Next Steps In Addressing Violence In DC

Ok, so maybe I’m also becoming a bit obsessed but I think the discussion we’ve been having can yield some positive action. Christina wants to know:

“So how do we harness this energy? This is one of the most useful conversations (of many useful conversations!) I’ve seen on this board. It makes me feel like there’s something I can actually do, rather than just participate in yet another thread of with a lot of people bitching about blacks and gentrification and “why don’t you move back to the suburbs” and “I’m selling my house, these people are animals” or whatever. All that venting is fine, but action is necessary.

Do we need to try and enlist the other blog communities in this? Is a letter writing campaign the right form of action? A visit to a DC council meeting? I know (hope!) we have ANCs lurking here, as well as a lot of people who are more familiar with the workings of DC gov’t than I am.”

Incidentally Washington Post columnist Colbert King has some really interesting thoughts on the situation. I feel like he is the only member of the mainstream media who really understands how difficult the situation can be and he’s certainly the only one to consistently write about it. Of course his columns are on Saturday so I feel like they may get overlooked a bit. He had a very powerful column this Saturday titled – Watch Where You Walk, Mr. Obama. I definitely thought it was worth sharing. Following is how he ends the column:

“President-elect Obama should also make it a point to observe District leaders go through the motions of seeming to care about the turmoil in our city’s underbelly.

They don’t care, of course. Otherwise, how do you explain leadership that:

· Considers it taboo to hold parents accountable for their children’s misbehavior.

· Dreads the thought of asking hard questions about juvenile crime, dead youth offenders and the effectiveness of an $80 million Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services budget.

· Refuses to consider the possibility of links between fatherless poor families, undisciplined adolescents who stomp, steal and shoot, who kill and are killed, and touchy-feely youth rehabilitation “experts” whose lower lips quiver at the very idea of juvenile detention.

Well, this is the kind of place the next first family is coming to.

Maybe our next commander in chief should invite the 82nd Airborne Division to tag along.”

88 Comment

  • Thanks much for moving this up to the top, PoP. I just get a sinking feeling that if the discussion were about someone getting robbed coming home from the Metro, we’d still be yapping about it (and I’ve been a part of some of those venting threads, like the marathon thread about street harassment, so I’m not suggesting I’m above the fray.)

    I think we just need a place to start. Maybe that insane gun “operability” statute is one place to focus attention?

  • Christina, PoP

    I am a new resident in Petworth and came to this website to see what’s going on. I am writing a short proposal for a community action project that I was hoping to share with Bowser and am already in touch with her office for an appointment. The project tries to capitalize on the community altruism and momentum generated by Obama. I have another person who is interested in fleshing out the ideas and we were planning to work with DC for Obama and eventually approach the Mayor for support. I do hope it could address some of the frustrations in this blog because one of the aims is to approach alot of youth hanging around at Metro stations or on our blocks and try to enlist their engagement and support. It would only take a few high profile popular “bad boys” to have others stand up and take notice. Let me know if you or anyone else for that matter are interested in joining the conversation. In case i don’t check back here and anyone is interested in at least chatting about it, please email me at [email protected]

  • While we continue to gather issues that need to be addressed, let’s not lose sight of the issue that was so effectively raised last week – DC’s ridiculous lack of mandatory minimums on gun crimes. (See last week’s posts.) We need to make sure the Council does everything in its power to fix this.

  • Do not disturb someone while he is busily destroying himself. That best sums up Obama’s approach to the District’s problems. If he is to be successful, he had best distance himself from the issues of DC’s inner city. He can’t solve this problem in 4,8, or 50 years. As a black man, I hear so many f’ing excuses for our behavior that it pisses me off to no end. No jobs. No daddy. Mom on drugs. Racism. Blah. Blah. Blah.

    This problem is not going away. It is too multipronged and would require people to take a new approach. How we regulate the drug trade is one issue that is the root of many of the murders and shooting. Another is the morally bankrupt culture in these young black men. They will shoot you over a pair of shoes, sneakers, a girl. ANYTHING. Jobs won’t cure that. Education won’t cure that. Rec centers won’t cure that. More police won’t stop it.

    I manage some properties in SE. The issues I see there just are not going to be solved. This weekend, I saw a lady living in a home with three young kids with no running water. Can’t brush their teeth. Can’t take a shower. Can’t flush the toilet. Feces was filled to the top of the toilet. That might seem mind numbing to some. But this is everyday life for many of these people. And when confronted with a curveball in life, they retaliate. Oftentimes violently. How can you solve a problem like this without taking drastic measures? How can you solve a problem like this while always being politically correct? Let’s face it, some people are not fit to be parents. And they send the failures of their parenting out into the world to raise havoc for everyone else.

  • Thanks PoP. When I started reading this I immediately thought of Colbert King’s column also. I thought the key point was:

    Considers it taboo to hold parents accountable for their children’s misbehavior.

  • I think there is definitely room to provide better services, Colbert King is right, if this is what $80MM gets us there is something definitely wrong with what the city is doing, or not doing, as the case may be. But the second prong of this, the thing that dare not be discussed by Bowser or the other council members, is consequences. The meeting last week had not a word about consequences nor a word about the lives that had been lost. Just a bunch of happy talk about all the work MPD has been doing ever since the casings hit the pavement and the bodies were cold.

    When someone gets caught with a gun for the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th time there should be no revolving door. If Maryland can have mandatory jail time for 2nd offense gun offenders, why don’t we have it? While Nate has a point when he brings up that a lot of violence will remain as long as there is a drug trade going on, we need to start somewhere.

    Talking about alternatives for people is fine, but when those alternatives have not worked and you have an adult offender who has been caught carrying a weapon multiple times, there need to be real consequences. Otherwise the laws will be continued to be treated with contempt.

    It is no accident that only 17% of federal drug offenders are arrested with weapons. People who have been in the system know the law much better than you do, and they know that if their case goes federal they are looking at a mandatory minimum 5 years for certain crimes involving weapons.

    It is also no accident that the guys with guns in DC don’t care about getting caught because they know that the DC code has no minimum, that because of the volume of cases — unless they’ve actually shot or killed anyone — they’ll get time served, and that hardly any gun or drug cases go federal in DC thanks to our US Attorney’s policy (there were 50 federal gun cases last year, and approximately 50,000 arrests in DC). Pusuing a case in federal court is harder work, and appearantly the US Atty. doesn’t really care what happens in much of this city (no surprise, he’s a presidential appointee after all, and could care less what we think).

    There are two avenues: (1) Get Bowser, Mendelson, and Fenty to do their damn job and start protecting the people getting killed (and those in the cross-fire) rather than those who carry guns illegally. Demand mandatory minimums for felony gun possession. (2) Put pressure on the US Attorney (who is responsible for prosecuting DC and Federal offenses in the city) to charge more gun offenses federally because of the enhanced punishments.

  • Odentex,
    I agree with you. But what I saw this weekend is the cause of a lot of this. Any child living in a home without running water is going to grow up to be an angry adult. I called child protective services. On Sunday, the woman was still there with the kids. You can’t stop her from having kids. Nor can you tell her how to raise them. You just have to be prepared when they grow up and kill somone over a petty argument. These people have deep rooted anger. The city has made no attempts to address that. They have glossed over it with Rec centers and job training.

    Now consider this: she had been living there for weeks with no water and none of her neighbors even saw fit to call child protective services. That shows how pervasive the issue is.

  • Thanks for linking to that article, it really sums it up pretty well…

    sigh. makes me want to move someplace else almost.

  • Nate: True. The city efforts stink and I think doing what we can for the young is going to be key in moving forward. But right now, today, the 2 year old isn’t the one shooting the gun. Often times the one shooting the gun is a fella who has been caught multiple times with a weapon before. You know this is true, and any MPD officer (off the record) will tell you a thousand stories about picking up the same knucklehead, over and over and over again until he finally kills someone (and even then, they often get a bond). That die is cast. There is no job program, intervention, or social network that is going to stop that train.

    I think we need to start with the idea that these repeat offenders, who know the law well, are aware that the worst that can happen when they are caught with a weapon is a weekend sojourn at DC jail. While that’s enough deterence for me and you, not so much for someone whose been arrested a half-dozen times before. If, on the other hand, they knew that the law now proscribed a year at a federal prison for carrying a weapon, despite your correct assertion that drugs will continue to be sold, that is going to cause some, not all, but some people to think twice.

    They great thing about this is there is no new program that needs to be developed and it only takes the time necessary for council to vote on and sign the law. The question remains, why does Mendelson and the rest of council oppose doing what they can to get guns off the streets? Who are they serving?

    For those of you who missed the earlier discussion, including Joe Martin’s response, it is all included here:

  • I’ve been mulling over the very powerful comment that PoP reposted on turning online discussion into some kind of action.

    This morning coming into work, I was listening to NPR talking about the Knight Foundation’s new project Knight Pulse. They just launched the site last week.

    I was thinking maybe the PoP could get some ideas or leverage the site. There is a funding component.

    I think it would be really interesting to see the PoP folk use the site and get funding to throw some crime awareness/prevention/community building events that were publicized and planned collaboratively online.

    Here is’s stated goal:

    The goal of this site is to start conversations with a video post and listen as you debate ideas in the comments (and in other places, linking back). This site gives you a chance to develop collaborative projects about information that Knight Foundation may consider funding.

    If we had funding, we could do a number of things:

    Hold a concert/fundraiser and give proceeds to an organization that works with local troubled youth.

    Start a scholarship program for kids who are trying to come out of gangs.

    These are some of the ideas I have. I think the community is hungry for this kind of thing…especially with Obama taking over soon.

  • Odentex,
    “The city efforts stink and I think doing what we can for the young is going to be key in moving forward. But right now, today, the 2 year old isn’t the one shooting the gun. ”

    Correct. The 2 y/o is now 15+ armed, dangerous, and angry. There are legions of kids in DC that probably should have been given up for adoption. But now they are grown up and angry.

    “Often times the one shooting the gun is a fella who has been caught multiple times with a weapon before.”

    Locking him up isn’t going to stop the problem if there are thousands of people just like him. We passed severe penalties for drug dealing. It has not stopped the drug trade one bit. You can’t lock all of them up. You can’t even lock most of them up as they are born EVERYDAY. DC used to have 400+ murders a year. EVEN that did not even thin the ranks.

    There is a lack of conflict resolution in some people. I know of a lady that is ~2 months pregnant. She drinks alcohol regularly. She says she is going to get an abortion. I doubt she does. According to her, the baby’s daddy (already a father of three) wants the child. When the child is born, the clock starts ticking before that child becomes a menace to society. Gun laws are of no consequence to these people. They are born everyday. The only thing you can do is stay out of their way.

    Think about it this way. In a normal scenario, you are less likely to convicted of murder than you are of drug dealing. That is before the no snitching comes into play. Criminals know this. Assuming you are convicted, you are looking at 10 years or less. On the flip side, not carrying a weapon subjects you to the death penalty on the street. It is not hard to see why they continue to carry guns. And as an extension, continue to use them.

  • Lisa Fitzpatrick,

    I am glad to see you are eager to make change in this world, but I must caution you, do not think that the kids on the corners or hanging around the metro are:
    1. safe
    2. without people in their lives offering them hope and opportunity

    I know a family reasonably well and their son is a holy terror because he wants to be, not because he doesn’t have role models who are succeeding. The tip off in your email is that you’re new to Petworth. If you don’t know the family of one of these drug dealers then… I don’t want to stop change but… what do you know about these situations?

  • the biggest issue that I see that’s not being addressed is this:

    The city is paying uneducated idiots with a history of drug use, gangster lifestyle, and crew membership to run its community centers, schools and rehabilitation programs. These people, many of whom I know, do NOT have the same set of morals that most of us have.

    When I was getting drug dealers arrested on school property I had a teacher tell me to my face that the dealers were just going to move to another block as soon as the cops came SO WE SHOULD JUST LET THEM TAKE OVER THE KID’S PLAYGROUND! A TEACHER SAID THIS!

    I spoke to police officers who similarly have told me that combating crew culture is hopeless! These are officers who have no interest in changing a bizarre gangster subculture that they deem is normal.

    I spoke to elderly widows on our block who told me separately that the worst thing ever was when their kids who did drugs in the 1970s grew up, they never stopped their own kids from doing drugs, except a joint at a party gave way to automatic weapons and crack cocaine “robin hoods.”

    As long as the city creates programs staffed by people who don’t see drug use as a problem and who don’t know what real success is because they’re in a confused netherworld separated from sane culture, not one single city program will work. The only way for these programs to work is to hire only people who deride and mock gangster, street and projects culture for the buffoonery it really is.

  • “I spoke to police officers who similarly have told me that combating crew culture is hopeless! These are officers who have no interest in changing a bizarre gangster subculture that they deem is normal. ”

    Cops are not sociologists. DC cops especially. That is too tall of an order to ask for cops to change the culture of a community. All they can do is arrest them. Many DC cops are from the streets themselves. Remember there was a lady cop in 4d last year whose home in Petworth was RAIDED for drugs! Who is going to snitch when there is a contingent of cops in bed with the bad guys?

  • Has anyone tried to email Mendelson’s office about the his stance on minimums? I did, ass didn’t even bother to reply. At least Graham replies, granted it’s always some lame excuse about “I’m working with the Chief…. blah blah.” What I want to hear from him is, “I’ve introduced a bill” not lame excuses.

    If I could raise the cash, I’d run against that idiot.

  • Posts like these bring the true DC out.

    See you guys @ the farmer’s market

  • I just read the article By King. It seems that the violence in his article did not even involve guns. That further proves my point that guns is a scapegoat issue. There are some young kids that will stomp you to death as well. Remember Rosenbaum, the writer from the NYT? He was beaten with a pipe. Keep focusing on guns and miss the bigger issue. It starts in their heads. Guns are just the more efficient and cowardly way of killing/robbing someone.

  • There is already a bill to provide mandatory minimums for firearm possession. The “Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2008”.

    See: at page 2, lines 20-24.

    Not sure what the status of the bill is, but the roundtable meeting regarding it has been postponed from its date of Nov. 10.

  • Nate,
    you have very interesting insights and perspectives. I agree it the issues are multi-pronged. What are you thoughts about what the solutions, despite how unrealistic you believe they are….

  • HBD: Apparently similar legislation has been proposed a bunch in the last few years and (at least according the Washingtonian article on the subject) Mendelson has killed the changes each time. He doesn’t “believe” in mandatory minimums, so the rest of us have to live with his coddling of repeat dangerous offenders.

    Nate: The deterrent effect of mandatory minimums, despite their detractors, is pretty clear. If nothing else there is a “direct deterrence” against at least one offender re-committing for five years. I understand your view that there is a bigger mess to clean up, but your factually wrong when you suggest that mandatory minimums don’t work. They have a track record. While wringing one’s hands and sounding like the old guy down the street screaming “get off my lawn” has a negligible effect on crime. Second, what “tougher” drug laws? What universe are you living in? DC drug laws carry no mandatories, thus the same revolving door applies. Federal drug crimes DO carry mandatory minimums, but guess what? The US Atty for DC secured only 157 cases federally in 2007 — in a city with 50,000 +/- arrests each year. I appreciate what you are saying about the culture, I really do, but your wrong about stiffer penalties in DC, there are none, and it’s about time there were. How do you explain the changes in New York? New Yorkers are somehow just better people than those in DC? No. It’s how it was handled.

  • Nate, for crying out loud. No one could legitimately argue against your assertions that there are some f’ed up people in the city. But I was hoping that this thread might be a starting place where we could talk about how we as citizens can affect our little part of the world. Not a rehashing of just how f’ed up some people are.

    I know it’s painful, I know it’s awful, I know you’ve seen some terrible things and I can sense your emotion about them. But you can’t let this stun you into apathy. I’ve said this to you before: if black people have such deep-grained, inherent pathology, how did you and I escape it?

    (I also just think you are wrong about the blaming-of-others that you claim black people do. When the Post did its big “Being A Black Man” series a couple of years ago, they polled black men and by and large, they did NOT blame others for their situations in life. While believing that racism exists, they were also pretty hard on themselves. I’d find the link but you can probably dig it up as fast as I am, and I’m sure you don’t believe me anyway so I’m not going to worry about it.)

    Do I think addressing DC’s gun laws will have an immediate or even medium-term impact on the fate of some families in the District? No. But you have to start somewhere. Please, let’s try to think about realistic efforts and move away from “magical thinking” (everyone should just learn to be better parents!) and despair.

    That’s why I was suggesting that maybe a first step, a baby step even, might be to really zero in on the gun operability statute. Why is that still stuck in committee (if that is indeed the issue)

  • if people want to wield guns and can’t follow the law and kill people they def need new consequences. Locking them up doesn’t seem to work, rehabilitation doesn’t seem to work and a slap on the wrist -please. If some kids turn out this way because they have had shitty lives and some turn out this way even with great lives then fixing the lives of some of the shitty situations will, it seems still result in the same thing. Thug life is too appealing with the music and movie industry idealizing it-that will also never change.

    It seems to me a fix would be to put gun offenders in the military. If they want to hold guns, kill people, and have the feel of power then lets ship them off to boot camp. If we are going to pay for them to live and eat and play in jail then we might as well pay for them to live and eat in Iraq so that the people who have already done their time over there can come home and not be constantly redeployed. Also, if people can be yelled at, “drilled” and molded into perfect obediant soldiers in the military why isn’t jail more like this?

    Also, hospitals should offer free sterilization to mothers (and fathers) who are clearly having more kids than they want or can deal with. It would have to be on them to decide of course, but if you are 16 and are on baby number 3, do you really want to be able to keep getting pregnant? I sure as hell would not. This probably sounds rediculous and over the top but if people’s attitudes and behaviors are not going to be changed then something else does. I’m not suggesting we strap people down and take away their rights and I’m sure someone is going to say that I have just turned people into say dogs and cats who are nuetered and spayed, but that is not my point here. Cats and dogs have no choices in this matter. The people would, just another form of birth control.

  • Christina: I, so far, have also not heard back from the council members on this. This seems to be a pattern for people who’ve written them directly. I’m actually quite surprised that they think ignoring the public on this is going to make it go away.

    I think a first step would be for as many of us as possible to write them (particularly Bowser and Mendelson) and ask (nicely) those two questions:

    (1) Where do you stand on doing away with the “operability” provision regarding possession of a firearm? and

    (2) Where do you stand on the proposed mandatory minimum punishments for felony (repeat offense) gun possession?

    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    We need to keep up the pressure on them, particularly Mendelson. If his quotes in the Washingtonian article are accurate, his priorities are unbelievable. In my mind there is no reasonable argument for not holding repeat offenders responsible — only nihilistic arguments like Nate’s — which while totally okay for Nate to have, are totally unacceptable for the council to have.

  • Lisa,
    There are NO viable solutions. Read my post about the lady with 3 kids living in a home with no water? She curses at them like dogs. Those kids are going to grow up to be angry kids. The only way to solve that is to a) take the kids and b) don’t let her have anymore. Good luck on housing all the kids like this and keeping all the unfit mothers from having more kids. It should not be more difficult to adopt a dog than have a child.

    The DC gun operability statue seems reasonable to me. If you catch someone with a gun that is inoperable then he is unable to use that gun on someone. That would seem to be unfair to charge him as you would charge a person with an operable handgun.

    Again, guns are not the issue. People are. I own guns. Yet, I am the most passive person you will ever meet.

    DC govt’s response is typical of black people. Instead of addressing yourself, you blame everyone and everything else. Affordable housing and schools come to mind.
    The same thing applies. DC has plenty of affordable housing. It just isn’t safe. So instead of making areas safe, they pass laws to provide artifially low rents to people that could live elsewhere. That does not solve problems. It exacerbates them and creates tensions between the haves and have nots.

    Same for schools. Ther eis a reason why Obama will not send his kids to DCPS and it has NOTHING to do with security. If the federal gov’t can secure a foreign country, it can secure a public school. DC spends billions renovating schools to improve achievement. Yet it is not the building but the kids that are the cause for low achievement in DCPS. I know a kid that beat his teacher to a pulp and was sent back to the same school in the same classroom with the same teacher. Instead of tackling that issue, which would require an honest assessment of the problem, we throw money at the problem hoping it will go away.

    These issue will be here for an eternity. All we can do is isolate the predators and hope for as little collateral damage (innocent bystanders, etc) as possible.

  • To a certain extent we do need to triage resources: hard core thugs need to incarcerated or killed without mercy while at-risk and needy youth need to be given every opportunity possible, unless of course they transit to hard core thug, in which case see above.

    I personally have no hope for DC gov’t, they’ve played this round robin of dodging responsibility for decades and seem to actually snicker at residents of the city in my opinion. The possibility that they collect serious money either from thugs (as payoffs, I doubt it actually) or from big-money developers who want the create Section 8 housing is very real, in which case they are literally profiting off our misery.

    I’d advocate engaging a private security firm to provide street-level security in the very at risk areas, which residents identify rather easily. This firm might possibly be armed, security guards do have that right, and could theoretically be given a legal mandate to protect certain homes and businesses at the request of owners of said locations. The overall funding is of course harder, any among us would loathe paying this out of pocket. However, luckily many of the shooting and murders are in fact predicted quite well by residents who clamor and shout as crew activity picks up and results in a shooting. These warnings (and 911 calls) could possibly constitute an effective notification of DC gov’t which they are then negligent in not responding to. Thus, the negligence could be grounds for a lawsuit, the proceeds of which could fund the aforementioned private security firm.

    An ugly and longer term solution to be sure, but had it been started five years ago perhaps many of the people worried about violence at present would be placated. I can guarantee you we had the same sorts of community meetings with DC gov’t on the topic five years ago, which got us where we are today (nowhere).

    Beyond that I start to advocate violent revolt and revolution.

    Note that regarding Colbert King and his articles, I read them as well and would like to point out that the Washington Post shirks its duty as a local news source but simply not reporting on many of the crimes King highlights. How many shootings and attacks are actually ever even mentioned in WashPost pages? For DC at least, this is very few. The reason for this is of course we live on the most illiterate and poorest blocks in the region, thus not a good market for a paper. However, perhaps King could comment on how the lack of local information sources contributes to crime in the long term.

  • Neener,
    Cops are not sociologists. DC cops especially. That is too tall of an order to ask for cops to change the culture of a community. All they can do is arrest them. Many DC cops are from the streets themselves. Remember there was a lady cop in 4d last year whose home in Petworth was RAIDED for drugs! Who is going to snitch when there is a contingent of cops in bed with the bad guys?

    We are in agreement. My point is that DC cannot staff local programs and, most especially, that community centers and related public efforts “For the kids” are staffed by people who used/abused, sold drugs, ran with gangs and crews and see nothing particularly wrong with it. Therefore, local programs staffed by local people will always fail. For instance, I read a blog by a teacher who complained that Michelle Rhee didn’t respect that two neighborhood schools had long-standing “beefs!” Well, duh! Do we look like ignorant jackasses? No? Then we don’t care about the neighborhood beefs. But programs where the kids get sent to work farms or camps out in West Virginia or Ohio or Arizona for 3 months might work. Community centers will just give kids more places to sell drugs.

  • These people are literally animals. As long as they continue to have the opportunity to breed, this is going to be a problem. Don’t kid yourselves that any amount of money or intervention outside of sterilization (yeah, I know that is eugenics and is a bad thing) or locking them up for life on a deserted artic island is going to fix the problem.

  • Putting aside how offensive it is to refer to humans as animals in the way you have, this is what I was referring to as “magical thinking.” We’re not going to sterilize people. We’re not going to be shipping people off to desert islands. We’re not going kill hard-core thugs “without mercy.” We’re not going to engage in violent revolt or revolution. So, since those things are off the table as realistic options, what CAN we do?

    And please don’t bother jumping on me because I said that an offensive comment is, indeed, offensive. I can see this discussion spinning off into another direction about the evils of political correctness or whatever. None of that is the point. The topic is “next steps in addressing violence in DC,” and washing your hands of the issue is not a useful next step.

    I don’t believe Nate when he says there are “NO viable solutions.” Nothing would ever change in this world if people had that kind of attitude. Nothing will change quickly, that I can believe. But something can always be done.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Christina would you like to pursue that aaron mentioned above and I’d be happy to help in any way you think would be useful?

  • Good points Christina, though I do think police action to kill or incarcerate hard core thugs is not entirely impossible. That’s how much of the rest of the country / world would address the issue, though of course with varying efficacy.

    But regardless: what about frequent, continual, high-money lawsuits against the city for negligence or some such? Is there any basis for such, and perhaps any lawyers around who might discuss it? This is DC after all, we have more lawyers than probably any other city. Of course they’re generally lobbyists or patent lawyers I guess.

  • The living situations Nate described are no exaggeration. I worked as a children’s librarian in far Southeast, and the kids I saw on a regular basis were dealing with some harrowing situations. Many of you would be hard pressed to believe this was the same city in which Cashion’s Eat Place exists. Though the “North Country” is hardly Beverly
    Hills, the “border crossing” involved in returning home began to really mess with my insides. It was hard looking at a wine list 20 minutes after talking to some kid who casually told you he and his family just buried his brother/cousin/whomever.
    One after school regular used to like to shake his very thick roll of bills in my face
    and ask “how much money you make”? I told him that if he was going to risk his neck hustling, he should at least use the money for a decent place to live. He just
    looked at me and laughed. Oh, and Steve-Somewhere -Adolf Hitler is smiling.

  • geez this discussion deteriorated quickly…sterilization, locking people up….some really great ideas being generated about ‘community action’….i really thought PoPville was more creative/caring than what shows through in the above comments…its understandable that people are frustrated/scared/angry, but real community-based change takes time, hard work and not inane quick fixes that have sadly been enforced upon the poorest of this country for years with little success beyond limiting the liberty of those mistreated

  • PoP, I’ll look more into; I feel like Odentex has a lot of knowledge here, I’m definitely not the one with the expertise in sentencing. I just want to do something more worthwhile than just thinking about how bad things are.

  • Knightpulse seems redundant: we seem to deal with very basic (ie not sophisticated) failures in governance, and we already go to meetings with DC gov, and are ignored it seems. Knightpulse may engender a discussion, but its already happening here and in lots of places. A video-led blog discussion doesn’t seem to be a solution, though the funding results might be.

  • Steve is right. Wolves don’t breed sheep. And you can’t turn a wolf into a sheep. But you can turn a sheep into a wolf. Just neglect it or leave it around too many wolves for long enough.

    Neener, the reason that DC hires the ex felons is because, in the part of the black community that needs help, these are the only ones that are seemingly effective. Ex felons essentially are tasked to speak to the future felons. For many young black men, prison is seen as a walk in the park. Who can tell them otherwise, except someone that has been there? With that being the case, a young professional like myself has no credibility telling a thug how it ain’t cool to go to prison. Believe me. I have tried it.

    You want to see how twisted the black community is? Just watch Lockup on MSNBC. Most of the prisoners wear long white t-shirts. Guess what the chosen fashion is among thugs in our community? Yep, the same white tees. Prison fashion is being emulated! It can’t get worse than that.

    There is a reason why Rhee’s appointment was so highly contested in much of the black community? Many black people thought she would not be able to “relate” to the black community. It is as if the educational needs of blacks are unique from the rest of the population.

  • Okay, so the voluntary steralization plan is way off the map as is permanent incarceration. Perhaps give them a choice…10 years in the Marine Corps or 10 years to life in prison. The Marines have helped a good many young people find purpose in thier lives. I am not saying it is perfect, but the military service, particulary the Marines and the Army to a lessor extent, are very good and breaking people down and building them back up.

  • “So, since those things are off the table as realistic options, what CAN we do? …
    I don’t believe Nate when he says there are “NO viable solutions.” Nothing would ever change in this world if people had that kind of attitude. Nothing will change quickly, that I can believe. But something can always be done.”

    In 20 years from now ,when nothing has changed, will you believe me then? There are people that lived here in the 80’s and they thought things would change. I have been in DC 9 years, and 6 years in Petworth . Nothing has changed. Actually things have gotten worse as the older ones have been replaced by younger more violent ones. Your best bet is that gentrification will sweep enough of the bad guys out that they have no one to shoot or stomp to death.

  • PoPers,

    this is an awesome discussion. as an online community with eyes and ears in a real geographic area, i think we have a couple options.

    first, political action: votes, pressure on ANC, etc.

    second, partnering with the police. If we established a website where we could consistently update news about our little patches of CH/Petworth with live data, we’d have an amazing way to guide police action, partner with groups like Guardian Angels, etc. Think of it like a google earth map with day-by-day updates on tags, drug dealers, lurkers, actual crimes, police action, quality of life issues that attract crime (broken windows, etc.). the result would be a community-based site much like COMSTAT, the crime mapping tool used so effectively by NYPD.

    we could also map positive events and fixtures that have a positive influence on the hood.

    check it out:

    we can probably find a company or an academic willing to provide the software and guide our efforts for free. We’ll also need to find a cooperative member of the MPD – any ideas of ambitious, honest police officers out there?

    PoP, drop me an email if folks seem interested. i’m no techie, but i’m happy to volunteer time for something like this.

  • from an email that i sent to phil mendelson on his stance on the operability law and minimum sentencing:

    Mr. ______: The operability bill is a measure I introduced. It may move out of committee this Friday. Minimum sentencing: there are already a number of mandatory minimums in the code; the Mayor recently proposed one or two more. We tried to hold a hearing on the proposal last week, but witnesses were not ready and the Executive was pleased it was postponed. The questions you ask really involve lengthy answers. If the ANC or other community groups want me to attend and engage in a discussion, let me know. I’d be happy to participate. – Phil Mendelson

    i would love to see mr mendelson at an anc meeting in the near future for a little fireside chat on the issues…submitting the request to joe martin now!

  • “In 20 years from now ,when nothing has changed, will you believe me then?”

    Nope. I don’t believe you now. Things are different, and better in some ways, right now, compared to 20 years ago. I wish that confirmation bias allowed you to see that. But you’re only allowing yourself to internalize the awful things so that you can confirm what you already believe. I’ve seen things change in Columbia Heights over the time I’ve lived here, and that’s been shorter than 20 years. (Though I’ve lived here longer than you.)

    (You really think that NOTHING has changed in Petworth? Nothing at all? I’m not talking about crime-free perfection here, but there have been ZERO improvements in your eyes?)

    Look, I’m not aiming for some kind of dreamworld, free of all crime and meanness and f’ed up people. That’s not going to happen, and I’m not a fool. I know that there are deep, deep problems that have many roots. I’m trying to see what I can do to make things better in my own tiny way. If it turns out that you’re right, it’ll just be my time that was wasted, not yours.

    nate, living around here has made you deeply unhappy, based on your comments. Why do you stay?

  • People undergo voluntary sterilization all the time…they just call it vasectemys and hysterectemys …I’m not making this shit up here people. I just suggested offering it free to those who obviously can’t afford it any more than they can afford having another baby they never wanted in the first place.

    And I never called us animals, but really, we all are animals…we just give ourselves more credit than we deserve because what, we wear clothes and have opposible thumbs? We are the most violent and treacherous of all the animals in the animal kingdom. A lot of these “lesser” animals that you are so offended to be compared to are much more civil and humane to one another than we are as a people in almost all facets of ourselves. And no I’m not some animal activist or tree hugger, I am just making a point here.

    As for the military I would not offer an option of jail or military…again it seems that jail would be the easier and more often picked option. People need a change and sometimes it needs to come from a rude awakening. Remember when the biggest threat a parent would give their son for being out of line…”Don’t make me ship you off to military school…” It scared people straight for a reason.

  • If people believe there is nothing that can be done then there is truly nothing that they can do. The idea that this city cannot be safer is debunked by dozens of other cities, like NYC, that have made such changes.

    The key is priorities.

    While finally doing something about the deplorable state of public education and trying to rescue young people before they ruin their lives (and other’s lives) is an important component, we need to act like rational adults and not pollyanna cowards when discussing violent, repeat offenders. Perhaps you have never been the victim of a violent attack, perhaps no one you know lives in fear of being robbed or shot simply for walking down the wrong street, but this is how many of our neighbors live, day in, day out. The honest truth is that most of us, despite how some of us easily talk about eugenics, really don’t know what it’s like for many people who are forced to live with this scourge every day.

    I wish that I had a videotape of the lady who spoke up at the Thursday meeting about her concerns on Buchanan avenue for you to look at. While her two little girls were fidgeting around at her feet she talked about the dozens of men that were constantly gathering right behind her house, how she heard random gunfire, and she was frightened to let her girls out of her sight. The elected DC official’s answer (Shanel Anthony) was “do you know who your ANC is?” Pathetic.

    Perhaps someone has to shoot out your windows before you’ll get the hint that some people won’t respond to “community programs” or ever be suitable for “job programs.” Personally I can’t understand people who would throw up their arms and say “ain’t nothing that can be done.”


    There is plenty that can be done. It’s been done from New York to Portland. A police force that patrols the city and mandatory punishment (CERTAINTY of punishment) will drive down the number of guns and gunmen on the streets of this city. Those that poo-poo this notion, what’s your proven solution? The degradation of man has gone on for thousands of years, no matter how pathological and pathetic the life of some children and men in this city is it isn’t any worse than the lives people led in the Lower East Side or in the shadow of the Pyramids.

    Extending a hand is noble and needed, but drawing the line is necessary as well. Until the leaders of this city are held to account for their shocking lack of concern for gun crime, people will continue to ignore the laws until the shots ring out. Once people note their associates going away for 5 and 10 year stretches without parole, then we’ll see results. It’s not a theory. It’s been proven time and time again from New York to Portland.

    Write Mendelson and Bowser and tell them to DO IT.

    Nate: I note you mention you have guns. Now your opposition to strict penalties for possession makes sense. So much for not being part of the pathology of DC.

  • Oregonian, I have the technical skills to pull that off, and tried something similar about three years ago, as have others. There are a couple sites that map crime reports in DC which negate the need for another such site, and thus the real value in such a site is to collect community input on where people feel unsafe, where they spot new but possibly innocuous activities, and map all that online a singular place to engender discussion. However, MPD and DC gov already collect such info via 911/311 calls, and as stated they seemingly choose to ignore it or do not have the resources to address it.

    So, if PoP or you or anyone do need a techie to advise on this I am happy to do so. Actually doing it may require more time than I can commit to, but I am at your service in terms of moving the discussion forward.

  • “A lot of these “lesser” animals that you are so offended to be compared to are much more civil and humane to one another than we are as a people in almost all facets of ourselves. And no I’m not some animal activist or tree hugger, I am just making a point here.”

    If you think a comment like “these people are literally animals,” followed up with a comment about eugenics and desert islands, is the same as saying “hey, we’re all mammals and by the way, some animals are really nice!” then I think you missed Steve’s point. He meant a harsh criticism, and I took it as such. By the way, I didn’t think that he was calling *me* an animal, so I’m not personally offended at all.

    I’m just wondering why a thread about constructive action is gradually turning into a “we can’t do anything! Fuck ’em all, they’re just animals!” thread. Cool, I get it, you think most of the human race is irredeemable. Can the rest of us just turn to our obviously pointless work in peace?

    Damn, sometimes it seems like half the problem is the screwed up DC council, half is the screwed-up kids, and the other half of the problem is people who want to criticize, drag everyone else down, and dream of a day when people can be sterilized at will and shipped off to Supermaxes.

    Okay, I know that adds up to more than 1. So sue me. 🙂

  • I own a gun as well, its legal and registered and all that. I’d prefer not to own a gun, and I don’t carry a gun with me when walking about though I often feel its appropriate. I’d greatly prefer and effective police force and legal system that negates my desire to protect myself. What I resent is the double standard of being told I can’t carry a gun, and shouldn’t need a gun, as I hear gunfire popping off most nights. At some point we need to be responsible for protecting ourselves and our families, and whether we like it or not guns are part of that equation. Again, I’d prefer police, but apparently my opinion doesn’t matter….

  • Pennywise brings up another point that merits discussion. While Chief Lanier was very vocal last week that MPD doesn’t lack resources I am wondering why, then, she needs to constantly employ emergency gimmicks like “all hands on deck” weekends.

    While I don’t want to distract the discussion too far to police action (another topic done to death before), If MPD isn’t suffering from a dearth of resources it certainly seems to be suffering from a lack of coordinated use of those resources when it comes to patrolling and dealing with well-reported nuisances (like hanging out in alleys) before they become issues that involve gunplay and deaths. If MPD really doesn’t have a resource issues then why is the woman on Buchanan still dealing with the reincarnation of 5 Points behind her house?

    Note: I’d ask this question on the MPD 4D yahoo list, but the administrator won’t post my messages! Some “forum”!

  • “nate, living around here has made you deeply unhappy, based on your comments. Why do you stay?”
    Christina, I will leave when I have kids unless I can afford private school. I will admit that it pains me to see so many young men that grew up very similar to me getting gunned down at such an early age. What pains me more is that there is no acknowledgement of the problem. Just throw money at it and hope the problem goes away. Every majority black city in America has the same issues. So no escaping the issue by leaving DC and going to another big city.

    “Nate: I note you mention you have guns. Now your opposition to strict penalties for possession makes sense. So much for not being part of the pathology of DC.”

    You damn right. I go into the heart of SE and deal with people that will “slump” you as the young ones say for no reason. I have had 2 people killed near my properties. I’ll take my chances than wait on DC MPD to protect me. All the landlords I know are packing. But, I have never shot anyone. So I don’t fit into the pathology that you speak of. My guns are for protection. I keep my shotgun (a present from my mom) in my home. Liberals rail on guns and tell the populace to rely on the police while they live in good neighborhoods in no need of guns. Fenty has round the clock protection. Lanier likely does too. I don’t have that. So I protect myself. You should do the same…

  • I am tempted to cut and paste the history of an email exchange I had with Phil Mendelson on crime in DC where he made every excuse in the book to protect the criminals, and even said MPD has all the tools they need to stop crime in DC. He should not get re-elected.

    Personally, I think the only solution is extremely stiff penalties for repeat offenders but it has to involve some kind of rehabilitation effort. Some people balk at that but even if you only have a 10% success rate its still worth the effort. The only way is to get these kids out of thier neighborhoods, homelife, etc. I say we build a farm out in WV and send these kids there for strict boot camp style reform….

  • Pennywise,

    I’ve seen a couple of those sites, I think, but they tend to leave markers of crimes that occurred months apart. i suppose it’s useful from a gestalt assessment of a neighborhood, but COMSTAT is a day-by-day, hour by hour type of tool that, when populated, literally shows the ebb and flow of disorder in a neighborhood.

    But i think you’re right that the role of the site wouldn’t be documenting where police-confirmed “crimes” have occurred, but to communicate disorder and suspicious behavior from a community perspective.

    The advantage of doing it ourselves, I think, is that information is power. which is why it’s so maddening to report things to the police and have them do nothing. if we have the info, then we can direct the city to correct problems, point to the failures of the police force, partner with guardian angels (specifically), etc.

    Also, check this out:

    it’s a movement to go beyond bland “community policing” and re-invigorate the police function. i know the Director, so might be able to get him on board as an advisor (or suggest someone else).

    PoP, will you connect pennywise and I via email?

  • Odentex,
    BTW, guns are legal in DC. Just thought you might want to know that.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I don’t have “pennywise’s” email but if you both email me directly I can connect you that way.

  • Nate, I agree that in some ways it’s gotten worse. I saw kids steal bikes when I moved to DC, but as of late I’ve heard about kids who basically assault people in a gang and move on. What changed was instead of having 12 tough street families on the block in rentals, we have 1 really criminal family. But in some ways, when there were 12 families on the block the competition kept people in line. We had a LOT more street drunks, but we never saw any guns. Almost once a month between 3am-6am we hear gunshots. in the 90s there would have been street drunks or addicts out and on the block at that time.

    I am of the complete and total belief that Obama as a leader will inspire a generation of kids born in the last 3-5 years that they are responsible members of society. I believe that his celebrity will reduce by half the number of kids who want to emulate gangsters as role models. I really believe this. But, like he Huxtable didn’t change kids overnight, this will take a full generation to have an impact- 12 years minimum.

    I have major issues with the cultural construct that crime and criminals are ok and can be around our children.

    When I was a kid we had an amazing hippy art teacher who did daily after school programs with us. We are talking full-on beard to his waist, tie-dyed shirts, homemade pants, playing a mandolin, not wearing shoes in school, meditating in a giant pyramid hippy. When I was in high school one of my friends who was wrapped up in drugs used to talk about how Mr. X was all into drugs. I never thought that, but think about it, some kid is exposed to drug use ideas later on and then matches that to their impressions of this hippy, so they do it and told me it was “ok” because there was a hippy in their lives. Are ex-felons going to teach these guys how to apply for and take AP classes so they can get good scholarships? Hell no, a Felon can talk about jail and prison and these kids are still just as wrapped up in prison or jail culture as when they listened to gangster rap, if not MORE obsessed with prison as an option.

    This reminds me of a guy I worked with, he once asked me which martial arts I felt most connected to philosophically. None, of course. But then he went on to talk about whether jujitsu, shaolin kung fu, Tae Kwon Do, American Karate, Japanese Karate, the Israeli one, the Brazilian one made more sense, etc. I mean the guy’s entire childhood was based around martial arts and which one to train for and choose. This guy didn’t listen to music to speak of, he didn’t play an instrument, he didn’t read much or write poetry, etc. His options as he saw the shape of not only his life, but others’ lives was a choice between martial arts. When felons teach kids are kids actually shaping their lives based on their relationship to prison of one kind or another rather than disregarding prison as anything remotely normal?

    Isn’t this all a

  • I’d be willing to help out in what ever way I could with the KnightPulse angle.

    If it turned into any kind of funding I’d consider it a success.

    We could press local media to cover it, even if it was mostly a symbolic attempt at improvement. And if they didn’t pick it up, we could cover it ourselves on local blogs.

    From my perspective, we have to from Obama that the only way to create change is to create a movement w/ A LOT of grassroot support.

    His political capital was crowdsourced. He didn’t play the game w/ insiders, he appealed directly to masses of people. And he used the internet very effectively.

    I think the point shouldn’t be the most expert critic of government, which it seems like a lot of people are, it should be to make attempts to fill the space that government is not filling – which I think all of us have some perspective on.

    This is the government that brought us this economic crisis.

    Until the government on all levels shows me I can trust them w/ my time and energy, I’m going to find other places to invest. That’s a practical truth.

    A community driven campaign against crime sounds good to me. I’m up for trying something.

  • Kalia – I brought up the prospect of giving defendants a choice – do a full prison term or submit to a vascetomy (one could even toss a sperm bank deposit in there just in case somr get thier act together and actually want to plan a family). My idea was dismissed on this blog as eugenics – possibly rightly, I don’t know. I just see it as a way to end the cycle of unwanted children growing up to commit more crime and siring more unwanted children who will commit more crimes.

  • Isn’t this all an issue like the eskimos who have 200 words for snow? The kids today, trained and focused on jail have 200 words for drugs and crime that 99% of society would never make part of their conscious thought for more than a few minutes of a detective show? Do you know what I’m talking about? That the focus is on crime and criminals and not on, you know, asking each kid on the street what kind of company he’s going to form when he’s 18?

    Because my wife had a male assistant who was pretty “Street” and HATED working in an office. He really bucked the powers that be in that office and one Christmas party, he’s going into the standard complaints about not liking office work and how his boss wasn’t treating him right when I just asked him to his face why he didn’t make house painting, which he had offered to do for us, his full-time career where he founded a company, put a sign on the side of his car and got people who were flipping houses in Northeast to pay him $500 per room to paint their houses. I told him how to look for houses that just sold and where to go to get advertising cards printed up. Within 3 months he had left that office and had a full-time house painting business. A street or ghetto man who had long suffered under the wrongly focused anger that the “man” was keeping him down suddenly realized that he himself was the man whenever he wanted to take the steering wheel and hire day laborers.

    Why aren’t kids starting their own painting businesses and why aren’t they being mentored exclusively by entrepreneurs who have never done drugs and never been in jail?

  • “I am of the complete and total belief that Obama as a leader will inspire a generation of kids born in the last 3-5 years that they are responsible members of society. I believe that his celebrity will reduce by half the number of kids who want to emulate gangsters as role models. I really believe this. But, like he Huxtable didn’t change kids overnight, this will take a full generation to have an impact- 12 years minimum.”

    If anyone thinks Obama can change this, I invite you to come along to some of the households I enter on a monthly basis. Listen at how the parents talk to the kids. See how these people are truly living. What you will see will blow your mind and depress you at the same time.

    I have seen the families disintegrate. Now, i see mothers selling drugs with the kids. Kids smoking drugs with the mom. Kids skipping school hanging out with the mom’s boyfriend. I am telling you this sh!t is absolutely amazing.

    I’ve heard mothers refer to their sons as their “lil mandingo” as a sexual reference. I have seen men get out on prison for child molestation and take up residence with women with kids. I have seen pregnant mothers drinking, doing drugs. I have seen mothers riding in cars that the sons have stolen. Or sold drugs to buy. I have heard parents brag about their kid getting caught on tape “running a train” on a girl in Roosevelt High School.

    The gov’t can not solve this level of dysfunction. When I say that there is nothing that can be done, this is why.

  • regarding the vasectomy issue. On my block there is one 25 year old with three children by three different women. His brother and his friends make fun of him for that. His friends are every bit as street and tough as he is but they all use condoms. He won’t. This is why I caution people into thinking that somehow the guys on the street are too stupid to understand what they’re doing. Many of them are “normal” with a “normal” intelligence and they make a concerted and planned effort to do wrong.

    I believe that a concerted effort to only show people the right way to go about life is the only way to go. Moral questions are failing these kids.

    This reminds me of an important question in the film Heathers. The teacher tells the kids, “The decision whether or not to commit suicide is the most important decision a teenager can make.” Yes, that’s literally true, but it’s just as ignorant as asking a teenager whether or not they will commit crimes. It gives them the concept that they have a choice to make that is morally equivalent. They can decide whether or not to commit murder and pay the price if they’re found guilty. This is opposed to my parents who, under no circumstances, allowed any such discussion of whether or not I could or would make bad choices- it was simply that I would not and they knew I would NEVER DO SUCH A THING and that, combined with Ian Mackaye reminding everyone that drug use is for rich nerds, which it still is, and I never touched drugs in my entire life and neither did half of my friends in bands.

  • I’d love to chat with some folks off line, or maybe another thread can be started for the “give up/there’s nothing that can be done/folks are animals/how about sterilization/maybe forced labor camps!/more capital punishment” crowd. Since I’m not at that mindset (yet), this diversion in a thread that was supposed to be about “next steps” is pretty discouraging.

    Positivity is a hard enough thing to maintain in the face of dysfunction. When the dysfunction is coming even from “good” folks, it’s even more difficult.

  • These are the same types of sentiments that I see in a smaller fashion in my condo. People are quick to complain, oh yes! But when it comes to doing some work, no, that’s someone else’s job, not theirs.

  • Actually, myself and a few residents have been working on something significant for nearly a year, and tonight is our final meeting before trying to sell the proposal to the city. If everything goes as expected I will emial POP tonight and try to get lots of blog support for getting the community to support this plan with the city. Let me just say it involves doing something that will keep kids out of trouble by coordinating a number of existing entities. Its not a boot camp, I promice you that, this is for people who are not at that point yet.

  • Wow. I’ve lived in DC for ten years and in the Dupont/Petworth/Mount Pleasant/Adams Morgan area the whole time. If you don’t think things have gotten at all better, I’m shocked. I’m with Christina.

    Have any of you actually been in the armed forces? I haven’t either but I think it’s presumptuous/dangerous to suggest that we put criminals into the military. While the military may be a practical way to reform some wild young people – that’s hardly its primary purpose. I’d like to hear from someone in the armed forces about how they’d view such a plan.

    Frankly I think the argument that “They grew up with no running water so of course they’re angry” is just the flip side of “But Barack Obama is so articulate and calm!” Such lowered expectations of young people of color can be more damning than the original situation. People in China are growing up without running water too. Some of them will lead us in 30 years. Some people who are currently children in SE will too. And there will also be a surburban teen with a 50″ flat screen TV in Bethesda or Grosse Pointe who will commit a heinous murder. Class is not destiny. Neither is race. I work with students every day who are living their lives, applying to college and working their tails off to prove it.

    Change is possible. Just not probable in the comment thread of a blog.

  • Christina, I understand your discouragement. However, you’re not the first to want to do something, not by a long shot. The collective frustration you see here is not simply the result of a bunch of do-nothings who like to gripe. Many people over many years have sought to change crime and whatnot in DC, and we’re simply ignored. So, maybe you can learn from the frustrated folks, provided your skin is think enough to tolerate the griping.

    And there are some evident threads here: asides the griping, one camp seems to be saying (DC gov needs more of our help and input) and we need to organize and convey that. Another camp seems to be saying lets attack (politically of course) Mendelson and Bowser and demand they change laws, or throw the bastards out.

    And then there’s me advocating a shadow government and eventually violent revolt against our our colonial stooge oppressors 😉

    I am Pennywise after all. We all float down here.

  • This is an intriguing, comprehensive project I’m keeping my eye on.

  • If you think living without running water-the basic level of sanitary conditions-won’t cause someone to be bitter then you are on the opposite side of most sociologists and psychologists. That is extreme relative deprivation. If it is no big deal, why does DC gov’t see that as cause to take a kid out of a home? If you have no water, you can’t flush toilet (feces was filled to the rim of the toilet), brush your teeth, take a shower, etc. Imagine how those kids are treated in school. CHild abuse has quite an effect on children.

    More to the point, if a mother won’t provide that, then what else is lacking? Caring? Nurturing? And if a mother is unable to provide water, then there must be a reason. Drugs. Mental issues. All of the above. Remember the lady that killed her kids in SE? Her water was off too. Funny thing is that the lady didn’t have water but her cable was on. She also had beer and cigarettes.

  • Nate:

    “I don’t fit into the pathology that you speak of. My guns are for protection.”

    Ah Nate, but didn’t you say, on more than one occasion, that these fellas are arming themselves for “protection”? It seems you have a similar reasoning whether you want to admit it or not. I’m sure there is a lot of rationalizing to go around… and if abundant firearms actually “protected” us, wouldn’t we then be the safest nation on the face of the earth?

    I used to own a lot of weapons and I grew up in a home where, among other things, we had a fully automatic AR-15. I’ve taken tactical pistol training and used to have a concealed carry permit. When I was young I used to travel around the country with a .45 APC in the small of my back — the family business involved spending a lot of time working in unfamiliar cities in public housing complexes. Some places in Chicago, Bridgeport, New Orleans, LA — and even the good ‘ol 5th Ward in H-Town — would make Ward 8 seem very familiar. Perhaps this experience is why it makes me giggle when people are wary of Petworth.

    But, like you, I never needed it. Never even came close.

    For people who carry, even people who were well trained and spent a lot of time at the range like I did, the numbers just don’t support my decision then or your decision now. It’s just one of those times when powerful feelings of “conventional wisdom” just don’t jibe with the hard facts about guns used as “protection”. Particularly pistols.

    These are facts I’m sure you know well:

    – The oft-quoted NIJ (DOJ) study from 1993 noted that you are 4 times more likely to be killed with your own pistol than use it in self-defense.

    – 70% of all murders involve firearms, according to the FBI, 91% of those guns used are pistols.

    – An Atlanta Police study also notes that people actually are able to use a weapon in “self-defense” in less than 2% of all reported crimes.

    – According to the ATF, over three quarters of the guns used in crimes are stolen guns, and half were stolen less than three years before they were used by the offender. Every year approximately 300,000 guns are reported stolen.

    The fact is that the source of most of the weapons being used in crimes were people just “protecting themselves” like you.

    Later in life I worked in criminal justice system and spent time working cases that involved the use of firearms. I got rid of all my firearms, not as a political statement, but simply because I found them useless — and rather than take the much more likely chance that they’d be used on me by somebody else (which, as I’m sure you agree, increases the longer someone knows me), I sold them to scared people looking to feel better.

    I want to be clear, I am not for a ban on firearms, nor do I oppose you or anyone else having as many pistols as you want to, assuming you’ve met a minimum background check and follow the law. While it’d be nice if we could remove all pistols from the country I recognize it isn’t a practical solution (sort of like legalizing drugs).

    BUT, like anyone else, you should obey the law and you should not be carrying a weapon out on the streets of this city. In my opinion you are just making yourself part of the problem — not the least of which being that the number one source for most weapons used in crime in the USA is theft from a legal owner.

    You are nothing more than a mobile gun dispenser for some future criminal.

    If DC institutes concealed carry, fine, carry your gun. Until then I would support the prosecution of anyone that breaks the law by carrying a gun. Until we all take the laws seriously and have serious penalties for those who break it then we’ll continue to have anarchy with everyone feeling they can be a law unto themselves.

  • “So, maybe you can learn from the frustrated folks, provided your skin is think enough to tolerate the griping.”

    YES, YES, I want to learn. So please, frustrated folks, let’s talk something that you’ve tried that worked or didn’t work, so we all can learn. Maybe there are different tactics to take. That would be *awesome.* As opposed to just continuous griping.

    I say again, I’m not an idiot, I don’t think that can sprinkle magic pixie dust on a gangbanger and make him a model citizen. I was just thinking about concrete steps, small steps: getting rid of gun operability statutes. Mandatory minimums for gun crimes. Meeting with city officials — if Phil Mendelsohn is supportive of a meeting, I think that’s great.

    If someone is going to be a gangbanger in this city, I want him to pay a serious price for that choice. This is not the wish of a Pollyanna. This is about, at the very least, trying to make some of the gangbangers who have two brain cells to rub together think first before acting.

  • I found a pretty interesting speech Obama gave in DC in July 2007 about urban issues in which he mentions the Harlem Children’s Zone (thanks RedHead for mentioning):

    “when I’m President, the first part of my plan to combat urban poverty will be to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone in twenty cities across the country. We’ll train staff, we’ll have them draw up detailed plans with attainable goals, and the federal government will provide half of the funding for each city, with the rest coming from philanthropies and businesses.”


    I’m curious how much money there would be for this, but it’s an awesome idea.

    I am glad to hear that he mentions nutrition as well. I feel like low-income children are probably just as nutrient-starved as kids in the 3rd world, maybe worse.

  • Christina: I’m hoping we can convince them to hold another round table in the evening so we can get as many people as possible in to discuss this and (more importantly) get them to commit one way or the other about supporting these changes. I think we just have to keep up the pressure and keep people informed.

  • The Harlem’s Children Zone wasn’t as successful as was first hoped. But there are lessons to be learned there, I’m sure.

  • Thanks for link RedHead. Very interesting stuff. Have you followed Rhee very closely?

  • Again, I’d advocate against taking the standard ‘communicate our thoughts and fears to DC gov and MPD.’ Time and time again this has been done with no result. Bowser and Mendelson don’t seem to really care, or are keenly aware of their lack of power. Lanier is likely forbidden from ever saying anything like “I don’t have enough officers”. I bet you get more mileage out of threatening stuff like lawsuits and private security firms (Blackwater DC, hmmm), which will get attention at least, which then may lead to legislative action. Brinkmanship is a shite way to do things, but it does exist for a reason.

    And keep eyes/ears open for anticrime council candidates, support them early and perhaps Bowser/Mendelson (B/M, bowel movement? Coincidence!!??) will get scared and try to cut them off.

    Or we can all vote with our feet and get the hell out. I dream of a posting a ‘hello from Maryland!’ message to this blog at times….

  • houseintherear

    (Didn’t have the time or energy to read all of the comments… sorry if I am repeating anything)

    Recently on NPR there was an interview with someone that I should remember. He gave a nice basic reason for youth’s crime issues. They see death everywhere, as we know… movies, video games, music videos, television, etc. Of course, humans have seen death for as long as there has been humanity. The difference lies in the weight put on death. Death was a personal issue before mainstream media- it happened to your family, your friends’ families, your loved ones. It affected a person directly. Today, death happens to others, and we do not feel the weight of the death. In a video game, a hooker is killed for not sucking you off, and you put a cap in her ass and walk on… No weight. This is all the children know, death is there and it happens and there is nothing more to it. They have no issue causing the death when the weight of the death itself is nonexistent.

    And how do we go back from that?

  • People are quick to complain, oh yes! But when it comes to doing some work, no, that’s someone else’s job, not theirs.

    I work on PTA issues for the kids 2 nights a week. I’m full, but just because you don’t see me doesn’t mean I’m not working on these issues to the best of my ability. I’m setting up fundraisers and related PTA functions. Heck I’m reading to my own kids 30 minutes a night.

  • Neener, if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. 🙂 If you were following the conversation, I think it was clear what I was talking about. But I think I’m being misunderstood, so that’s a good time to gracefully withdraw.

  • Lin: Blaming video games and movies is the last bastion of ignorant “culture warriors”. Since man could talk and scribble on cave walls our stories have been about sex and violence. The USA today is more of a “death culture” than ancient Rome with it’s gladiators and spectacles? More than Nazi Germany with it’s efficient camps and modern gas chambers? More than all the smiting and sex in the friggin’ Bible?

    Give it a rest.

  • “So how do we harness this energy? This is one of the most useful conversations (of many useful conversations!) I’ve seen on this board. It makes me feel like there’s something I can actually do, rather than just participate in yet another thread of with a lot of people bitching about blacks and gentrification and “why don’t you move back to the suburbs” and “I’m selling my house, these people are animals” or whatever.”

    It seems like any thread on this site (or any site for that matter) that involves conversation about violence/crime turns into a “hate thread”. I would’ve participated more but it’s hard to gather the energy needed to combat such ignorance.

  • What might do you good, DS, is to consider how I position myself in relation to the people I knew on my grandmother’s “block” in rural pennsylvania.

    Every one of the kids I knew from that block is dead. Car, offroad, gun, and military accidents. Assault and shooting victims. they look like me and had the same basic culture as my grandmother, but the pathological part of their rural culture, the gun/hunting obsession, the drunk driving, the violence was something I always rejected. I can tell you that no one wrote anything here that involved genetics, this is about cultural-based choices and open for valid criticism. Is that hate to you? Why? Do you think we meant is as hate?

    To quote my wife… I was angry about my neighbors blasting lite jazz super loud at their pre-election party and I was cussing around about it and she said, “Wow, I’m glad to here you say that.” Why? I asked. “Because every time you complained about our neighbors loud music before it was rap and I thought you were turning right wing.” So there you go. It’s not that I don’t like rap. It’s that I don’t like someone else’s music invading my house without my permission and up until last month the only music that did that was rap from someone’s car.

  • Neener: OR you just don’t like loud music, grandpa.

    [Oden imagines Neener on his front porch screaming “get off my lawn!”]

  • houseintherear


    First of all, a simple blaming of video games was not at all the content of my comment.

    Secondly, I was paraphrasing an interesting interview. I thought others might benefit, provided they did not hear said interview. Personally, it made me look at the old “video games are bad” argument in a new way, so I thought it might do the same for others.

    In no way was I solely blaming media for the violence of today.

    (Do you truly not believe that mainstream media has an affect on youth?)

    Seriously, I’m SICK of people jumping to key words and forming an opinion on a comment or writing before REALLY READING IT. Deeper levels of thinking can be useful at times… we should all exercise them. You obviously need more exercise.

  • “Death was a personal issue before mainstream media- it happened to your family, your friends’ families, your loved ones. It affected a person directly. Today, death happens to others, and we do not feel the weight of the death.”

    Considering how many DC kids can say that they’ve lost a loved one to gun violence, I don’t think it’s plausible to suggest that they feel death is something that happens to “others.” When you have 18 year olds wearing t-shirts commemorating dead friends or relatives, that’s a death that affects them personally.

    I think that some may have a nihilistic attitude because they feel death is unavoidable, but I don’t think I can agree at all with the NPR commenter saying “They have no issue causing the death when the weight of the death itself is nonexistent.” These kids have seen death in a way that I never did when I was young.

  • Chill Lin. When I point out that such arguments are sophomoric and have been done to death, instead of engaging your “deeper levels of thinking” you get your feelings all hurt and take it personal. Sorry muffin, but “I’m SICK of people jumping to key words and forming an opinion on a [subject like violence and death in the media] or writing before REALLY READING [about] IT.”

    It’s just a suggestion, but maybe you didn’t learn all you need to know about this topic by listening to a 5 minute story on the radio. Suggesting that “depersonalization” of violence and death in movies, music, and videogames is somehow a factor in youth violence is comparable to saying you can get AIDS from a toilet seat. Sure, it can’t be 100% disproved since it is technically possible that the HIV virus could survive long enough in a hot john to jump up your hoo-hoo… but you tend to look like you don’t know much about the topic when you suggest such things. Additionally, you shouldn’t be surprised when people smirk at such suggestions dismissively.

    Also, for someone who “didn’t have the energy” to read the entire section it’s sorta hard to take you seriously when you get on that soapbox. If you had bothered to read what people wrote here you’d know that the commentary (like Nate and Neener’s for example) has brought out vivid points about these young people’s home lives (if you can call it that) that make the notion of “violent media” impact so passe as to be laughable. We’ve been talking about things that actually effect people, like absent and insane parents, not hoakum.

    And to answer your question emphatically, “no”, violent media images have no measurable, empirical impact on the behavior of young people. Such theories about the “corruption” of pristine American youth by “sick culture” have been around for at least 50 years and the ebb and flow of violence and crime among the youthful cohort of our population goes on regardless of their prevalence and character. Back in the 1950’s the government basically shut down EC Comics, burned and banned “satan’s rock music”, and today right wing crusaders like Jack Thompson want to get rid of videogames. As much as the world turns, some things remain the same. While some well-funded psychologists may “theorize” about “depersonalization” of death and violence, it’s the same tune sung with to a different beat. There is no difference in the character of the violence in a modern videogame versus movies like “Dead Alive” and “Faces of Death” that boys of my generation watched, or the gruesome underground comics of the 1940’s and 50’s which were peopled with cannibals and other assorted ghouls. Or are you under the impression that illustrated stories about ghouls are “personal” experiences with death?

    I’m sorry that someone pointing out that this is a bogus theory somehow offends you personally. I can’t begin to understand why, perhaps your exposure to too much Oprah and WE channel programming has made you super-girly-sensitive. I know the impact the evil media can have on young women — they just can’t control themselves.

    You may “think” that media has a huge impact on yoofs, I’m asking you to provide some evidence other than anecdote and theory.

    But most importantly, you need to be very careful not to take me, or yourself, too seriously.

  • “I can tell you that no one wrote anything here that involved genetics, this is about cultural-based choices and open for valid criticism. Is that hate to you? Why? Do you think we meant is as hate?”


    Maybe you need to go and re-read some of the previous posts. One doesn’t have to come out and scream “I hate them nigras!!!” to demonstrate their disdain for black people.

    As far as “cultural-based choices” go, most of the commenters here don’t have a clue about the particular culture that they’re referring to.

  • Darkside: It may actaully be hillbilly Scotch/Irish like myself that are to blame for all the “violence ‘nherent ‘n tha system”:

    I think this might be right. And if you disagree, I’ll sock you.

  • I emailed the Knightpulse folks and am waiting to hear back.

    Another thing I’ve been thinking about is community farming.

    Might be a bit oblique, but check out this piece NPR did on a community farm in Michigan and how it’s helping change the community:

    I know that PoP posted something about the 7th Street Farm moving to 3rd street not to far back. The growing season has ended but it will start up again in March I think. They are looking for volunteers.

    Here’s their web site:

  • At the risk of reigniting the flame wars (racial and otherwise) on this, I thought I’d, well, reignite the post.

    Can anyone provide an update on the “Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2008″ that HBD mentions above? How do we track and support this, which does include a mandatory minimum for gun possession? While not the ideal holistic solution, does anyone think this will help? I think it would, assuming its actually enforced.

    Also, perhaps Odentex can answer this, but how do we track someone from arrest to trial to confinement (if applicable?). It seems that our laws, rightly, make it difficult to really follow someone once they have been arrested. Anyone have any tips how to do this, so we can track that rumored revolving door on the DC jail, whereby arrested criminals are let out almost instantly?

    I hereby drop my advocacy of revolt and revolution, and engaging private security firms to protect us. I still think its valid, but in the interest of cooperation I’ll set it aside. Ideally, the folks advocating sterilization and offshore prison colonies will likewise set aside those ideas for the time being.

  • And one more post in hopes of getting folks back into this one…

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