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For these reasons:

1. the owner was not the cause of the damage;

2. the D.C. Government has been unable to maintain law and


3. demolition contractors are not readily available;

4. the majority of owners are in no financial position to pay for demolition either now or in the future,

it is imperative that the D.C. Government proceed with all expediency to finish the job of demolition and clearance at their cost and expense.

Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Winn, do you have any questions?

Mr. WINN. Mr. Ruppert, you mentioned on the second page of your statement that the insurance companies, if not refusing to renew expiring coverage, are renewing it at six times the manual rate. Can you give me some proof of that?

Mr. RUPPERT. Three separate instances.

Mr. WINN. I would rather have some written documentary evidence. I would like to have something in writing for the record. Also, for my own information.

Mr. RUPPERT. I did send a letter to Senator Sparkman's Committee containing copies of these letters from the insurance companies.

Mr. WINN. Thank you very much. We have heard this, but I see no proof of it anywhere.

I do not know if you are aware of the fact that it is getting to be almost common-day occurrences. We have another big ad in the newspapers this morning, an open letter to the President of the United States and Mayor Washington-Did you see that?

Mr. RUPPERT. No, I did not see that.

Mr. WINN. I will not read it all, but it verifies what you said in your testimony here. The last paragraph says: "We ask you to enforce and re-inforce the law's presence to alter the present climate which keeps salesmen of national manufacturers from visiting our stores in the Washington area because of danger on the streets, and prevents the law-abiding from going about their lawful pursuits. Escalate the war against robbers, arsonists and murderers-to achieve safety in our city and peace at home."

I think that is basically what you said in your testimony here. It seems to me that a few days ago the Mayor was saying that the people of the District of Columbia, the members of Congress were bad-mouthing Washington, and he questioned whether they were cooperating. He was trying, I believe, to blame some of those people for the conditions now prevailing, such as the falling off of trade in the restaurants and the hotels.

Here, this Association, which is a national association, is pointing out the same thing. It is a paid ad in the Washington Post of May 17, this morning.

(The full advertisement referred to follows:)

An Open Letter

to the President of the United States
and the Mayor of Washington

It can happen here. The District of Columbia has become a disaster area and a battleground. The field of combat is clearly defined. It is in the minds of the Jawbreakers- and those who are tempt ed to break the law. Our most powerful weapon must be knowledge that the law will be enforced-fairly and firmly.

The ultimate restraint for the lawless is not jail. It is the possibility of jail. When that possibility is diminished by lax law enforcement, orime becomes a way of life. When lawlessness is blinked at, we're eyeball to eyeball with anarchy; "window shoppers" are encouraged-to break the window. Give a potential crimi nal an inch and he'll take everything he can get, along with human life.

There are those who think that to deplore the increase in the spiral of erime brands one a reactionary. We are not reactionaries but if we did not react to

the growing lawlessness in our city with alarm and protest, we would be irresponxible citizens.

We respectfully urge you, Mr. Presi dent and Mr. Mayor, while you seek from Congress the needed legislation for the disadvantaged, to seek also laws which will protect all citizens from irresponsible elements in the community-and to seek the menus, if in your opinion you do not have them, to suforce those laws. We ask you to saforos and reinforce the low's presenes—to alter the present chmate which keeps saléemen of national manufacturers from visiting our` stores in the Washington area because of danger on the strasts, and prevents the law-abiding from going about their lawful 'pursuits. Escalate me war against robbúrs, arsonists and urderers ≈ to achieve safety ii qur and poncé at home.

Greater Washington Division of


Affiliate of Retail Jewelers of America

Mr. WINN. Do you have any comments on that?

Mr. RUPPERT. I think that the businessmen in the riot areas definitely can feel, as I pointed out in my testimony, it. I mentioned apartments. No one is even interested in looking at these locations. It may not be anywhere near the riot area.

Mr. WINN. Do you handle leasing?

Mr. RUPPERT. We are property managers.

Mr. WINN. You do handle leasing, then?

Mr. RUPPERT. Yes, sir.

Mr. WINN. It will be a big problem for you or those of you who handle properties to lease, particularly in the surrounding territory. Mr. RUPPERT. Yes.

Mr. WINN. And your buildings here, Mr. Ruppert? Are you going to rebuild those buildings?

Mr. RUPPERT. We are in a more-or-less no-man's land there at 7th and New York Avenue. We are above the downtown progress area. We stop at New York Avenue. We are below the Shaw urban renewal area which stops at M Street.

The 1000 and 1100 blocks run from the Library up to M Street. These buildings are located on the west side of 7th Street, and this is within the Federal City College area. I do not know whether it is fully designated at this time as such, but the buildings are so proposed. I think it has been designated as a permanent site for the Federal City College campus. It remains to see how soon they will have to take the properties. At this point, I do not know.

One of the problems that we do run into, even without this thing of being in no-man's land, not knowing what to plan, so many of these properties were burned down that were on narrow lots, and if an owner says: "I would like to rebuild," he had a store that had a 20or 25-foot frontage, and due to the new building code, fire regulations, off-street parking regulations, it is not economically feasible for him to just rebuild to replace what he had there. If he is in a financial position to assemble a larger parcel and to attract other business in to warrant building a bigger, better building, why, it becomes a question. You cannot afford to put in the same one-story building that you were accustomed to for the last 50 years. You would have to build to the highest and best use in order to do that.

Mr. WINN. The bill, H.R. 16948, that is before us would require the District to remove the buildings. Do you think that most people you are acquainted with in that area, whether the District cleans up the rubble or not, will go back into business down there?

I am just trying to get your idea as to whether they will or not. Mr. RUPPERT. The only block that I can speak for is definitely the 1000 block of 7th Street. There are three stores on the corner of 7th Street and New York Avenue, which we manage. They will definitely not go back.

Mr. WINN. They will not go back?

Mr. RUPPERT. It is too small to warrant rebuilding-the area. It is 20-foot frontage. There is a jeweler who has been there all of his lifetime. He lives above the store there. He is not rebuilding. He is not relocating in the same area.

Abramson, located on the corner of L and 7th Streets, he has been there for more than 40 years. He is not rebuilding.

Mr. WINN. What would be your guess-I do not want details-I do not think that we ought to mention names

Mr. RUPPERT. Everyone that has been burned.

Mr. WINN. Would you guess that less than 50 percent are going back in, or what?

Mr. RUPPERT. Everyone that was burned out-these were the only ones that were burned out-will not rebuild.

Mr. WINN. Thank you.

Mr. WHITENER. I note on the first page of your statement you say that these buildings that you were interested in included two apartments and one large rooming house. Were those apartments and the rooming house occupied at the time they were set ablaze?

Mr. RUPPERT. I believe they were, sir. We do not manage the rooming house. We rent it to one tenant and he sublets it. It was occupied, to the best of my knowledge. All of these tenants were living there. They lost all of their possessions.

Mr. WHITENER. Are these tenants members of the Negro race? Mr. RUPPERT. Yes; the two apartments, I believe, on 7th Street, were occupied by members of the white race.

Mr. WHITENER. What about the rooming house?

Mr. RUPPERT. The rooming house was Negro.

Mr. WHITENER. They lost their property?


Mr. WHITENER. And you do not have any authority to speak for the District Government, but do you think those people ought to be given consideration for reimbursement?

Mr. RUPPERT. Well, I think they are, to a certain extent, due to public welfare and the crisis programs, et cetera, and they are being rehoused, given payments for rent and food stamps, et cetera. Probably, it is inadequate, but it is some help.

Mr. WHITENER. Thank you very much, Mr. Ruppert.

We appreciate your being with us.

Our next witness is Mr. Samuel V. Cohen.


Mr. COHEN. Mr. Chairman and Mr. Winn.

Thank you, gentlemen, for this opportunity to appear before you. The bill, H.R. 16948, cosponsored by Congressman Whitener, is a just and equitable one. All of the petitioners appearing before this body have suffered severe losses. They have seen their properties go up in smoke, most of them had their lifetime savings in these properties and, in many instances, their sole source of livelihood was the rental income they received.

At this point, let me state that the police and fire departments did the best they could in view of the restrictions placed upon them by their superior officers, but it was a case of too little and too late. Our National Guard was at least a day or two late making their appearance, and here again I find no fault-they, too, were working under orders.

I have owned my properties and paid taxes on them for over 30 years. I have abided by all the laws and regulations demanded by my City and its Commissioners and its Mayor. In return, I expected that which the law provides for me, namely, the protection of life and property. This I did not receive. I have suffered irreparable harm and a great financial loss in the destruction of these properties. I feel that if my property had been protected for me as provided by law, this condition would never have existed. It is presumptuous on the part of the District Government to demand that we now clear away all of the rubble and debris at our expense.

I, and the other victims in my circumstance, should not pay the price that may be the obligation of the entire community. Why should we be the ones to suffer the result of wholesale disregard for law and order? At best it is a community responsibility. I not only feel that this is their responsibility but, furthermore, I believe that every property owner who has suffered a loss due to these circumstances should be reimbursed for the entire cost of these damaged properties, as these owners were innocent victims.

Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Winn?


Mr. WINN. You said in the first part of your statement, "The police and fire departments did the best they could in view of the restrictions placed upon them by their superior officers."

We have been sitting here for a week trying to get any actual proof of any orders that were issued that they were actually restricted. All that we have been able to ascertain is that the policy came from the Justice Department to the Police Department.

Do you have any actual proof?

I suppose you heard the statement read by the Chairman?

Mr. COHEN. I took particular notice when I was here the other day when the Mayor and the Chief of Police both testified, and I think I am quoting it correctly when they stated that neither one of them gave the orders to the police department not to make arrests. I know, at least I feel, that if you watched television-and I am sure that the rest of these folks here did, too-that something was wrong; that where the order came from—and it had to be an order-I think this body here has a perfectly right to find out-I think if you convened a grand jury and called in some of these policemen, and I think it is very important to our city, and I would promise them immunity and see to that they get it from the rest of the police department, you will find the real truth back of this order. But, as I said before, if you watched television and you saw a policeman standing by, that is not our police department.

Mr. WINN. I appreciate that. I have been sitting here a week or so trying to get the answer. I think it is more confusing now than it was before, because it seems to be that there was not an actual order that was issued anywhere. But I agree with you, from remarks from policemen and plainclothesmen, that they understood that they were to follow this policy that seems to have been sent down through the ranks. I think there is something funny there.

As a member of the Committee, I was trying to find out.

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