How I Almost Got My Ass Kicked (Again)

In the almost two years of writing this blog I’ve only had a couple of frightening encounters. I wrote about the first time here. Well, in getting the material for this blog I generally walk between 10-15 miles over the weekends. During those walks I’ve pretty much gotten to “know” most of the corner boys along my usual routes. So I was stunned when in broad daylight I was accosted by some corner boys. It was in an area between Columbia Heights and Petworth but one that I’ve walked hundreds of times. So, I notice a house that I thought might make a “good deal or not?” post. I take out my note pad and write down the address. Simple enough. Well, apparently, a corner boy thought I was a narc or something because he comes flying over to me yelling “what are you writing!?! what do you got in that book!?!”. I’m happy to say I didn’t shit myself. I was surprisingly quite calm given that there were about 6 other corner boys a few steps behind the “leader” questioning me. Anyway, I calmly say, “you see that house over there for sale? I’m writing down the address so I can look it up when I go home.” The corner boy looks at the book that I’m holding and sees the address I had just written was indeed the address of a house for sale. Then the funniest thing in the world happened. He became nice as hell, no, he practically became a real estate agent. I guess once he realized I wasn’t a threat, he says “oh that’s a great house, you should check it out, go knock on the door…”. It was quite the change of tone I can assure you. I guess there is a lesson in here somewhere…

48 Comment

  • that’s happened to me a couple of times. i’ve been approached by seemingly hostile corner boys only to react boredly or not at all and have them totally do an about face and become very nice and welcoming. i have a friend who grew up in the hood who says they’re specifically looking for white folks who are scared of blacks. i guess it’s kind of a “cool” test. interesting, eh?

  • Perhaps the lesson lies somewhere in exploring your use of the term “corner boy”?… Or am I just way behind the “lingo” of the day?

  • hmmm, reminds me of walking past a drug house that was for sale (that’s another post, it sold, yay!!!), and the dudes on the porch saw me walk by and were yelling out “it’s yours for 600K” (it was for sale for 315K) and were asking if I wanted to come in and take a look. yeah, right. But anyway, they are entrepreneurs.

  • this isnt an ‘alls well that ends well’ kind of thing…the little thug still yelled and confronted you for no reason at all, so who cares how nice he was after you explained yourself… you should really carry pepper spray and use it liberally!

  • Corner boys = Crew = Gang

  • If you ask me this is just part of the rude, DC attitude that so many people are fed up with. I don’t care if they ended up nice, they started off hostile and that is just darn right rude.

  • I don’t know if I would describe that experience as “interesting.” I would call it more “unacceptable” or, even better, “the reason why more people don’t want to move to this neighborhood.”

  • i’m glad PoP is safe…

  • I’ll tell you one lesson you learned, you learned that if you didn’t call the police that the blood of the next person he attacks is on your hands. Maybe he’ll rape someone because you didn’t get him busted. Let’s have the woman he rapes up as a guest blogger.

    PoP, you are a damn fool, a sad damned fool.

  • I agree with GeorgiaAve. — once you didn’t respond to their hostility, they tried another tactic. Imagine if you had knocked on the door.

  • My wife reminded me that “Corner boys” is slang term for gay prostitutes or hustlers. disregard my comment on the rape scenario. But still, even though they’re rent boys, their behavior is not acceptable in American society.

  • Really Neener, what could PoP really do? Go to the police and say what? I was walking down the street and some guy came running over demanding to see what was on my pad. He scared the shit out of me at first but then after I showed him he became nice. He never assaulted him or anything so what do you expect the police are going to do? Walk to that corner and arrest him? No, they aren’t going to do anything and that guy is gonna sit there doing what he does best and PoP will never be able to walk past there again without actually getting his assed kicked.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Ed note: Corner boys are drug dealers. And the are actually quite young or boys. And they actually sell drugs on the corner. Thus, corner boys. Didn’t you guys watch the Wire? It is very similar in that regard.

  • Neener: It’s rape, huh? You make a lot of assumptions. Maybe the yeller is more interested in men and was sizing PoP up (and was turned off by the Old Spice he liberally splashes on).

    Or maybe he is an aspiring actor and was working on his “hard” persona so he can someday get to Broadway like those tap-dancing, clean-cut, well-spoken fellers you love so much.

  • Had something similar happen when I was taking pictures of the Petworth Metro development… GIANT foreman or something from the construction site walks over, looms in my face and asks why I’m taking pictures, what was I going to do with them. Big smile on his face, but the intent to intimidate was obvious. I told him I was a neighbor and was just into construction in general. He seemed OK with that and became all friendly.

  • I think PoP will be totally safe there now that he’s ID’d himself to the local authority (the neighborhood drug dealer).

    Most dealers are smart enough these days to distance themselves from the street crime and problems caused by drug users who need quick cash. PoP isn’t a narc, as these kids now know, so now they’ll be pleased as punch to have him around. he’s a potential new buyer, after all.

    And Neener: flame off, please.

  • @Steve – “Corner boys = Crew = Gang”

    Just a quick correction for you Steve, crew does not equal gang. There is a difference and even the police formally use the two terms to describe two different types of groups.

  • what is the difference between a crew and a gang exactly?

  • This is cute until you run into one that beats the hell out of you anyway. This is not some reality show where noone gets hurt. PoP, there are some real live killers and robbers out here.

    My advice to you is avoid the younger ones. I don’t care how innocent and precocious they look. The young ones will drop you in a minute. You’ll be dead or injured and he’ll be out of juvenile before you even get the hospital bill

  • Take5-

    hell yeah thats right. its the reason i moved my ass and family out of the ‘hood and into Ward 3. funny thing, all the people on my street are pleasant and say hello and there are no corner boys aside from the kids playing basketball.

    i cannot understand why someone would pay the same money to live in CH that they could to live in Ward 3, if you’re hell bent on living in the District.

    and dont tell me its for diversity. i’ve got foreign nationals, gays, blacks, jews, and even republicans living nearby.

  • I fall asleep just driving through ward 3. and no effin duh there are republicans there.

  • for the uninformed-which neighborhoods are in ward 3?

  • I Googled Ward 3, and found this blog (it’s been inactive since March).

    Ward 3 are areas like Tenleytown, Woodley Park, Friendship Heights, etc. And I agree, those are nice neighborhoods, but if someone wants to live in Petworth or Columbia Heights, that person has the right to do such as well.

  • Oh boy, the hipsters are feisty today!

  • Is there a formal definition that the police use for Hipster?

  • @cristobal – “what is the difference between a crew and a gang exactly?”

    A crew is relatively small and loose group of friends with little organization. Some kids hanging on the corner, perhaps small time slinging of rock, causing general mischief is the usual look of a “crew”. This is the majority of DC.

    A gang is a large organized group. It often has a hierarchy, its own colors and markings, initiations and customs, etc. It involves itself on a large scale in drug rings and other illegal activities. Fortunately DC doesn’t seem to have a large presence of gangs like bloods crips ms13 Latinkings, etc. Though you do here a story or two about ms13 every once in awhile.

  • the hostilty and the intimadation are scary but i get so angry at the people trying to intimadate me i forget to watch out for myself. im exceedingly tired of the “fists first” attitude of many d.c. residents……p.s. i do it too these days

  • Another important note dealing with dogs, owners, and young urban youth. I have twice been harshly yelled at because my dogs love to go the bathroom either near their house or on gated small brush adjacent to the sidewalk leading up to their house. Since it is so close to mine I drag my dog the the other side of the road to before he can pee. They called me a direspectful ^&(90 and some other choice terms. My dogs also like to go #2 in front of cops. It is like clockwork.

  • I would suspect that the line that differentiates between crews and gangs is blury. When crews get guns, do they graduate to something else? I suspect a lot of the shootings are prepetrated by crews and not gangs.

  • DC had many fully-organized gangs as recently as 10 years ago that were shut down by the copys. MS-13 yes, but also Brown Union and Mara 18 or some such organization in Adams Morgan. They were all Latin.

    Because of the FBI presence in this town, there was never any Italian or European Mafia in DC ever and anyone suggesting it is wrong. I’ve heard about one of Nicky Scarfo’s gang opening some clubs and dealing in prostitution in DC in the 1970s, but that’s it.

    Edmunds was a distributor of crack, but I believe while he was organized crime, he was not organized crime in the sense that the crews worked for him- they did not. Again, with the FBI right here no one ever got big right here.

    Lastly, from the 1950s-1970s the white organized crime in the suburbs was handled by the Pagans motorcycle gang. The Pagans were very active as close in as Bladensburgh and Frederick. When talking about organized crime in DC, people always forget that the Pagans were the ONLY 1% biker gang in DC in the 1960s.

    I would like Odentex, who doubts me on Bloods contacting people in crews in 2008, to correct me on any of the above (except Mara 18, I know I don’t remember the name of that gang).

  • also it’s important to remember that in Chicago and Los Angeles, if you graffiti you are marking territory and when you cross someone’s gang name out then you are threatening to kill them.

    In DC this is not true.

    In DC if you write up your gang name it’s just a tag and crossing someone else’s name out is just insulting them.

  • I’m sure if someone really lives in Ward 3 from Petworth then they’re renting an apartment on Connecticut ave like Van Ness/UDC or Cleveland Park.

    I have a house my wife and I used to call our “dream house” as a joke, but when it went up for sale it sold for $1.75 million. In other words, buying a house in CH or in Ward 3 is not comparable, but perhaps paying someone else for one’s apartment is.

  • My expert opinion is that a lot of these shootings are perpetrated by people who have a gun.

  • the gang I was trying to name was La Mara R and their sworn enemies were Brown Union and Vatos Locos, if people remember them.

  • Neener: I totally defer to your street cred. I am sure your first hand knowledge about “1%er’s” (even though you called them “1%” above, sorta like a carton of milk) puts the work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson to shame, just like your crack undercover work with the “corner boys” confirming the existence of the “bloods” menace sweeping DC is backed up by extensive research (i.e., reading the Examiner on the Red Line). True, these haters that don’t know nothin’ the insidious nature of “the thug life” like you do might say that this “crisis” involving the bloods has been awfully quiet, without any official notice, and has resulted in zero reported crimes and zero confirmed arrests for members in DC — but that’s just all part of their sneaky gang plan — making it all the more sinister and real (and, after all, it was in the Examiner). Further, your seminal experiences as a MS-13 gun moll cannot be discounted.

    No Neener, I cannot doubt your wealth of knowledge about “the street”. After all, if it wasn’t for your courageous reportage about Harlem, and the alternatives that tap dancing for coin can bring to young coloreds, what would a beleaguered city like DC do?

    Personally I can’t wait till you school us all on the benefits of the shine box to elevate the yoofs.

  • @Steve – “DCist shoots the crew vs gang difference all to crap, using them interchangably:”

    Well Steve I love DCist too but at the end of the day it is just a blog with little expertise in anything. I prefer to have a more knowledgeable source like say the MPD.

    From the linked pdf (page 2):
    “A Gang is a group of individuals that band together for a common cause and are involved in criminal activity. Many gangs are highly organized and operate across state lines. A crew is a more loosely-knit group, often based on a neighborhood. These are usually individuals who grew up in or who have family roots in that neighborhood. Regardless of Gang or Crew affiliation, both groups are often associated with a variety of crimes, including narcotics trafficking, gun violations, assaults, and even homicides. Female gangs or crews are growing in DC as well. Gang violence is “a community problem.” Think about it!”

  • It’s all too complicated…I just got back to pondering what a hippster is. It helps clear my mind!

  • “A Gang is a group of individuals that band together for a common cause and are involved in criminal activity. Many gangs are highly organized and operate across state lines. A crew is a more loosely-knit group, often based on a neighborhood.”

    So, according to MPD, Enron was a “gang”, and the liquor store on Georgia Avenue that consistently tries to cheat me out of mah change is a “crew”.

    I’m glad we got that sorted out.

  • What was the Pst Gang…a gang that happened to be a crew or a crew that called itself a gang? Grasshopper, when you have answered this question, you will fully understand the universe.

  • Your post ends sounding positive/optimistic as if you were accepted by the thugs in some way and are in good terms with them. If you think this is true, then you are delusional. Just because they changed their demenor, doesn’t mean they won’t stab you in the back for your wallet next time you walk by.

    Next time take a picture of them. lol.

  • Steve: What I really need to know is were the Jets and the Sharks crews or gangs?

  • Ummmm … I can see the relevance in recognizing the difference between a gang and a crew if you’re a law enforcement higher-up or a social scientist planning grand macro solutions for all our domestic ailments, but from the perspective of a guy walking down the street getting assaulted by these thugs (and yes, it was assault as described by PoP), does it really matter? If you’re drawing those lines to differentiate the acceptability of these thugs’ actions, you’re probably more a part of the problem than not. Kids hanging out and selling drugs and making a threatening approach with the intent to intimidate someone minding his own business on a public sidewalk — I don’t care if they’re a crew or a gang, the end result is the same from the perspective of the passer by. Start calling the cops. Quit rolling over and letting the urban terrorism get a free pass just because you didn’t end up with your ass kicked this time.

  • # Anonymous Says:
    August 25th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    … i have a friend who grew up in the hood who says they’re specifically looking for white folks who are scared of blacks. i guess it’s kind of a “cool” test. interesting, eh?


    I’ve been confronted by hostile teenagers in a similar fashion and I’m unmistakeably Black. Tell your friend from the “hood” that this is not always the case. Black on black crime is far more prevalent than Black on White crime.

    Besides, “white folk” don’t necessarily hold a track record of good intentions with regard to Black folk…In an ironic way, these teenagers are really the ones who have reason to be scared.

  • Neener picks up his “street” knowledge from surfing Wikipedia on a laptop at Starbucks.

  • I have to say my streets “cornerboys” (never heard that term before) are very protective of the neighborhood. Which is really cool. They noticed I wasn’t home over the last week and told me they made sure to look after my place. It’s not the first time they’ve noticed too!

  • for girls only

    All you need to do is be an out of control white girl who is drunk and looking for a fight walkin home at night.
    CRAZY BEBOPS scare the shit out of SONS everytime. RESPECT? I dunno. Call it a fear among us. The unpredictable back at ya.

  • Someday the District needs to consider changing its policy toward youth criminal enforcement and citizens ability to gain access to the criminal intelligence that exists on some of our misguided youth. My car was stolen by a 14 year old from the hood, who actually also rammed the cop car with the stolen vehicle!!! I as the victim under the new law actually had access to his name (hard to believe there was a time not too long ago when even the victim couldn’t get the juves name). But even though he was caught red handed (ramming a police car with a stolen vehicle), prosecuters didn’t go forward with anything (let his young ass go scot-free) and he is likely still out there running around with his crew. Adults should take this head on in a more organized way, I see it now, Most Wanted List of Young Punk Thugs in the District. Running around at night beating the crap out of young women, intimidating neighbors, acting all tough, packing heat. Dude took two to the chest kind of attitude. Goin’ downtown huh kind of attidude. Cops, teachers, schools, neighbors, friends, grandparents know who they are, it all just seems ignored. Perhaps it’s actually the image DC strives for? Writing parking tickets and young punk thugs. It’s just a shame….

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