As told to Akintola Hanif | Images by Akintola Hanif
Al Tarik-Onque was born and raised in Baxter Terrace, a low-rise public housing project on Orange and Nesbitt Streets built in 1941 and demolished in 2009. He is Senior Aide to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and co-founder of Stop Shootin’ Inc., a city-based anti-violence organization.
You know what made me feel like I was part of a community at Baxter Terrace? I could go in a good 90 percent of people’s homes, sit on the couch and go in the refrigerator. I’m talking about the whole community. It was that kind of love. When they announced plans to demolish it, people had a lot of questions. Why we gotta leave? Why can’t they just repair it? Why don’t I have a choice? What neighborhood am I going to? Who helps me with moving, I can’t afford to move...They were frustrated. But somehow the entity that handles this, the Newark Housing Authority, never knew how to tell them: this is what happens, this is the truth. It would come backward or watered down or half of the story.
They never told the people they were about to displace, we gonna move you to some fucked up neighborhoods. You think Baxter Terrace is bad? You might have to go to Stratford. You Crip? We gonna send you to Bradley Court. They all Blood up there. Anyone that was in good standing, all their bills paid, up to date, they would move first. People who had back rent, disputes, they had a hearing, eviction notices. You can imagine the scenarios. Some people were never actually placed. They just gave up. READ MORE