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Well-Schooled Vandals and Official Buffoonery

By Gregory Flannery · November 14th, 2007 · Porkopolis
  An unknown critic posted signs protesting the impending demolition of a school.
Sean Hughes

An unknown critic posted signs protesting the impending demolition of a school.

Someone broke into Washington Park Elementary School early this week and hung signs protesting its demolition, which is underway. The school closed at the end of the 2006-07 school year and is being razed to make room for an expansion of Washington Park. The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) believes a larger park will appeal to people attending symphony concerts and other events at Music Hall as well as those who might be considering investing in a nearby condominium or loft.

What 3CDC wants, 3CDC gets. But some others don't like the way that works. Some see the school's demolition as yet another push toward gentrification, displacing the low-income people who live in Over-the-Rhine, according to Josh Spring, a neighbor.

"In Over-the-Rhine there has been a history of schools being closed, and it's continuing," he says.

"The people I talk to are fed up with it. They think the people in power don't want low-income people here. It's a direct attack on the low-income people in the neighborhood."

The protest signs, hung from inside the school's windows, said, "End Displacement Now" and "Schools Before Parking Lots." The handwriting on the signs was exceptionally good, raising the possibility that it was a graduate of Washington Park Elementary coming back to bid a fond farewell.

Perhaps ironically, on the opposite end of Washington Park construction of the new School for Creative and Performing Arts is underway on a former parking lot.

Want to have some political fun? Go to the anti-immigrant program hosted by the city of Mason and ask what "illegal people" look like, how they talk, what they eat, what kind of music they listen to. At 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at Mason High School, the city presents a workshop for local businesses, explaining how to identify undocumented workers -- and what to do when you spot some.

Mason Mayor Char Pelfrey, Deerfield Township Trustee Dan Corey, Warren County Commissioner Pat South and Major John Newsom of the Warren County Sheriff's Office are among the scheduled participants. The League of United Latin American Citizens is urging people who support immigrants' rights to attend and present alternative views. For example, instead of making newcomers feel unwelcome, perhaps the city of Mason could help them find affordable housing.

But if you prefer to just ask questions, here's one: How did all those white people in Mason end up there -- did their forebears have the proper passports, visas and other documents when they arrived? People have a right to know. The program is in the school's Fine Arts Center on Mason-Montgomery Road.

Peace activists knocked on doors in Clifton, Mount Healthy and Price Hill the afternoon of Nov. 10, asking residents to sign the "Voters for Peace" pledge. The pledge says, "I will only vote for or support federal candidates who publicly commit to a speedy end to the Iraq war and to preventing future wars of aggression." The Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center organized the effort, part of an ongoing national campaign (visit www.votersforpeace.us).

Peace workers will hold candlelight vigils from 6-6:30 p.m. Friday calling for a moratorium on the war in Iraq. IJPC is organizing vigils in Winton Place, Price Hill, Northside and Mount Healthy. For details, call Sue at 513-579-8547.

For more information on white people behaving badly or peace workers helping their neighborhoods, check out CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at blogs.citybeat.com/Porkopolis.

Porkopolis TIP LINES: 513-665-4700 (ext. 138) or pork(at)citybeat.com


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