Members of The Lamont Street Collective were officially evicted from their longstanding group home and event space in Mount Pleasant earlier today. Just as they vowed to do last month, they didn’t go quietly.
For about an hour this morning, a group of people linked arms and sang songs on the steps of the 41-year-old group home at 1822 Lamont St. NW as D.C. Police officers looked on. Their message? “We won’t yield.”
The collective’s members sang songs such as “All You Need Is Love” and “Solidarity Forever.” Some members also stood on the building’s roof above a large homemade banner that read “Thru-Out DC To $ & Power: We Won’t Yield Our Community.”
“It’s ridiculous to me how it’s not a crime to take someone’s home, but what we’re doing is a crime,” said Bryan Kovalick, one of the protesters. “I have housemates standing on the roof and inside willing to resist and willing to get arrested for this community.”
Despite the slogans and songs, the protest fizzled when police threatened to arrest some of the demonstrators for trespassing. Still, the act of civil disobedience was a victory for many of the group home’s past and present members.
“I think this is an amazing moment of non-violent, peaceful resistance,” said former Collective member Marzena Zukowska. “People are occupying space in a community that is so meaningful.”
Members of a longstanding group home and event space in Mount Pleasant have vowed to protest against a landlord who recently evicted them.
The Lamont Street Collective — a 41-year-old group home located at 1822 Lamont St. NW and centered around leftist activism, social justice and art — is well-known for throwing “Salon de Libertad” parties and other community events.
But it looks like those parties and events will come to an end, at least on Lamont Street. Though the group said it agreed two weeks ago to move out of its home by July 31, one of its landlords, Paul Repak, filed a writ of eviction last Monday after a dispute over a rent check.
“Since buying the home, Repak has refused to negotiate a compromise that would allow the collective to remain in its home of the past four decades,” the group explained in a press release about the eviction. “Mount Pleasant, home for decades to D.C.’s Salvadoran community and a vibrant culture of activism and collective living, has become a hotbed of displacement and gentrification as property values have skyrocketed in the last decade.”
Members of the group, who expect the U.S. Marshals Service to enforce the eviction as early as tomorrow, spent the day yesterday moving out of the home.
“It’s kind of a shame that this building is being taken in this way,” said Collective member Cody Valentine. “Especially when we decided to leave on our own. It seems very spiteful almost.”
But the group hopes to have the last word. When U.S. Marshals Service officers show up some time in the next 75 days, the group and its allies plan to engage in “nonviolent civil disobedience.”
Collective member Devyn Powell said she expects more than two dozen people to participate in the protest.
“[The eviction] could be very soon or it could be not very soon,” Powell said. “We’re going to be on alert for a while.”
Police say they received a call for an armed robbery on the 600 block of Lamont Street NW around 12:40 p.m. today.
Police could not provide more details when contacted by phone, but said that more information would be made available later.