New court documents allegedly connect Breonna Taylor's murder to a massive real estate conspiracy

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old EMT who was killed by 3 plainclothes police officers who wrongly delivered a no-knock warrant (which is already constitutionally questionable) at her home in the middle of the night on March 13, 2020. The whole situation is tragic and frustrating and after 4 months, there's still been very little recourse against the officers responsible.

Aa new report from the Louisville Courier-Journal alleges an even more frustrating, bizarre, labyrinthine, and depressingly plausible scenario to explain how everything went so wrong on that fateful evening. The claims, which come from court filings by the lawyers representing Breonna Taylor's family, are not confirmed, nor do they even necessarily constitute legal evidence of any kind that would hold up in court; the Mayor's office in Louisville has called them "outrageous" and "without foundation or supporting facts." But they are, however, now a matter of record in the case. And while I agree that the whole thing sounds outrageous, it's also entirely believable, because shit like this does actually happen.

The court filings allege that Breonna Taylor's murder was an accidental result of other shady behaviors around the proposed Vision Russell Development Plan meant to revitalize the neighborhood (read: gentrification). The project had previously stagnated, but was finally starting to make some progress earlier this year when eight homes were demolished on Elliott Avenue over the course of a few weeks. One of homes on that street that was purchased by the city, but not destroyed, had been occupied by a man named Jamarcus Glover, an ex-boyfriend of Breonna Taylor's who also had a few small drug offenses on his record. Read the rest

San Francisco lockdown: Mission District restaurants and boutiques board up windows in fear

photo by Julian Mark

Restaurants and boutiques in San Francisco's Mission District -- a vibrant neighborhood at the heart of the City's struggle with gentrification and inequality -- are boarding up their windows apparently in fear of riots or robberies. The businesses are closed until at least April 7 due to the “shelter in place” mandate. From Julian Mark's story in Mission Local:

“We actually don’t want to do it,” said Dylan MacNiven, the owner of West of Pecos. “I don’t think it’s good for the public to see this, but now that everyone else has done it, we’re going to be the only one on the street without it.”

MacNiven was in the process of placing the final boards on his windows on Thursday afternoon, and he said the bar and restaurant was hesitant — but then a multitude of surrounding businesses had done the same[....]

“We’re doing it so we can sleep at night,” said Needles and Pens owner Breezy Culbertson.

Culbertson said she will be out $300 to board the windows. Just one of their front windows would cost $2,000 to replace. “It’s a bummer because it feels like it is bad for morale,” said a man named Scott who was helping Culbertson install the boards.

"Apocalypse Chic: Valencia Street businesses board up their windows" (Mission Local, thanks Tim Daly!)

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This-City's-Makin'-A-Comeback Bingo Card

Like a lot of people, I belong to a number of neighborhood-centric Facebook groups. While the general Jamaica Plain group is broadly fine, there's also a private, invite-only group for complaining about the general day-to-day absurdity of living in newly desirable neighborhood of any increasingly-expensive city.

And that's where I discovered this glorious work of art (which, as far as I can tell after a Tin Eye search, originated from the fittingly-named Humans of Late Capitalism Facebook page):

According to these standards, my beloved home in JP is actually in pretty good shape. Though we are the home of the original Sam Adams Brewery, we only have one other brewpub (so far). We're also (so far) safe from the axe-throwing bar trend, and at least Boston Logan is a pretty good airport. In lieu of cows, we have an albino squirrel and those god damn Brookline turkeys. But otherwise…well, shit. I'm pretty sure I am "Guy with stories about band/artist who made it."

Image via Matt Brown/Flickr Read the rest

How the diverse internet became a monoculture

I appeared on this week's Canadaland podcast (MP3) with Jesse Brown to talk about the promise of the internet 20 years ago, when it seemed that we were headed for an open, diverse internet with decentralized power and control, and how we ended up with an internet composed of five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four. Jesse has been covering this for more than a decade (I was a columnist on his CBC podcast Search Engine, back in the 2000s) and has launched a successful independent internet business with Canadaland, but as he says, the monopolistic gentrification of the internet is heading for podcasting like a meteor. Read the rest

Grass in the park at the center of San Francisco gentrification debate is now for rent

Dolores Park is a symbol of the clash between of the Mission District's low-income, non-white traditional residents and the flood of gentrifying tech world. Read the rest

How gentrification really changed an Atlanta neighborhood

Kirkwood, Atlanta, looks like a standard-issue gentrified urban neighborhood, a mix of yuppies and old-timers. Josh Green moved there and found a community ambivalent about the changes in its fortunes. But the story of his neighbor's family illustrates it better than house prices or property tax records ever could.

Last autumn I saw Anita helping her brother and went across the street. She could barely look at the massive two-story Craftsman, purchased by a young surgeon and her husband, that had replaced her childhood home, though Al had tried to console her: It’s just like the grave site, he said. Something died; we buried it. And something new is coming up. Complicating matters, a couple of Anita’s older siblings were so incensed that she didn’t renovate the property and keep it in the family, she told me, they hadn’t spoken to her since Anna’s funeral. But renovations would have been too expensive, and Anna had given her blessing to have the home sold, encouraging Anita to take the proceeds and move back to some quieter place.

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The Four Horsemen of Gentrification: Brine, Snark, Brunch, Whole Foods

Zain Khalid pens the perfect McSweeney's humor-short: self-reflexive (snark, indeed!), demographically loaded, and ha-ha-only-serious. Read the rest

Snow, a film about a love affair between a girl and her neighbourhood

Snow is a new indie feature film set in Toronto, adapted from Benjamin Rivers's graphic novel of the same name, about a love affair between a young woman and her neighbourhood of Queen Street West, which is being transformed by development. Read the rest