The Definitive Account of the Shooting at 14th and Fairmont

Following is the incredible story of the shooting at 14th and Fairmont that took place on August 16, 2008. Chris Henderson is a local freelance writer, and you can find more of her work at Ed. note: Names with an asterisk have been changed to protect the identity of minors.

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A shooting, a fight, and a clash of realities

By Chris Henderson

At 7:35 p.m. on August 16, 2008 the sun sparkled down on the tail end of a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Columbia Heights. Just down the street from the new DC USA mall, the sidewalks around the split intersection of 14th and Fairmont Street NW were carpeted with teen-agers and kids, walking, hanging out, chatting and playing in the 83-degree weather. Upstairs I sat by my window revising a blog post and enjoying the abundant sunshine in my room.

Then there were two loud, sharp pops, deeper than fireworks. Then three or four more, and as I got up to look, the deluge began.

Everywhere across the intersection bodies ducked, twisted to look, then ran, flooding down toward my half of the split intersection. Half of them suddenly paused, reacting to something, then sprinted further down the street or melted into the buildings. All the while I counted, automatically, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-oh shit that’s not just one gun—split-second pause—1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-those shots are too close together and they’re not stopping—the phone was in my hand to dial 911 and suddenly the barrage stopped. A couple of shots had been followed by the sharp ping of metal on metal, and somewhere in there I thought I remembered hearing tires speeding away on pavement. My phone read 7:38 p.m.

As the operator picked up, I watched one security guard run across 14th street and jog back. A second guard darted diagonally across the intersection, looked, then suddenly booked it back, hunched as if he expected more shots to follow him. None came. My roommate remembered him yelling “he’s down!” or “get down!”

On the phone the operator kept asking me how many shots were fired. I could only answer, over and over, “I don’t know. There were so many. We need police here NOW!” The first squad cars rushed the intersection as I told her my address. I got off the phone, took a breath, then grabbed a camera and ran to the elevator.

I didn’t know that the shocked silence downstairs was only the intermission.


About five minutes earlier, Jerome* was walking from Malcolm X Park with his friends. As he turned to go up 14th Street, he saw an “all-black car, tinted windows, tinted windshield, black rims” turn off of Euclid onto University Place, driving toward Fairmont Street.

As they walked up the east side of 14th street toward the intersection with Fairmont, Jerome remembers seeing the car on the 1400 block of Fairmont Street. He said someone in the car “threw something out the window and shot four times.” When the shooting started, Jerome remembers one of his friends somehow jumped the side fence of the Faircliff Plaza East Apartments at 1350 Fairmont Street; another grabbed his bike and rode off north toward the new Target. As Jerome watched, “people were shooting back, then the car started moving around… it whipped through the intersection… then drove off” down Fairmont Street. He also remembered a man hiding behind the electrical box on his side of the intersection while someone shot at him.

Jerome said he had time to walk back to his house, midway down the 1300 block of Fairmont Street, before anything else happened.

Britney* was coming down the stairs of 1401 Fairmont Street when “a gold car came by” and she heard shooting. The wall next to the building is a popular hangout since it offers a long row of seating, and some teen-agers she knew were out there. She heard what she thought was “a machine gun, I don’t know, cuz all you hear is brrrrrr.” Britney said, “the car people shot first,” then the people sitting on the wall “started shootin’ back at them.” She said two main people were involved, but “ain’t nobody innocent.”

As soon as the shooting stopped she joined others gathered on the porch. She found out someone had been hit.

Leander* was walking from the new Recreation Center on Girard Street when he saw a “goldish car” with a black top and dark tinted windows, big “like a Cadillac.” It paused by a white house at the intersection of University Place and Fairmont Street. He remembered it being full of people, “way more than four.” He said it sped up to go down the block, then slowed down as it got near the wall next to 1401 Fairmont. “I heard gun shots and I ducked… I hit the ground before I thought about it.”

Leander remembered seeing his cousin get hit by a bullet, and said “he ran, and his brother backed him up, started shootin’.” He also saw “a guy shootin’ at something, right there by the gate” in front of the wall by 1401 Fairmont. “He was wearing a pale blue shirt.” Leander remembered a man in a red shirt as well, and thought that the two shooters in front of 1401 Fairmont may have been shooting at the man in the red shirt as well as the car.

He said the “SPOs” or “special police” from the Faircliff Apartment complex came over, saw the boy who had been shot, and started chasing the brother who had been shooting back.

Two other people remembered seeing the same man in a red shirt that Leander described. A man from the New Amsterdam Apartments who gave his name as John said he saw a man in a red shirt and blue jeans run down to Euclid street, while another person ran past the building into the alley.

A second man who declined to give his name said the shooting was not a drive-by, “it was three guys shootin’ at each other.” From his window, he saw “two guys shooting” at a guy in a red shirt. “Dude in the red shirt was running away… thataway,” he said, and pointed down Fairmont Street. “He was takin’ off his shirt as he was runnin’.” He said the man in the red shirt had sheltered behind an electrical box during part of the shooting.

Sertira Wilson, former ANC Commissioner and founder of the 1400 Fairmont Street tenant’s association, also remembered seeing “a gold car with a black top” coming down Fairmont Street just as she drove off to go to the store. She recognized the car as belonging to a woman whom neighbors on the block associated with a local drug dealer, a man who she said “has been giving these young boys these guns.” She also said the car was parked in the parking lot of 1401 Fairmont Street.

When Wilson heard that the son of the car’s owner had been talking about the shooting, and heard a white couple describe the boys “jumping out of the car” to shoot at the arrested man and others sitting in front of 1401 Fairmont Street, she put two and two together.

Wilson described a contentious relationship between one of the men who was arrested as a possible shooter and the drug dealer. While she knew the arrested man had a record, she insisted that “he works, he has kids” and had turned away from his past. She alleged that the drug dealer “has had it out for him and several of the other guys in the neighborhood who had told the kids to stay away from him.” While Wilson had not been happy that the arrested man still carried a gun, she admitted “he saved his self and his brother’s life” by returning fire when people started shooting at them.

She said she and other parents had tried to warn police about the alleged drug dealer in the past, but each time he was arrested “the next day he’d be back out on the street.” Wilson remembered overhearing the man describe himself as a “high-priced snitch,” and bragging that “police can’t touch me,” which she said meant that he would turn in boys who tried to get out of the drug business and earn immunity for himself at the same time.

Another person came forward to anonymously point out the woman who allegedly owned the car. Leander also indicated the alleged drug dealer as being involved, although he did not identify him as being a drug dealer.

The “Mob”

When I walked outside an ice cream truck had pulled up in front of my building, looking very forlorn without the usual crowd of children. A woman was telling another bystander that there must have been “at least a hundred shots fired,” and that you could tell from “that smell of smoke, you can smell it in the air!” Two police cars were on the scene, and a third drove up as I started snapping photos; my camera recorded the first picture at 7:44 p.m.

I crossed the street looking for bullet holes. As I walked south on 14th, a tall teenage boy with a kind of dazed expression walked slowly toward me, a white undershirt pulled up unevenly on his chest. I thought it must just be some weird teenage style, but then I noticed he had blood smeared on his abs and his arm, and he seemed to be pressing a dark rolled-up t-shirt against one side of his waist. Numerous sources later told me that he had been shot in the hand. He passed me and walked up to an officer.

photo 1

(A close-up of the bullet hole in the electrical box. One source said that a man in a red shirt, possibly one of the shooters, took cover behind this box. Timestamp: 7:46 p.m.) Story continues after the jump.

Across the street I spotted an electrical box with a bullet hole, so I darted over to take a picture. I heard someone trying to start an engine and someone yelling, “You can’t leave, this is a crime scene!” I looked up and saw three uniformed officers clustered around a blue car in front of 1375 Fairmont Street, the New Amsterdam Apartments. The officer who had been talking to the wounded teen-ager was standing next to the car, so I moved closer, snapping pictures. Alfonzo Flight, an area resident, and a man who gave his name as Donnie both witnessed the beginning of the argument; they later told me that the men in the car were trying to take the injured youth to the hospital.

A large man in a black shirt began arguing with an officer on the passenger side of the car. The time stamp on the first picture of the argument is 7:46 p.m., eight minutes after the shooting ended. I did not see who pushed whom, but suddenly the argument between the man and the officer on the passenger side turned into a shoving match. Another man in a white shirt pulled the first man away, and they began arguing as well. Other men, teen-agers, women, and even children ran up to argue with the officer on the passenger side of the car. One male who looked to be in his teens or early twenties came carrying a bat.

photo 2

(A heated argument between two men on the passenger side of the blue car as an officer stands to the left, just outside the picture. Two other officers stand on the driver’s side of the car as people rush up to join the argument. One young man comes armed with a bat. Timestamp: 7:47 p.m.)

Dave O’Leary, New Amsterdam resident, heard yelling and was not sure whether they were saying “he’s not the one” or “arrest the bastard!” Leander and Donnie both insisted that people were trying to find out “why they stop the guys from goin’ to the hospital” because the injured youth “wasn’t involved” in the shooting.

The officers near me pulled someone out of the driver’s side of the car before rushing to the passenger side. As the crowd swelled around the original officer, one officer held on to the wounded teen-ager at the edge of the argument and the third officer called for backup.

photo 3

(As the crowd swells around one officer, another officer holds on to the teen-ager who was wounded, and a third officer calls for back-up. Timestamp: 7:47 p.m.)

The argument turned back into shoving within a minute. A video posted on Prince of Petworth shows the revolving mass of people moving slowly across the street toward where I was standing with my camera. A second wave of police cars arrived as they moved onto the sidewalk near the parking lot of the Faircliff Apartments. I saw a woman in a white t-shirt yelling into her phone, “We need an ambulance! We need an ambulance!” I turned away for a second and her voice suddenly cut off.

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(Police reinforcements arrive. Timestamp: 7:48 p.m.)

Leander, who was a part of the crowd, later told me that the woman was pushed down, “literally to the ground,” by police. “That’s when it really got intense.”

I remember what seemed like the crowd exploding. I backed up across the street as several people yelled at me to put the camera down; an officer also yelled at me to get out of the street.

A third wave of squad cars flooded in, and the crowd broke apart from police as the reinforcements jumped out. Officers yelling “move back!” and “get inside!” began pushing everyone back toward the Faircliff and New Amsterdam apartment buildings, many with nightsticks held out in front of their bodies.

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(A man argues as an officer with an outstretched nightstick tries to clear him off of the street. In the background squad cars fill the length of the block. Timestamp: 7:49 p.m.)

My roommate, watching from my window, saw that officers “had two people on the ground.” She watched as the officers arrested them. O’Leary remembered that the “cops pulled two people out of the alley, maybe a couple of minutes apart” after the fight. Within minutes the street contained only uniformed officers.

At 7:51 p.m. a fire truck and ambulance arrived, five minutes too late to prevent a near-riot.

photo 6

(A fire truck and an ambulance arrive. Two people climb out of the near side of the fire truck. Timestamp: 7:51 p.m.)

At the police line

Several officers stood guard under the full moon that night, preventing anyone from crossing police tape in front of the 1400 block of Fairmont Street. A crowd slowly pooled on the sidewalk as residents waited to be allowed to go back into their homes.

Several witnesses described a tense relationship between this crowd and the police. Britney said one officer loosed a guard dog on her when she tried to slip under the police line to go home. Another officer caught the dog before it touched her, but it frightened her enough to back up past the tape. Leander remembered officers “threatening to call child and family services” on parents who wanted to take their children home. He described officers “threatening them with mace… they were doin’ too much.” Wilson also remembered officers refusing to let mothers “with babies” back into their buildings.

Despite the contentious atmosphere, Leander said he tried to tell officers about what he had seen, particularly about the car. Leander said one officer, a “paler guy was going to write it down,” but another officer, taller and darker, said they had already caught the shooter and didn’t need any more information.

At 9:36 p.m. my roommate and I watched from my window as officers escorted the crowd past the police tape to their homes.


What happened?”

The next day Paul Whatling, vice president of the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association and resident of the 1300 block of Fairmont Street, sent an email to the association listserve about the events of Aug. 16. His email stated that when police arrived after the shooting, “about 50 people… confronted the officers. This mob verbally and physically harassed and threatened these officers as they attempted to chase down one of the gunmen that ran into the alley…. One member of this mob even raised a bat to threaten the officers.” He also forwarded Police Chief Lanier’s response to his email confirming that “the crowd did attack the officers.” In a subsequent email Whatling notified the listserve that Councilmember Jim Graham and Lanier would attend the next scheduled neighborhood association meeting to discuss the events of Aug. 16.

At 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association held a packed meeting about the events of the previous Saturday. Graham, Lanier, Third District Commander George Kucik, Lieutenant Deborah Pearce, and Faircliff Apartments manager E. Neicy Jones all spoke. Pearce began by giving a general overview of the status of crime in the neighborhood, then stated that the “shooting is closed, we found the shooter.” When questioned about some witnesses’ accounts of a car, she added that “the investigation is still pending, at this point we have no reports of cars. We have one additional person we’re looking at, but at this point, as far as we know it was on foot.”

When Graham jumped in, saying he wanted to know why an arrest provoked a riot, Kucik explained that “some of the people being arrested have family, friends in the area that didn’t want them being arrested.” Kucik went on to say there were “four or five main people who were attacking police,” but “a lot of people were not involved. To say that 50, 60 people attacked the police, that is not accurate.”

After Kucik finished, Jones, who took over management of the Faircliff Apartments in January, detailed the measures she has been taking to ensure that residents who break the law are promptly evicted. She spoke of a “wall of posters” of convicted criminals in her office, and said she urged all of her residents to “call security, call police immediately” if they spotted any of the offenders on the premises. Jones placed much of the blame for the crime happening around her premises on residents who let their “cousins, friends, baby mommas, baby daddies” into the premises. By the end of her account, many people in the audience were vigorously applauding, although some women in the back row visibly recoiled when she said, “As management, I gotta get you out so your baby daddy don’t come in.”

Jones also introduced a woman in the back row who is a resident of Faircliff East Apartments. The woman pleaded with the audience not to think that all residents of the building were criminals, saying there were “a lot of people not from our area hanging out” and “we fight for our space every day, we don’t want people doing drugs in our halls.”

Lanier spoke next and complimented Jones and her security team, stating “they actually do set the standard for private security,” and “Ms. Jones is brutal” in dealing with offenders. Lanier also talked about the measures she was taking to reduce crime and prevent shootings, but blamed much of the crime in Columbia Heights on “repeat offenders,” saying, “I see my officers continually arrest the same people.” She let frustration show through her voice when she described offenders who had “fifteen or more prior arrests… that are still walking around in our streets committing further crimes.”

Lanier asked audience members to assist her in forming a new “court watch” group to “be a voice in the rest of the criminal justice system” and monitor cases as they proceed through the courts.

A woman in the back asked Lanier, “what can we do besides just arrest the child?” Lanier replied that the Metropolitan Police Department already provided hundreds of free programs to keep kids off the street during the summer. The woman replied that the programs were “not here, they are not here.”

Denise Credle, Vice President of the Parents Association of the Boys and Girls Club at 14th and Belmont Streets NW, also had a different perspective. She started questioned Lanier about incidents of “officers harassing kids as soon as they leave the gates” of the club and “cussing them out all the way up the block.” She said she had needed to intervene in the past, and that when she did, the officer “just acted like I was stupid or something.” Credle insisted that “these are the good kids” and pleaded with Lanier to stop her officers from “harassing” the wrong people. She stated “I am afraid of police” because of the way she and others had been treated.

Lanier responded, “Well, I’m sorry to hear that, but I can’t let you generalize my entire police force based on the actions of one or two officers.” She suggested that Credle file complaints.

Credle responded that she had filed “numerous complaints,” but “they’re just swept under the rug.”

After the meeting, Graham stated, “I think the community and the police, and certainly myself, are treating this as an extremely serious problem… the presence of the police chief and MPD brass here shows that we are taking this very seriously. The major unanswered question in my mind is, we have arrests all the time of popular people in the neighborhood, but we’ve never had a reaction like this to an arrest… we don’t have community people take baseball bats and attack officers. What happened to provoke that kind of response?”

When told about the men allegedly trying to take a wounded teen-ager to the hospital and being stopped by police, Graham immediately pulled over several members of the WMPD, including Kucik, and urged them to look into that information.

When asked about allegations that the fight started over officers stopping men from taking a wounded teen-ager to the hospital, Pearce disclosed that she had not been on the scene when the fight happened, but “that was never reported to me as being a cause of the assault.” She also said she had not heard about a woman being pushed to the ground by police, but “that doesn’t sound like any of the reports.” Sergeant Mary Lanauze denied that the shooting had been a drive-by: “Through our investigation, a car has been totally ruled out.” She said people may have seen that “some cars were leaving, but those were innocent people… families goin’ about their lives. Those cars were not involved.”

Kucik later disclosed, “In regard to the subject who was shot in the hand, he was stopped because he was suspected as being involved in the shooting. He was subsequently arrested and charged for his role in the shooting.” Responding to emailed questions, including allegations that officers on the scene turned away a witness who wanted to make a statement, Kucik said “the department is asking anyone with information about the shooting to please contact the Department on 1 888 919-CRIME.”

Credle also had comments outside the meeting. She stated that the relationship between police and black residents of the community was “like a bomb, and you’re playing with the fuse.” She shared that her husband was a homicide detective, but her son did not know whether to be afraid of police despite knowing his father was on the force. Credle said she did not know what to tell him.

35 Comment

  • I’m not buying the argument that MPD is too tough on kids, if anything they aren’t tough enough. I was at this meeting and I wanted to speak up about the underlying tone that was being given out. I left pretty discouraged about both the community and MPD’s ability to address crime. Crime is down in NY, Chicago, LA, the economy is good in DC, unemployment in DC still low, massive economic development has occured in this city – but crime is going up. Doesn’t make any sense.

  • I think even more distrubing than the incident is the fact that there are people that have around 15 arrests and are still walking the streets?!?!?! How in the hell is that possible?!?! Maybe there does need to be more programs, but how many second, third chances are people going to get?

    I find this statement interesting to: “Credle also had comments outside the meeting. She stated that the relationship between police and black residents of the community was “like a bomb, and you’re playing with the fuse.” If you look at the pictures, it appears that the police force is about 50/50 black and white, and I’d say that what I’m seen of police around here it appears to have a substantial mix of different races. So does this mean that only the white policeman are harrassing people in the neighborhood, or is it all police in general?

    On another note, did anybody hear anything this evening near Kenyon St. between 11 and 13? I thought I heard something like gunshots taking out the garbage and a little later I saw several police cars and they had the street blocked off.

  • I can’t wait to leave this city.

  • I taught English and creative writing in the Gaza Strip three years ago… Let me just say that said Strip is closer to DC than you might think.

  • 3D is the station where like 20 officers where under investigation and lost their jobs, but had to be rehired due to the union (I forget the details, but I remember thinking that the officers obviously should havebeen fired). Yesterday a cop was arrested for smoking pot in Rock Creek Park, and even sent Park Police on a car chase to catch him. If I were the mayor or Cathey Lanier I would fire the whole force and hire back only the qualified officers who do their work. Clearly DC has a problem with the force.

    I’m not blaming the police for the crowd, just for allowing the conditions that have given the crowd an “anything goes, I can do what I want” attitude. NY cops don’t mess around, here in DC you have to kill someone to get arrested – literally. I see guy get busted for smoking crack all the time and every time the cops let them go. One cop told me its more trouble than its worth and he’ll just get released. Well, if you would at least arrest them then maybe they will think twice about where they go to smoke crack. Just go to the park at 11th and Monroe and you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

  • Take5,
    If a man is smoking crack, wouldn’t you say he needs more than just arresting? And if he is just smoking crack and not bothering anyone, isn’t that all the more reason not to clog the courts and take officers off the street to arrest someone for doing nothing more than harming himself?

    As for the police being crooked, well I can see the young guy on the corner point of view. There are some well known crooked cops on the street. Ask anyone in 4d about Officer Pinto. Right or wrong, the police have to operate within the bounds of the law. Criminals, by definition, do not have a bill of rights or constitution to abide by. When cops don’t do so and arrest you by lying to gain probable cause (to search your car or home), then that breeds enmity. Especially when you see people that do not look like you that do not get the same treatment.

    I was once pulled over by a cop on ~22nd and K. It was raining. The cop SAID he smelled marijuana in the car. I was not smoking or in possession of any drugs. He handcuffed me and let me sit in the rain for 10-20 minutes while he searched my car. When he found nothing, he threatened to get a dog so he could search the trunk. Now, I am a very law and order type of guy. But it only takes a bad instance like this to forever change your views toward law enforcement.

    This is not about racism. The officer was black. But when war has been declared on drugs, it makes some officer pursue it blindly. My injustice was just collateral damage in his eyes.

  • Ok, so this is obviously an extremely complex equation.. However, for the Police Chief to respond to the Manager of the Girls and Boys Club in that manner is unacceptable. The facts may be that there is nothing to Credle’s complaints or even that there is something shady going on at or around the Club. THAT DOES NOT MATTER. For Lanies to simply say “don’t generalize and file a complaint” is just ridiculous. How do you think that makes community people feel? Isn’t the Club supposed to be a way of at least trying to distract these kids from more harmful stuff? Again, even if the facts were different, the Chief must learn something more about public relations and public speaking. She should have said something along the lines of it not being fare to generalize but that she would personally commit to looking into the complaints Credle’s has put it. How difficult would that have been?

    I know.. ranting about a small detail but if Police wants to build better relations with the community.. oh well..

  • On the 4th of July there were about 50 people in the street, some from the apartments, some from “single” family homes across the street about to come to blows over fireworks being shot too close to the babies. The “single” family home residents kept shouting “You all don’t have jobs, we paid for them fireworks, keep them away from us. We paid for your food, we paid for your taxes…” Finally the cops came and it cleared up, but it was a tense 15 minutes seeing a swarm of 50 people in the street threatening violence upon each other. When I heard about this shooting, I wasn’t surprised.

  • @GforGood

    I was at the community meaning where the Girls and Boys Club manager spoke. She basically said that her son who she sends to St. John’s Senior High is afraid to leave the house because ALL police are harrasing her kids and are corrupt. She also said that police don’t respond as fast for people like her as the rest of the room (most people at this community meeting were white). Lanies said she would not sit back and allow her to generalize the entire police force like that at a community meeting. I think it was a fair reponse to someone basically calling the entire police force racist kid-haters.

    And the whole boys and girls thing needs to be investigated. The story does not add up, the police were creating some presentation and were photographing kids. Someone should find out exactly what happened.

  • Nate – I understand what your saying, but DC is a very progressive city. Arrestees are given the option of jail or rehab (hence the new rehab center on Spring). Statistics indicate that crack leads to other crimes. Look,I’ve done my fair share of drugs in my youth and it is somewhat hypocritical for me to say this but I consider myself lucky in that I’ve never been arrested, and I stopped doing all drugs before they got the best of me (I can’t say thats true for all my friends). Another thing that is to be considered is that if someone is smoking crack so openly they are probably buying it close by, which means there are other organized crime factors to consider. If MPD can’t break that up then they should do what NYC did and concentrate on the lower level nuicance crimes like publicly smoking crack. You will see robberies and violnce go down, and quality of life go up.

  • MPD seems to have a problem dealing with eyewitnesses at crime scenes. Although nothing at all like the event at 14th and Fairmont, when the man was shot on a Sunday afternoon in Adams Morgan, the MPD handling of the sitution was horrible when it came to getting witness statements.

    By the time the cops showed up at the scene and were willing to start talking to eyewitnesses (without just yelling at them) most of the eyewitnesses had left. I understand that crime scenes need to be secured, but part of that should include gathering your eyewitnesses (and taking statements from them whether you catch the shooter or not) and effective crowd control (which does not include throwing people to the ground or berating those trying to help).

  • For what it’s worth, it’s not just the black and hispanic residents who get lousy service from the police. I’m as white as… you know, something really white, and I have never had the police respond to one of my “there’s someone on my porch/ shooting up in my alley/ rattling my pictures off the walls with loud music” calls. Not once.

  • Nate, shovel your nonsense somewhere else, ok?

  • Don’t forget that the Latin American Youth Center was used for years from around 1996-1999 as a drug gang meeting place. Gangs recruited at that community center. The idea that a community center cannot be used by gangs is just silly- there’s much evidence in our neighborhood that they’ve been used for just that purpose.

    I’m all for supporting the boys and girls clubs, but I dealt last year with DCPS teachers who were not anti-drug and did nothing to keep drug dealers off elementary school playgrounds because they felt that doing so “would just push them somewhere else.” well, DUH! That’s the point of drug-free school zones. In places where cultures permit lawlessness and anarchy, then at least schools are not sources of that mental illness.

  • Sorry, pressed submit too early, what I mean to say is that there is no proof that the B&GC at that facility do anything positive to keep the kids out of the criminal life. Also there’s no proof that their standards are as high as they should be. In this city many people, such as teachers I’ve met in DCPS, have shockingly crappy personal standards and while they live up to them, they compare themselves, not against Ivy League graduates who own corporations, but against the homeless drug addicts on the street. Naturally everyone fares better than a crack whore, but they are not faring well when compared against community groups even west of the park, let alone in Fairfax of MoCo

  • Look,I’ve done my fair share of drugs in my youth and it is somewhat hypocritical for me to say this but I consider myself lucky in that I’ve never been arrested, and I stopped doing all drugs before they got the best of me (I can’t say thats true for all my friends).


    My wife and I realized with some surprise that every single one of our friends for whom drug use became a “way of life” had been arrested and only those friends who abandoned pot by age 28-30 or so stayed out of the criminal justice system.

    Yes, most of our friend got arrested in one single drug bust, but some didn’t even quit then and then had to serve actual days in jail because of that past arrest. One friend served 9 months.

  • This account just leads to more questions. Sounds like the B&GC director has given up engaging with the police and working out her problems with them. While the DC Police may be a bit unresponsive, prejudicial, and hard headed at times, it is still the responsibility of community leaders, such has her, to continue to seek ways to work with the police and not just generalize or call them names. What type of example is that for the kids at the B&GC? She needs to lead by example.

    Does anyone know if the police called the ambulance and fire department before or during the altercation? Since the paramedics arrived less than 15 minutes after the first shots, and five minutes after the police had information that someone was injured or shot, it seems that waiting for the ambulance for immediate first aid is a more prudent and safer way to go. Seems the police should have communicated this to those trying to haphazardly drive an injured person to the hospital, or did they but it was lost in the shouting and distrust?

  • MandarinZazz, ColumbiaHeightsdude, I hear you. I was saying I don’t know what the reality is – it may all those things and worse, but I still think that the Chief should have had the “PR” wits to say that such kind of “unwarrented harrassment” would not be tolerated and she would personally make sure of it. If someone indeed said all police are like that, she was right to defend them, but should also have added that the reportedly bad apples would also not be tolerated.

  • Neener,
    I am for legalization of drugs. Not for my own benefit. But I have seen so many young men go to jail hustling a drug that has been made illicit by policy. Yet, the policy is unable to stop the flow of drugs to our streets.

    You gotta be able to see that. I have three good friends. Grew up with them. All have done 3-5 year bids in prison for distribution of marijuana. No violent crime. No guns. Weed. A plant that grows everywhere and anywhere. You want to stop much of the warring on the street? You have to start with the problem. The problem isn’t lack of resources. It is a black market which lures uneducated men with the prospects of getting rich.

    It is good that most of your buddies quit drugs by the age of 30. Good for them. But for the ones that don’t, are you saying that imprisonment for smoking a joint is the way to go?

  • Nate – How ignorant can you be? The old argument that you’re only hurting yourself, doesn’t fly. You’re using a very uninformed position that shows your lack of ability to see the larger picture. What about the dealer that your crack user is buying drugs from? He’s financing a larger organization with his habit that is probably having a negative impact on some other aspect of the community such as distributing guns and threatening violence to the low level dealers and users. I agree there needs to be options – rehab, etc, but please, get a clue. No one operates in a vacuum no matter what you like to believe.

  • Im with Nate on the legalization issue. As for Take 5’s assessment of DC as a “very progressive city”- please tell me what you mean by that. Please….
    Oh, and ask Amadou Diallo about the NYC police force….

  • Its not fair to tar the whole NYC police force by the Amadou Diallo case.. 😉

    Nate, you referred earlier to a crack user – I think its fair to say that using crack is not a victimless crime. Pot may be (or perhaps: could be) different.

    G-Man, Nate was later referring to pot use. I think its fair to argue that dedicated a big part of the anti-drug fight on pot may not be the best strategy. Crack is probably different.

    Ah, the joy of incoherent rambling – clerly time for my favorite addictive drug – caffeine!

  • I know this isnt the central point of this post, “G”-but I fear the NYC po-po…
    Amadou, Sean Bell, Abner Louima..
    What did Malcolm X say about “Up South”.

    I think DC has some mean a– cops, too…. Race notwithstanding…

  • It is good that most of your buddies quit drugs by the age of 30. Good for them. But for the ones that don’t, are you saying that imprisonment for smoking a joint is the way to go?

    What I’m saying is that, like the person who posted that they were lucky to get off unharmed by drug use, getting involved in it AT ALL is a bad idea and those friends of mine who didn’t recognize that paid the price.

    I grew up under the influence of Minor Threat and straight-edge and while that community was hardly innocent, in general, those of us who got involved in that were able to go to clubs and basement shows every weekend for years in high school with no DUIs, no fights, no ODs, etc. Friends of mine who got involved in any of the judgement-altering chemicals had bad stories to tell.

    I could go into lists of everyone that I knew who severely damaged their lives on drugs. 7 friends of mine committed suicide in the last 15 years. All were doing drugs, from pills to heroin.

    I think I’m just going to have to apologize for the anger in my original post and we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    When drug-related deaths occur right in front of someone’s nose and they fail to recognize that avoiding drugs would keep themselves or their friends or just kids on their block alive, I can’t help that person. This reminds me of when I have to work in Atlantic City. In Atlantic City they legalized gambling, right, a “victimless crime.” Yet throughout the city there is rampant crime related to people who lost all their money gambling, came to the city with no skills hoping to make it big, or cater to the worst possible entertainments: VD prostitution and it’s ilk.

    I’m here to say that legalizing pot and some of these other drugs will be like legalizing gambling- as long as you can afford it, things look bright and shiny, but the minute you can’t it will turn all of our cities into the back streets of Atlantic City.

    Sobriety in and of itself is a lofty goal. I may not be mellower for not drinking or doing drugs, but I truly believe I’m more successful.

  • Take5,

    You say “Yesterday a cop was arrested for smoking pot in Rock Creek Park…”, but then six lines later you say “here in DC you have to kill someone to get arrested – literally.”

    Which is it? I think we can discuss the merits of DC’s policing strategy without bringing in irrelevant situations and hyperbole.

  • “The old argument that you’re only hurting yourself, doesn’t fly. You’re using a very uninformed position that shows your lack of ability to see the larger picture. What about the dealer that your crack user is buying drugs from?”

    Ok, if it is the crack dealer you have a problem with, let us solve this problem by regulating it. Let CVS and Duane Reade sell it. When CVS gets robbed, they call the police. When a drug dealer gets robbed, he has no other recourse but to a) go out of business, or b) kill the person who robbed him. In almost all cases, the dealer retaliates.

    “He’s [crackhead] financing a larger organization with his habit that is probably having a negative impact on some other aspect of the community such as distributing guns and threatening violence to the low level dealers and users. ”

    Really? The average crack head is only buying $10-20 worth of crack at a time. No huge organization is getting rich $10-20 at a time. In all likelihood, he is supporting some uneducated young man trying to make some fast money.

    Have you ever wondered why CVS never has shootouts with RiteAid or Duane Reade over drug turf? CVS and Duane Reade have far more drugs for sell in their stores than is on any particular block. Yet, no shootouts. Very few robberies of CVS. And CVS has never been accused of running guns. Why? Because everything they sell is legal. The pharmacists are licensed. They have recourse if you steal or rob them. Dope boy on the corner doesn’t. So he reacts like an animal in the wild when attacked.

  • Fair enough, but the cop was smoking pot in upper northwest where they do not tolerate nuisance crime like they do over here.p

  • Great post. Thank God for MPD.

  • Ok, if it is the crack dealer you have a problem with, let us solve this problem by regulating it. Let CVS and Duane Reade sell it. When CVS gets robbed, they call the police.


    ok, but let’s look how well that works with alcohol. How many times have you seen someone at a club that sells liquor get roughed up and beat up by bouncers rather than just calling the police.

    Are you going to say that liquor distributors and nightclub owners never get into shootouts over turf? I knew a family that worked in cigarette machine distribution and almost nothing about their business was above board.

    I truly do believe my Atlantic City example is accurate- legalize it and be prepared to wallow in businesses as above board as casinos, bars and liquor stores.

  • Neener,
    Drugs are de facto legal now for all intents and purposes. People just have not come to grips with that. There is noone that wants drugs that can not easily find drugs.

    With that said, we have two options. We can allow what happened on the Fairmont Streets of the world to keep happening. Or you can stir things up and take a different approach. I guarantee you that if we stay on this path, 50 years from now we will be having the same petty shootouts between rival drug dealers.

    I don’t even think telling people to stop doing drugs is a viable option. It is none of the government’s business what you do as long as you do not put anyone else at risk (i.e. driving drunk/high).

  • This has nothing to do with drugs and more to do with the police. I live near a very active corner by the GIANT. There’s a lot of criminal/police activity and I often get to witness the way the police act.

    For instance:

    It was late on a Sunday evening about a year ago when I heard a huge commotion outside of my house. I looked out the window and saw about 15 police cars and officers (of all colors and creeds I might add). It appeared the police had apprehended two robbery suspects. The suspects were hispanic men in their twenties and didn’t speak english. After about an hour and an additional 15 police officers, they were able to confirm the two dudes were not the robbery suspects. The police let them go but not before taunting them with cries of “ARRIBA ARRIBA” and other ethnic slurs as the men walked away. It was disturbing on a whole new level. To top it off, for the next hour, about 25 police officers stayed at the scene, loitering around, pimping themselves, making jokes about the suspects and generally imitating Reno 911. I couldn’t believe it.

    And just last week, some poor tranny prostitute was harrassing a man parked in front of my house. The guy punched the tranny and somewhere along the way, the police were called. All I could hear from my window was “Get on the GROUND NOW!!!” When I looked out I saw at least three cops with their guns pointing at the puncher who was trying to drive away.

    Within five minutes, there were at least 15 more police officers at the scene. The ambulance came, even though the punch was minimal and the tranny didn’t want assistance. Also – the fire department came because the police forgot to turn the suspect’s car off so it overheated. All told, there were at least 50 firemen, EMTs and police who responded because some guy/girl got punched in the nose. Completely over the top!

  • “…and only those friends who abandoned pot by age 28-30 or so stayed out of the criminal justice system.”

    Hah – laughable. Do you work on McCain’s campaign?

  • “It’s none of the government’s business what you do as long as you do not put anyone else at risk”??? What a dumb attitude. The government certainly has the power to regulate that sort of stuff, AND it should. The economic losses to society from drug abuse are enormous and reverberate throughout society: derelict parenting, taxing the public health care system, lost productivity at work, etc.. I’m not saying focusing on prosecuting simple marijuana possession is the best use of law enforcement resources, or even that we shouldn’t approach the drug problem primarily as a public health issue, but don’t downplay the costs of this behavior to everyone else, or the general societal interest in putting it to an end. To put it in perspective, that’s exactly what I frequently hear in defense of Marion Barry from those who don’t think he’s DC’s version of a bad punchline: “That man didn’t do anything to hurt anybody else.”

  • Anonymous,
    Noone in the US would be for the gov’t regulating how much alcohol one could consume. Or cough syrup. Or even cigarettes. Once you are old enough, you can literally drink yourself to death. The government will pick you up and take you to the morgue afterwards. However, once you get behind the wheel of a car or a tractor at work, then the safety of others is put at risk.

    Same goes for restaurants. Smoke all you want at home. But you can’t smoke others out of restuarants, airplanes, etc.

    Don’t pollute the argument by using Marion barry. Assuming he had run the city effectively, noone would care what he did in his past time. That was his failure more than anything. Our last 3 presidents Bush, Mccain/Obama, and Clinton have been weed smokers. All (Bush, Obama) have probably done some coke. It’s time we stop thinking that drugs are evil. Plenty of people use it recreationally without ruining themselves.

    I recently bought a house. Guess what was growing in the front yard? A tall plant of marijuana. Just growing out of the ground with no special attention paid to it. Explain to me how any police force can combat a “drug” that is this simple to produce. The gov’t did a good job with meth as it is primarily a synthetic product.

  • “…and only those friends who abandoned pot by age 28-30 or so stayed out of the criminal justice system.”

    Hah – laughable. Do you work on McCain’s campaign?

    Your statement is incoherent.

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