, on the other hand, lives several blocks from the park.
- The decision to pursue a legal resolution was not made by Mr. Blais alone. Mr. Blais is the elected president of CADC and represents its members. It was the board’s UNANIMOUS decision to take Mr. Rich to court. Mr. Rich was publicly claiming to be the true owner of the property, was attempting to raise money as CADC, and was using bogus documents to undermine CADC’s authority with MPD and other DC officials. Mr. Rich exploited his newfound impunity by flouting the park’s rules and, increasingly, engaging in aggressive and threatening actions toward neighbors and board members. He has repeatedly parked vehicles on the lawn of the park. He has left unattended fires in the park. He has blocked access to the alleys surrounding the park. He has driven around the park blasting loud music and speeches. He has glared threateningly at residents. He has threatened to kill members of the board and other neighbors.
- Mr. Rich’s confirmatory deed is bogus and does not in any way indicate ownership of the park. Marilyn Lashley, the former CADC president referenced in the Post article, categorically rejects that any transfer ever took place. Mr. Rich has introduced other documents in court that are obviously fraudulent, including one that claims a current board member attended a meeting in 1977, when he was a 14 years old boy growing up in North Carolina.
- Mr. Rich has not contributed to the park in any way in more than a decade. CADC is an open organization and people who do not live on the park are welcome to participate. In fact, CADC always welcomes active volunteers. Mr. Rich has been aware of the current CADC board for years but has chosen not to attend any meetings or contribute in any positive way.
- That Crispus Attucks Park exists as it does is today is because board members and neighborhood residents—black and white together—spent years of hard effort making it into a green oasis. Twenty years ago, the space that is now Crispus Attucks Park was an open-air drug and prostitution market littered with abandoned cars and a burned out building. Neighbors united to remove the trash and abandoned vehicles, to pull up asphalt and concrete pavements, to tear down the vacant building, and to plant grass, flowers, trees and shrubs. Mr. Rich, very simply, was not involved in that effort.
This is not—as it was portrayed—a community divided. We are a community united. We want to preserve this safe and unifying property in our part of the city we call home. We hope that everyone enjoys the park—it remains open for public use. All we ask is that people observe our basic rules of conduct. Our website can be found at: http://www.crispusattuckspark.org/.
—The diverse, elected members of the board of directors of Crispus Attucks Development Corporation
P.S. Lawyer fees are diverting much of our annual budget away from youth programs and maintenance of the park. If you value and enjoy the park, please consider making a donation. Donations are tax deductable to the extent allowed by law.