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on the securing of the building, that certain buildings had been gutted, that they were open to the public, and that if we would secure the building by boarding it up it would comply with the letter.
In compliance therewith, the owners had a contractor secure the building by boarding up all access thereto. In the meantime, proposals were invited from local demolition companies. Mr. Chairman, the estimates were shocking.
Only recently did I have the opportunity to read the language of H.R. 16948, pending before you this morning. I understand the intent of the bill is to place the performance and financial burden on the District for the demolition and removal of debris of those structures destroyed during the riots of early April.
It is my further understanding that the thought prompting the introduction of this bill stems from the irrefutable evidence that property owners in the affected areas were wholly without protection of their property by either civil or military forces.
With this I most heartily concur. The affected citizens carry a substantial tax burden by virtue of ownership of property in the District of Columbia. Reasonable men would certainly have to agree that the right to levy taxation carries with it the responsibility to protect such property, and failure to so protect, generates a strong moral obligation to assist the taxpayer where demolition is required and so ordered.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for permitting me to express my views. Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Winn?
Mr. WINN. Admiral, the Washington Post this morning carries an article about arson. This article says: "Two fires set by arsonists and three begun by children playing with matches were reported by the Fire Department yesterday. One fire involved a three-story apartment house already partially destroyed by four previous fires." Admiral NAQUIN. I read that this morning.
Mr. WINN. There was another article, either in this morning's Post or last night's Star, that gave a recap of the total number of arson fires in the last 30 days. It is unbelievable. It is just fantastic, and this is no criticism of our Fire Department in the District. They probably are running all over like mad trying to cover these things as fast as these people set them.
According to this news article, there was one at 701 Q Street, Northwest, and the officials said that the building had been set afire four times since last month's civil disturbance and said that yesterday's fire was arson.
PRECEDENTS FROM THIS LEGISLATION
The reason that I bring this up is that I think this pertains to H.R. 16948, in the fact that if we were to allow the District of Columbia to clean up the rubble from the riots, I am afraid that the city might get into the business of cleaning up after anybody who might, accidently or on purpose, set fire to any of the buildings in the District of Columbia. We might be authorizing a racket where a businessman decides to burn his place down because business is not good and then collect the insurance.
Admiral NAQUIN. I have been aware of that.
Mr. WINN. Some have felt that "when in doubt, burn the building
down and collect the insurance." I am sure that that might have been one of the reasons that the Chairman was asking about it.
You boarded your buildings up. Will your wife and her sister be going back into business?
Admiral NAQUIN. Not in that building. It is a total loss.
Mr. WINN. It is a total loss?
Admiral NAQUIN. Yes. I stated that. It is a total loss. It has been fired three times. Incidentaly, the third time it was written up in the Washington Post-quite a piece about it.
Mr. WINN. Do you feel and do your wife and her sister feel that it is arson?
Admiral NAQUIN. It was so reported.
Mr. WINN. It was so reported by the Fire Department?
Admiral NAQUIN. By the Fire Department. The thing that disturbed me is that in this last one where there was quite a conflaguration; firemen were up on the ladders trying to isolate it-apparently, there was a large amount of inflammable, volatile material placed in this building by these arsonists and they said that they barely escaped with their lives.
Mr. WINN. They were risking their lives with the second and third fires?
Admiral NAQUIN. They were using these old buildings as training grounds. That is the way that it appears to me.
Mr. WINN. I had not heard it put that way, but I think that you are probably right.
Have you talked to any of the other merchants in that area about whether they are going back into business?
Admiral NAQUIN. Only one and he said that he would not return. Mr. WINN. That he would not return?
Admiral NAQUIN. No.
Mr. WINN. Do you know or do you have any guess as to what the percentage would be that would go back?
Admiral Naquin, are you having any trouble in collecting your insurance?
Admiral NAQUIN. It is not collected.
Mr. WINN. Is there a question about it?
Admiral NAQUIN. I believe there is no question.
It is in the hands of the adjuster. The adjuster files his report, and he says that it will take time.
Mr. WINN. Do you think that the District of Columbia should help the people in cleaning up the remains of these buildings?
Do you think that the city might be taking on something that will be a Pandora's box?
Admiral NAQUIN. I would not think so. I would extend assistance, as the chairman raised the question a few minutes ago, to these people who have lost their livelihood and dwellings which happen to be above the stores. These people are in dire need of assistance. They have to take the insurance money and live off of it. You will deplete their resources for investing in that building or whatever you have; it is a kind of assistance that should be had-generally, there is a strong moral obligation due to the fact of the riots.
Mr. WINN. Do you agree with Mr. Warden that the insurance will probably not cover the value of the building you have?
Admiral NAQUIN. I think this is correct.
Mr. WINN. What percentage would that be; would you guess?
Mr. WHITENER. Admiral Naquin, in the five stores which are operating in your wife's and her sister's building, do you have any idea how many employees are now out of work because of this?
Admiral NAQUIN. I would approximate it, sir. These five stores were divided later into three stores; two stores on the alley operated in one store. This was a clothing company operated by a Negro, a very nice haberdashery. I do not know how many people he employed. I would say three or four. The middle store was operated by a jeweler. I think he and his wife operated this store. The corner store was a long, established florist who had been there for many years. I think at least six or eight people were employed there.
Mr. WHITENER. So that we are talking in terms of an economic loss in this instance, and this $24 million picture about the buildings which have been destroyed is really not the total story.
Admiral NAQUIN. It is not at all. People have lost their incomes. They have lost their jobs. And where these people will go is another question.
Mr. WHITENER. Admiral Naquin, I assume from having been a rear admiral in the Navy that you had collateral duty, at least, in the enforcement of the law and discipline. Do you have any philosophy or thoughts about what should be done in the future to forestall this type of disturbance?
Admiral NAQUIN. Yes, sir. I believe that the only way to meet this is with force. This is why we have discipline on the ships. The commanding officer operates under a set of regulations that are clear to everyone. The Articles for the Government of the Navy are read periodically to the officers and to the crew so that there can be no misunderstanding as to where the authority lies. And they are enforced. There are many avenues of enforcing discipline aboard the ship, from the minor restrictions of going ashore to imprisonment.
And the way to put this thing down, in my opinion, is to meet it headon with force. These people are not people who will listen to reason. This is, as I see it.
Mr. WHITENER. As you so well point out, this fine Negro businessman probably had his life's work involved in his men's clothing store. He has been wiped out.
Admiral NAQUIN. He is completely wiped out. I think he had insurance on his stock to some extent. What it was, I do not know.
Mr. WHITENER. In a note in the Washington Post this morning, that there was recommended mandatory minimum sentences to be imposed for those who, for a second time, committed a crime of violencewho were engaged a second time in such. And another recommendation was that the judges be required to give a mandatory minimum sentence to defendants for repeating offenses generally.
The anti-crime law (P.L. 90-226, approved December 27, 1967) that I had the privilege of offering, had a mandatory punishment in such
cases, particularly for a crime of violence. We originally had in that bill other mandatory minimum sentences, and yet there was a big argument, all the way from the halls of the House and the Senate to the White House, that there was something evil about mandatory sentences. And the President vetoed my earlier bill (H.R. 5688 of the 89th Congress), and in his message this is one of the points that he raised as justification for vetoeing it.
I do not follow that philosophy myself, but having been a man who has had experience in commanding ships, I assume, and in naval activities, do you feel that there is anything improper about a person knowing at anytime that if he commits a certain crime of violence, he is going to have to serve at least a certain period of time?
Admiral NAQUIN. Like a mandatory sentence?
Mr. WHITENER. Yes, and if convicted a second time of burglary, for example, that the judge will not have the authority to suspend the sentence and place him on probation?
Admiral NAQUIN. If we are going to control it, it seems that mandatory sentences are mandatory, as I see it.
Mr. WHITENER. Thank you very much, Admiral Naquin. We appreciate your being with us.
Our next witness is Mr. Raymond Ruppert.
We will be glad to hear you now.
STATEMENT OF RAYMOND R. RUPPERT, REALTOR, 1017 7TH STREET, NORTHWEST, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. RUPPERT. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen.
I am a resident of the District of Columbia, a D.C. Real Estate Broker, and am a member of the Washington Board of Realtors, Inc. Our firm is a member of the Midtown Business Association. Our family business has been located in the 1000 block of 7th Street, N.W., since 1890.
We owned and managed three buildings located at 1000-04 7th Street, 703 Mt. Vernon Place and 1143 7th Street, Northwest, which, until April 5th of this year produced a monthly income of over $700. On the night of April 5th these buildings which consisted of four stores, two apartments and one large rooming house were looted and burned. By Monday, April 8th, they had been razed by the D.C. Government to piles of rubble.
On the afternoon of April 5th, I witnessed, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., youths and young adults aged approximately 10 to 30, ranging up and down the 1000 block of 7th Street, Northwest, breaking show windows and looting at will. There was one helmeted policeman present, directing traffic at 7th and New York Avenue, Northwest, at 2:30 p.m. that afternoon. There is nothing derogatory against the policemen on the street in that statement. I think they did a wonderful job.
Approximately one week later, on April 11, 1968, we received notification from the D.C. Government to proceed within 24 hours to demolish and remove the debris from the above-mentioned burned-out premises. This order came from the Department of Licenses and Inspections under the authority of the law pertaining to the removal of unsafe buildings which would normally come under the control of
the Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings. Under normal circumstances said Condemnation Board takes action against the owner of Insanitary Buildings with the knowledge that said owner had prior knowledge as to the condition of his building and had adequate time within which to make the necessary repairs or remodeling. In this current case the owner had no prior knowledge and did not in any way cause, or allow to be caused, the damage that was suffered on April 5, 1968.
On April 11, 1968, I called two demolition contractors with whom we had dealt regularly in the past. To date I have received bids from neither one. Last week one of these contractors did call me to state that he had run into the following problems:
1. A job on 14th Street, Northwest, which should have taken three days was running into its third week due to the spectators throwing rocks and bricks at the work crews.
2. His insurance company had refused to insure the party walls on his job.
It is my firm belief that as long as the rubble remains on the streets as evidence of past violence it will continue to generate new violence. There has been a fire or a burglary or a looting on the 1000-to-1100 blocks of 7th Street, Northwest, every day since the weekend of April 5th. We have employed a security guard to protect our premises every night since May 1, 1968. Tenants coming into my office are fearful of what has happened and what may happen. Prospective tenants refuse to consider in-town northwest locations.
The plumbers, electricians, and stove repair men performing services for us are subject to a minimum of verbal abuse every day. The stove repair firm sends a minimum of two men on every job these days, whereas prior to April 5th, they would send one man. Other repair men have been chased off of their jobs-jobs which are being done in compliance with orders written by the Housing Division. Insurance companies, if not refusing to renew expiring coverage because "the property does not meet our underwriting requirements", are renewing at six times the "Manual" rate.
Many of the above problems arise due to the inability of the Police Department to maintain law and order.
And my day-to-day is not complete if, every afternoon between 3 and 5 o'clock, I do not hear one fire department engine going up 7th Street.
Even if, in normal times, the owner of a destroyed property were financially capable of completing the demolition and clearance of said property at his own cost and expense, under the conditions existing today, he is barely able to maintain his other properties-if he has any from which to draw income-much less bear the additional and unforeseeing expense of demolition of the destroyed property.