By Gabriel Roshan
This month, revolutionary mass organization Serve the People–Charlotte (STP-C) led two actions against gentrifying business Allegra Printing and Marketing. On February 12, a boycott of Allegra was announced to the masses in Brookhill and on February 22 STP-C presented a list of demands to Matt Kinser, the president of Allegra Southend. The momentum of the boycott culminated in militant action being taken against a condominium complex called South Point at Southend, with walls being spray-painted with hammers and sickles and windows being broken. No group has claimed responsibility for the tagging.
Allegra Printing and Marketing is a national graphic design and marketing company that boasts over 180 locations across the country. In North Carolina, they have eleven, with two of those located in Charlotte. Allegra Southend has been in Brookhill since early 2018, absorbing locally-owned M&M printing.
Brookhill is mainly surrounded by longstanding convenience, check-cashing, and other grocery stores. Capitalizing on the low rent in the Black working-class neighborhood, Allegra is providing an unwanted and horrifying face-lift to a popular neighborhood.
In October 2018, Allegra graphic designer Keith Henderson was asked by STP-C volunteers to sign on to their community front against gentrification. “I can’t wait until Brookhill is gone, it’s filled with the worst type of people, drug dealers and welfare abusers,” Henderson responded. “Once it’s gone Southend can finally have good shopping and not be bothered by the people around here.”
Tensions between Allegra and the community defense of Brookhill have since escalated. During the February 12 rally, protesters led by STP-C walked over to a new condo development in the area, South Point at Southend, which is in the process of being built. “Just like Allegra,” the speaker said, “these condos are slowly tightening the noose of gentrification around the neck of Brookhill.”
Last Friday, STP-C showed up at Allegra’s front steps with signs that read “Defend Brookhill” and “Boycott Allegra,” seeking to present a list of demands to Kinser. He refused to let them inside the store but STP-C still read the demands outside, where Kinser immediately began filming the militants and proceeded to call the cops.
The demands were, “1. Fire Keith Henderson immediately 2. Publicly apologize for racist remarks towards residents of Brookhill 3. Sign on to the growing list of activists, community members and businesses who oppose the demolition of Brookhill.”
After the speech was read, the demands were taped onto his door reassuring him that the boycott would continue until they are met. As STP-C left, they chanted “Charlotte’s not just for the rich, we won’t move another inch!”
STP-C made it clear that Allegra is just the first business to be targeted but in the future any business or art gallery that seeks to help gentrify Brookhill will be subject to boycotts and further militant tactics.
The constant displacement of working-class families by parasitic landlords must be fought against relentlessly. There is only one way to stop gentrification and that’s through revolution!