On Martin Luther King Day, members of a housing rights advocacy group occupy St. Bernard Housing Development at residents' request.
As St. Bernard residents try to reach terms with HANO officials about their right to return, members of Mayday NOLA, a housing rights advocacy group, currently occupy more than one apartment of the St. Bernard Housing Development in New Orleans. They do so at the residents' request as stated in their open letter.
One occupant, who wished to be anonymous at this time, described the mood inside the apartment as quiet and apprehensive as of 5pm, but maintained they are "staying here as long as it takes."
Earlier today, Martin Luther King's birthday, around 12:30 pm, St. Bernard residents and supporters marched around the development until an opening in the fence allowed residents, with volunteers in tow, to open up their apartments for cleaning and salvaging. Without HANO officials interfering, residents saved many bikes, bed frames, ceramics and glass objects while ridding apartments of dirt and grime from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina more than sixteen months ago.
HANO police stood outside the occupied apartment recently, but have since gone away. The only fear, one occupant says, is that police will come during the night. Though Mayday NOLA members set up barricades, which have since been removed and strewn across the front yard, they strongly advocate non-violence rather than a physical fight. They plan to move from the apartment only if police physically remove and arrest them.
With the sun setting over the horizon, HANO officials locked the open entrances to St. Bernard after residents and volunteers vacated, leaving only the occupants inside the fence.
"The energy is still high here and we're optimistic that HANO will listen to residents," a Mayday NOLA member said.