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Public Housing Protest Draws Police Presence

May 1, 2013

Charlottesville police were called to the scene of a public housing protest that made its way inside city hall Wednesday.

About 75 protestors marched from the federal courthouse building to city hall in a rally for "justice and dignity in public housing."

The rally was organized by the Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR).

The protestors are calling for a change in executive leadership of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, immediate air quality assessment and "justice, fairness and respect from CRHA staff," among other demands.

"You need to understand where we're coming from. We're thankful for our houses. We're thankful for where we live. We're just saying you need to treat us humane," said PHAR vice chair Joy Johnson. "They treat dogs better than they treat us."

Following the rally, the protestors stormed city hall, carrying a poster filled with signatures and an outline of their demands.

"We went to deliver that to the housing authority and I think they heard us coming and closed the doors and turned the lights off and wouldn't come to the door," said Brandon Collins of PHAR.

Protestors banged on the office door and shouted to be let in. Shortly after, several police officers arrived on scene.

"The police came and they tried to knock on the door. Eventually there was some response and we were able to get our large message on a poster board to the housing authority," said Collins.

Collins says delivering the message is not enough -- they want to see changes made.

"If we have to go another few weeks with no response and no immediate change from this housing authority, we're going to be in the streets and we're going to be much more angry and we're going to show up in a lot of unexpected places," said Collins.

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