TAKOMA PARK, MD – Just days after an off-duty police officer fatally shot two people in the city, a mob of angry, white residents mobilized to protest, but their goal was justice for a parking lot at the Takoma Junction.
“Obviously, we have so much work to do with regard to police reform in our own city and I totally support those efforts,” said Cheryl Jacobson of Holly Avenue. “But what really incentivized me to get out of my house and hit the streets in outrage today is the injustice that is being done to our local boutique grocery store by a greedy developer. If this parking lot access policy isn’t overturned, how will I park when picking up my organic strawberries!?”
In distinct pockets of the city, and especially on local email listservs, anger over the potential loss of parking spaces at an organic grocery store seemed to overshadow the recent loss of actual lives due to unchecked and racist police violence. Those protesting the loss of parking, however, were quick to point out the racial justice elements of their own fight.
“I’m tired of people falsely claiming that the only thing we care about is the Co-Op,” said Karen Miller while holding a “Co-Op or Die” protest sign. “We also care deeply about racial equity issues, like making sure people of all colors have the ability to shop at a store that can only successfully operate if it’s given free access to land owned by someone else.”
Brad Miller of Maple Avenue agreed. “The battle over this parking lot is really a battle against gentrification,” he said while standing just a few dozen feet from a home that recently sold for $1.7 million. “How will anyone be able to continue to live in this neighborhood if we let this development happen and property values start to become unaffordable?”
A line of similarly minded protesters walked up and down Carroll Avenue this afternoon to draw attention to the parking lot’s plight. With noisemakers and signs, the protesters were heard chanting:
“WHAT DO WE WANT?”
“An end to racist police violence!”
“WHEN DO WE WANT IT?”
“After we resolve a minor urban planning dispute dealing with availability of customer parking and delivery truck access!”
*Editor’s note: For those who care about getting involved in the serious and necessary work of addressing police violence here in our own community, the Torch recommends following the Silver Spring Justice Coalition (@SilverCoalition) and the Takoma Park Mobilization (@TPmobilization), among others, for relevant news, action alerts and other volunteer opportunities.