Protest Benches at 14th and Oak Streets, NW


I’ve always known there were benches here but I never noticed the writing on them before. I’m not sure who sponsored the writing but it is certainly thought provoking. It is very interesting to see this perspective. You can see some of the writing on the bench above answering the question: “Why do you think the benches were taken out?”.

Do folks know if these benches were supposed to be removed or is this a preemptive protest?


More benches after the jump.




25 Comment

  • DC does have relatively few benches it seems to me. I always figured it was to dissuade people from living on them, as seems to happen with bus stops. So its not much of a loss overall, I don’t think many people got to use the benches since they’d be dominated by a few guys and their violence and/or urine.

    Downtown it looks like many benches have additions to them to make it harder to use them as a bed, like a armrest in the middle, or a spiky sort of strip down the middle.

  • very nice fonts used by this person. obviously artistic….

  • The new bus stops have narrow and slightly rounded benches designed particularly to prevent someone from sleeping or resting on them for more than a few minutes. There’s definitely a push toward removing the homeless from sight [and thereby from mind], but you’ll never get any public officials to admit this. Making public seating less accommodating is still more ‘acceptable’ than just giving homeless people bus tickets out of town as some jurisdictions have done.

  • I wonder who wrote that stuff. Doubtful it was the people who were using those benches.

  • Here’s the a good link to why the benches are taken down (this is why we can’t have nice things):

    “I find it hard to believe that if my friends and I decided to congregate on the sidewalk and grill, start fights, curse out passersby, puke, and trash the area, we wouldn

  • I think they removed the benches at the same time they removed the ones at the firehouse. I believe this park is part of the broader streetscape improvement plan and should be getting upgrades in the near future. See page #13

  • I live on the Hill and pass Seward Square on Pennsylvania Ave. The benches there seem to only ever used by the homeless (there is a place that serves food in the Haines building on the corner of Penn and 7th) and the Jehovah’s witness. This park is bordered by houses and I have wondered if it annoyed the owners to look out their front door and see people sleeping on benches. I can choose another route home but homeowner options are less but those benches got a repainting a few years ago.

  • FWIW, NPS is in the process of replacing the giant ring of benches around Dupont Circle, and they’re doing it with exactly the same bum-friendly materials that were there before. It’s great to watch, there are a couple of NPS maintenance guys with a truck full of 2x4s and as they do a section everybody just moves over a little. To be fair, the homeless guys seem to be pretty good about keeping people off the wet paint, which is a pretty stark contrast to the Ted Kennedy vigil which left melted wax and stains all over the park.

  • That park needs better lighting to make it feel safe. The one streetlight is blocked by a tree branch that needs to be trimmed for it to be effective. The owners of Social should adopt this park along with the Latino Youth Group that is run in the apartment building next door to the park.

  • The artist left out “To score crack.” Friends call that spot at 14th and Oak “Sketchy Park.” They re-landscaped and had a few busts to try and close down the open air drug market there, but it starts back up again. Some real crazies live in the apartment building on the northwest corner (walking in the middle of the street, yelling and mooning passing cars.) Worst (most frequent) drug purchasers, believe it or not…taxi drivers!

  • What frustrates me about people who protest attempts to make the parks safe is that Children have been shot after exiting parks by rival crews where drug use is rampant – and people whine and complain about attempts to “gentrify” the parks

    I know that “think of the children” is a joke, but kids are getting shot and shooting and seeing others shoot.

  • There’s no art here.

    Vandalism straight up.

  • Benches were taken out about a year ago. These new ones just showed up about two weeks ago…along with the open air crack market…

  • Petworth newbie sounds like he just moved out of his parents house.

  • To all of the folks who feel entitled to make accusatory generalizations about people who use park benches: maybe, instead of trying to draw tenuous connections between the presence of usable public space (parks, playgrounds, places to sit) and escalations in crime/drug commerce, you should consider the totally stifling impact of a bunch of rich whiners who move into a neighborhood and form coalitions of yuppie angst to alienate longtime residents and blame teenagers for being neglected, harassed, and disenfranchised by a society that is supposed to protect, educate, and employ them. Look at the numbers: drug commerce in this neighborhood was TOTALLY UNAFFECTED by the benches not being there. Ya’ll just don’t want to SEE local people hanging out, whether or not they’re doing anything “wrong”, because (and here i go out on a bit of cynical limb) a) it reminds you that the rest of the world is not part of the Disneyland condominium compound you spent your trust fund buying into, and b) you resent symbols of community that contrast the soulless void of your existence.


  • 14th/monroe, that might be a beautiful piece of prose you wrote there, but its pretty much bullshit. you have the stereotypical view of long time dcers, and it will be the doom of everything you know and love. dont get too nostalgic for the days of thugs running the city and law abiding citizens locking themselves in for the night at sundown. those days are over, or at least on their way out with a quickness. instead of blaming the rich whining yuppies why they feel so entitled to take your benches, why dont you ask yourself and your peers what you were doing before they moved in to deserve those benches? why dont you ask yourself why there are so many neglected, harrassed, and disenfranchised teenagers in this city? were they here before the yuppies? was dc such a magical ghetto disneyland for you before the yuppies? dont blame the solution as the problem.

  • cause you can’t deal crack without a bench?

    seriously, the city keeps taking away our public space, and when we lose public space we lose our ability to actually have human interactions with each other.

    just because you’re too rude and afraid to actually sit down and talk to your neighbors doesn’t mean that everybody else doesn’t want some comfortable space to sit down and talk with neighbors.

    people are gonna keep dealing and using as long as they keep being discriminated against when they look for jobs or promotions. People don’t deal because its fun, they deal cause that the reality of poverty. pull your head out of your ass and check into the real world bud.

  • christopher: sadly, you must not be thinking straight. just because there weren’t many white people in columbia heights before the slow, painful process of gentrification gained momentum doesn’t mean that it was a ‘ghetto’. did you learn that word at the cafeteria table in seventh grade? maybe it’s time that you outgrew bullshit institutionalized racism.

    what did people in washington do to deserve space to sit/commune/whatever? well, last time i checked, the right to enjoy one’s public resources fell under the basic tenets of citizenship. despite what you may think, most people who work in DC pay taxes, and many of those who don’t are still busting their asses to keep the city running, so, in my opinion, they damn well deserve to be able to sit down in a PARK in their neighborhood. a better question might be, what did the rich folk who moved into the area do to deserve their precious little dog park on 11th (or whatever it is)?? seems a bit odd that people with vast disposable incomes managed to throw their weight around and get their nasty little lap dogs a private park within, what, a few years of taking over the block, while long-time residents who are not wealthy/white/encouraged to participate in local politics have to fight to keep the city from REMOVING the public property they’ve enjoyed for years.

    i think that the real problem here is that, whenever you moved to the city, you brought a bunch of assumptions with you about how things would be, and expected everyone and everything to conform to your idealized concept of your new urban life. you don’t want to see poverty that is supported and perpetuated by the domineering obliviousness of real-estate prospectors and scared yuppies, so you encourage the banishment of people you identify with “ghetto”-ness from your line of sight. you don’t want to know that drug commerce is inevitable in a hugely class-disparate city, so you blame things like benches and the ABSENCE OF RICH PEOPLE (this part is hilarious!) instead of recognizing how people like you drain time, energy, and morale from efforts to re-center public spending around the people who need it – local kids and families – so that they won’t feel pressured to work in a dangerous street-economy. As already pointed out, people usually end up dealing drugs because their other options for work have been reduced to unsustainable wage-slavery, not because they’re evil and you’re good. Also keep in mind that a lot of the people you’re calling “thugs” are just teenagers being teenagers – sure, they heckle people and do foolish shit to get attention, but they’re not acting out any more than kids anywhere else. My guess is that you just didn’t expect them to be here cramping your yuppie wet-dream. Sheesh.

  • DC was a white city long before it was a black one. Middle and upper class blacks abandoned DC for dead in the 70’s through today by choosing to move to PG, Charles, and Montgomery Counties instead of investing money in the city. Blame black people for cutting and running.

  • That’s stupid..people left dc because DC was unsafe…white,jewish, black hispanic etc. The fucking federal government didn’t give a fuck and for you to suggest that it was just black people is stupid and shows how misinformed some motherfuckers all of these suburbanites are moving to DC cause they fucked up
    where they come from
    Flock to DC..half of the motherfuckers who are moving here are just like you, misinformed and have a country ass backwards way of thinking…it’s funny how u yuppy/buppy motherfucker’s move here and think you are an expert on DC.It’s funny as hell to watch all some of you fuckers sitting on patios of bar’s like Wonderland and the 11th hour acting like your are changing the world..when for the majority of you DC is just a pit stop,not mention that most of you broke asses can’t really afford to live here,a lot of you are drunk’s and closet racist.So fuck off and get a life and stop dividing people with your racist azz !

  • hahaha. dc isnt a black city or a white city. its a city. white people love to lay claim to something by talking about the past and how it used to be “theirs”. even resorting back to old neighborhood names from when it was whiter. ever hear a black person say “swampoodle”? hell no. but you constantly hear about how dc used to be “white” and often the subtext of how black folk messed it up. do you hear yourself say those things? do you get how insulting that is? maybe you want to insult, but that attitude only makes things worse. can you even imagine the pain of decent folks watching their city go to hell? if you’re trying to lay claim to the past, you need to account for the bad shit too. not just how great dc used to be, but how bad black people were treated. do you really want to play that old game?

    so yeah, dc is safer. but for some, its been safer for a long time, and throughout it all there was something to love. everybody has a hard time embracing change to things they love. newer residents should be a little more understanding that there was a dc here that people loved before you got here. you know how everyone comments so much here about crime. it used to be that everyone gathered on the street to worry, and talk, and shake their heads. but that made our community, a real community, strong.

    still, older residents, you got to live in the present. the past is gone. new ways of living are going on. but you already know to be careful.
    all of us have a right to be here. even the drunks, kids, poor, and suburban transplants.

    j-town and 14th/monroe,
    well said.

  • 14th/monroe, dont pretend to know who i am just because of my viewpoints. ive seen poverty, addiction, and hopelessness as close to me, if not closer, than you ever will. i hear the same bullshit about dealing and hustling that you are perpetrating here from friends and family back home… its not just urban areas that are filled with lazy people who claim that its their only way out. you can always change things, as youve seen the ‘yuppies’ do in your community. you can be as racist and nasty about the new white people as you want, but thats not going to stop the progress. things in DC werent working before, and now youre jealous of how quickly they are establishing good lives for themselves here, i get it. you might want to ask yourself how theyre doing it and follow suit though, instead of staying ignorant and spiteful.

  • This site would make a perfect dog park; simply copy the design of the new popular dog park on 17th and S street. They are similar size, so the contracts/design would be easy. Measurable cost savings by using the same design.

    Jim Graham, make it happen!

  • Dear PoP,
    I see you posted some photos on your blog about an art project I recently installed at 14th, Oak and Ogden Streets. Contrary to your comments “I

  • And now the rest of the story (according to the Citypaper)…

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