NAACP of­fi­cials link signs to white supremacy

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - NEWS - As­so­ci­ated Press PORT­LAND, ORE.

A new city pol­icy re­quir­ing pub­lic signs on brick build­ings warn­ing they might col­lapse in an earth­quake is part of a long his­tory of white supremacy aimed at forc­ing black peo­ple to move out of neigh­bor­hoods, the NAACP of Port­land, Ore­gon, says.

The group on Thurs­day de­cried the pol­icy af­fect­ing some 1,600 un­re­in­forced ma­sonry build­ings that are on av­er­age 90 years old, many in ar­eas with a pre­dom­i­nantly black pop­u­la­tion, The Ore­go­nian/ore­gonlive re­ports .

The pol­icy “ex­ac­er­bates a long his­tory of sys­temic and struc­tural be­tray­als of trust and poli­cies of dis­place­ment, de­mo­li­tion, and dis­pos­ses­sion pred­i­cated on clas­sism, racism, and white supremacy,” the group said.

The NAACP said the pol­icy will make it tougher for own­ers of brick build­ings to get loans and will dis­cour­age in­vest­ment. It says that means build­ings will have to be sold, and that de­vel­op­ers will de­mol­ish and re­de­velop, in­creas­ing the cost to live there and forc­ing cur­rent res­i­dents out.

“It speaks to our houses of wor­ship and ev­ery­thing about the black pres­ence in the North-north­east area,” said the Rev. E.D. Mondaine, a pas­tor at Cel­e­bra­tion Taber­na­cle Church in north Port­land and pres­i­dent of the Port­land NAACP chap­ter.

City of­fi­cials say the or­di­nance ap­proved in Oc­to­ber is part of an ef­fort ul­ti­mately aimed at up­grad­ing old build­ings to with­stand an earth­quake, though seis­mic up­grades likely wouldn’t be re­quired for at least 20 years. Such up­grades could cost brick-build­ing own­ers mil­lions of dol­lars.

Ex­perts say Port­land is at risk be­cause there’s close to a 50 per­cent chance of a gi­ant earth­quake along the Cas­ca­dia Sub­duc­tion Zone off the Ore­gon coast in the next 50 years.

The warn­ing signs and a re­quire­ment that build­ing own­ers must file a record of com­pli­ance is “re­ally just a dis­clo­sure,” said Alex Cousins, a spokesman for the city Bureau of De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices. “That’s the pur­pose be­hind it.”

The warn­ing signs are to go up on pub­lic build­ings this month, and on most other build­ings by March 1. The warn­ing on them says: “This is an un­re­in­forced ma­sonry build­ing. Un­re­in­forced ma­sonry build­ings may be un­safe in the event of a ma­jor earth­quake.”

In re­lated ac­tion, a non­profit coali­tion of Port­land brick build­ing own­ers re­cently filed a law­suit seek­ing to block the or­di­nance, ar­gu­ing it’s un­con­sti­tu­tional un­der free-speech and due­pro­cess rights.

“The gov­ern­ment is forc­ing pri­vate prop­erty own­ers to ba­si­cally broad­cast the gov­ern­ment’s mes­sage in­stead of their own,” said John Dilorenzo, an at­tor­ney for the group.

Also, a coali­tion of mu­sic venues called Mu­sic­port­land has sided with the NAACP, say­ing the or­di­nance threat­ens some 30 of its mu­sic venues.

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