Davenport, Iowa (Quad-City Times) — Willie Shorter woke up early Tuesday morning, donned some heavy canvas overalls and a thick knit hat, and found a pair of gloves.
His anger didn’t need to be warmed.
Shorter, 52, who has lived in The Heritage, 501 W. 3rd St., Davenport, for the past five years, grabbed a makeshift sign he wrote Monday and hit Third Street’s frozen pavement. Shorter was bound for Davenport City Hall one block up.
“I’m tired of being called (racial slurs) by some of the other people who live in The Heritage,” Shorter said from behind the two disposable masks stretched over his mouth and nose.
“I’m tired of asking for help, asking to be heard, and never getting anything back from anyone,” Shorter continued as he stood in weather that couldn’t push the mercury past 25 degrees.
Shorter and a number of other residents have a fairly lengthy list of grievances against The Heritage, a city-owned building that offers Section 8 rental-assistance. The 120-apartment building, Shorter alleges, isn’t properly cleaned, COVID-19 “spread through the building,” the Davenport Police are called to respond to spurious complaints against Black residents, and a laundry room used by a number of Black residents was vandalized with animal feces.
Three other residents — all of whom wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation — confirmed Shorter’s story.
Shorter said he tried to speak with Mayor Mike Matson, visited the city’s Civil Rights Commission and has reached out to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
While Shorter stood outside City Hall, Davenport Director of Community and Economic Development Bruce Berger said the city is taking Shorter’s complaints “seriously.”
“We have spoken with Mr. Shorter and asked him to start the process to detail his allegations about one of the residents of The Heritage,” Berger said. “We asked Mr. Shorter to submit a written complaint about the person — or persons — verbally harassing him. HUD also has a system in place to help Mr. Shorter.”
Berger also encouraged Shorter to file a police complaint.
“I spoke with the Davenport Police this morning, and they confirmed Mr. Shorter did file a police report,” Berger said.
Berger also addressed the issue of the building’s cleaning standards and the rumor that a number of The Heritage’s residents died from COVID-19-related causes.
“We do have cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place, and we are confident the management of the building is following those protocols,” Berger said. “A number of residents were infected with COVID-19, and the Scott County Health Department handled contract tracing and counseling residents.
“We can’t comment on any of the individual residents.”
Berger said the city didn’t want to see anyone harassed — especially the residents of public housing.
Out on the frozen pavement in front of Davenport City Hall, Shorter suggested too much damage has been done.
“I found out there’s only so many times you can be called a (racial slur),” he said as he held his handmade sign. “The fact is it isn’t smart to speak out too much about these things. But I’m fed up.
“So I’m going to stand out here until I get to talk to more people or the police drag me off.”
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.