Odentex Follows Up On Recent Violence (Christopher Shares ANC Notes)


Meeting Report:

The meeting was well attended, an overflow actually, and I think the overall impression I have is that MPD is really doing the best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt. The vast majority of the meeting was discussion by MPD about the ongoing investigations. Interesting, and I’m glad their on the case, but to me that’s hardly the point.

It was asked of Lanier if she needed more resources, she said “no”, and proclaimed that MPD is patrolling the alleys and hotspots, we just aren’t seeing them. But I wonder how she would answer if you asked her privately rather than in front of Councilwoman Bowser.

Bowser didn’t have much to say, and cut the questioning short in deference to the ANC needing to cover other business. I think Bowser needs to make herself available at a meeting where the only topic will be public safety and getting guns off the street. This forum was not really conducive to getting any answers or asking any questions because of the SRO crowd and the lack of time. Maybe that’s what they want. Personally I would like to see Bowser and Fenty attend a meeting solely on the topic of what the city is going to do different (i.e. are they going to treat gun crime seriously or not?).

There was a some patronizing talk about how the people in the neighborhood need to be more involved and, from Lanier, a whole ridiculous spiel about how we need to take time to go down to every sentencing at superior court to make sure the judges do the right thing. Really? That’s the answer? If only we’d go to a few sentencing hearings that’d somehow convince young men that carrying guns is a bad idea?

That’s not the problem. The city council can make sure the judges do the right thing with one stroke of their pen. They, and they alone, can assure some minimum floor punishment for repeat dangerous offenders who keep getting caught with guns. If the city council would stand up for the citizens of this city instead of continuing to cow-tow to a small minority of radicals that think any punishment for crime is a form of racism, if the city would implement serious mandatory minimum penalties for repeat offenders, then we might get somewhere. Continues after the jump.

You know the old saying, even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day? As much as Marion Berry is the butt of a lot of jokes in this town, he was right about one thing when he said back in ’05 that if the city was truly serious about putting an end to the killing here they would make any gun possession punishable by a mandatory 10 years. He’s right. 10 years for any possession is extreme, but he’s 100% right. Mandatory minimums are unpopular now, and in some cases for good reason. And while I personally agree that the federal mandatory minimums for crack cocaine trafficking are too severe compared to other punishments, one thing cannot be overlooked: the staggering drop in crack trafficking after their implementation.

Overall I appreciated what Lanier had to say, she’s clearly on top of things as much as can be, but the police are clearly hampered in this city by the revolving door downtown that puts dangerous offenders back on the streets with little or no consequences.

A senior police officer was standing near me, I won’t identify him/her because, clearly from Lanier and the Commander’s comments the MPD’s official position is not to run down the ineffective leadership of the council and mayor, but he/she told me that just last week his officers had picked up the same half-dozen characters in 4D, some of whom have pending MURDER cases against them, wandering around our streets with guns.

This is insanity.

One of the ANC commissioners also echoed the line that it’s the neighbor’s fault this is all happening. A woman who lives on Buchanan Street was commenting on the various nefarious activities that happen behind her house, and how she can’t even let her two little girls out to play, and the ANC commissioner (sorry, didn’t get his name – he sat on the far left corner of the front) said “do you know who your ANC is?” I mean, really? It’s her fault? She’s come to a meeting after work to ask important questions, dragging along her two small children, and this is his answer? This fellow also suggested later that the real problem wasn’t people running around with guns with no fear of any consequences, no, the real problem is there aren’t enough “job programs” for these offenders. Yep. I’m sure that all three of the shooters from last week just go to bed a-cryin’ every night “if I only had a job.” If someone knows this fellow’s name (Joe Martin, you know who I’m talking about – please tell us) I think the people who live in his area of the ANC should know that he seems to think they are part of the problem since they (like me) don’t know who he is. There may be a good reason no one knows who he is.

Bottom line, there need to be another meeting that isn’t rushed and isn’t focused on the why’s and how’s of the investigations into these particular crimes from last week. While it’s important for MPD to investigate crimes what we REALLY NEED is to focus on stopping future crimes by making the price too high for gun offenders and (as always) a few non-invisible patrols by MPD might help.

We need Fenty and Bowser to address what they plan to do moving forward about gun crime in this city. Do they plan to make gun crime a serious priority or do they plan to continue to allow people to die? It’s pretty simple.

Christopher took notes as well:
The meeting opened with Commander Linda Brown ([email protected]) talking about the procedures and goals of area officers. She fielded questions and released as much information as she could without compromising any planned actions, and urged citizens to report any and everything to the officer in charge of their street. That information (along with all POCs) should be up on the website today, as promised by Chief Cathy Lanier, so that residents can build a relationship with their blocks officer, and not have to call 911.

Chief Lanier ([email protected]) showed up a bit later and took over the question and answer session, also doing her best to answer everything as in detail as possible. Yesterday’s discussion on the root of the gun problem was weighing heavily on my mind, so I took the opportunity to ask her directly what we could do to get the departments hands untied, and to ensure that the criminals and thugs that they picked up would be dealt with, and not just released by soft judges. Chief Lanier advised the start of a community based court watch to monitor the progress of offenders as they move through the system, and gave the POC Cliff Keenan (202.220.5500, pretrial services agency) as someone who has seen success with this initiative. With this, you could see where the ball is dropped, and who dropped it.

The DC gov. website is a wealth of knowledge…I feel twice as informed just in the 20 minutes I’ve spent looking through this morning. I encourage everyone to get on and look around, shoot some emails, and make your voice heard. It was very frustrating last night to hear some of the comments and complaints towards the Police, especially when it seems like the real failure happens somewhere beyond the initial arrest. Familiarize yourself with the judges and committee members, and let them know how you feel about their actions!

From here we got into the actual agenda of the meeting, which I will try to summarize and quickly work through.

First, the median/church parking resolution was voted on and passed. The community will get its median and the church will still have its parking. Thanks to Anna Chamberlain and DDOT for getting this taken care of.

Next was a status of the compromises between Kendejah Restaurant and the surround community. Kendejah has elected to close at 1am during the week (except nights before government holidays) and to stop serving alcohol at 12 in order to have longer hours on the weekends/gov. holidays with alcohol being served until 3am, doors closing at 4am.

Carter Barron East Neighborhood Association spoke on zoning issues pertaining to 16th St NW. They want a requirement for new institutions to meet and discuss with the community, to have a level of transparency, before moving into the community. One of the issues at hand is the BZA application for the Academy for Ideal Education, located at 1501 Gallatin Street, which would like to expand and increase its student body.

The friends of 16th Street Parks have scheduled a bulletin board build for this weekend (11/22, 9AM) at the park in the 1300 block of Hamilton. Volunteers are needed, and you can contact Sean Wieland at smwieland (at) yahoo (dot) com for more information.

A couple of speed humps, handicapped spaces, and a deck were also discussed, but as the clock ticked away, the room got restless and I stopped taking notes. One point I found interesting though was how easy it seems to get a speed hump on your street. DDOT requires 70% support from your block and a pass from the ANC.

It’s always nice to see new faces and a level of interest at these meetings, but it is also extremely frustrating to see the lack of organization. I think I blacked out somewhere around the third hour and I swear I woke up back in high school during an argument on parliamentary procedure in a student government meeting. Yes, our commissioners are unpaid volunteers, and I have a very deep respect for them (as I think we all do), but the amount of back and forth coupled with the disorder on the floor was a bit disheartening. Also, is that really the biggest and most accommodating room in Petworth?

25 Comment

  • The Commissioner who asked the woman if she knew who her ANC was was Shanel Anthony.

  • According to notes from the meeting last night:

    “Chief Lanier made it clear that nearly every violent crime in this
    city has illegal drugs associated with it in some way.”

    That kinda debunks what Odentex was saying y’day. She also said that they seized 3000 guns. I bet the bulk of the gun holders were robbers, dope boyz, or a combo of the two.

  • Note the other long discussion on this meeting:


  • i have to agree on the need for mandatory minimums on gun crimes.

    drugs are an addiction. there is a physical problem in the brain that requires professional attention. most people understand that, i believe. not so with guns. i don’t care what some NRA-types might say, there is no addiction that makes you need to pick up a gun and carry it around, using it to inflict harm on others. that’s why, where i’m not a big fan of mandatory minimums on drug infractions (though i can understand and appreciate the rationale of people who are in favor of them), i believe that they are totally appropriate for gun-related crimes.

    barry is right here. strict, harsh, mandatory minimums for gun crimes are something all us citizens should be insisting on from our leaders. once the word is out, maybe the more sane among the criminal set will think twice about what they’re doing.

  • IMGoph: have you ever held a gun? Man, its pretty sweet, a huge rush of inflated self esteem. Easy to get addicted to…. 😉

    “Barry is right…”. Literally the first time I have ever read such words.

  • Can I get some more information on how tofind out who is my “block officer”? Is that just the Lt. for my PSA, or is there a lower level breakdown of ownership / responsibility?

  • I’m ok with mandatory minimums on gun crimes. However, if there is going to be a mandatory penalty for using a firearm incorrectly there should be an incentive to use one correctly. The district should offer gun/hunter use & safety classes to local gun owners looking to educate themselves. Sucessful completion of the course would result in further registration of the firearm and its owner as well as a onceal and carry permit allowing the holder to travel with the firearm on their person. Revenues from the class could be used for various public projects, and education and registration of responsible gun owners is a positive step toward logical and comprehensive gun control.

  • there was another community meeting just on the violence issue the day prior. last night, was a second shorter version of the night before. people could have attended that one too as violence was the only issue being discussed.

    i disagree with your perceived view of Mr. Anthony, what he was trying to say is that residents need to reach out and know their ANCs, becuse they are the ground level representatives of the community and interface with the city government on a regular basis. they have more clout that one person alone because they represent 2,000 people. I am always surprised and disheartened when I am talking to someone about the ANC or an ANC commissioner and people are like “what’s an ANC?” i mean. come on, learn about your city and how your government works. that’s the best way to make change happen.

  • IMGOPH wrote:
    “there is a physical problem in the brain that requires professional attention.”

    I know a lot of people that do or have smoked weed that do not need any professional attention. Barack Obama. Bill Clinton. And just to cover my bases–George W. Bush.

    IMGOPH wrote:
    “i don’t care what some NRA-types might say, there is no addiction that makes you need to pick up a gun and carry it around, using it to inflict harm on others. ”

    The users of the drugs typically are not the ones killing people. It is the drug dealers. And the robbers. It’s like cowboys and robbers out there. You ever watch the Wire? I know it was a TV show. But there are a lot of Omar’s out here.

  • Nate: Lanier got there late, and Commander Brown was *very clear* early on that not all of the recent shootings had to do with drugs. In fact, Commander Brown went on quite a bit about how shootings were over lots of things, including “beefs” and “very often girls.” She specifically stated that they believed two of the shootings were related and “not about drugs.” The question was asked by someone: “are these recent shootings about drugs?” and Commander Brown said, unequivocally, “no”. Second, I don’t recall Lanier making the statement regarding “drugs” that is attributed to her in the other account on the MPD 4D listserv. She may have, but it was in passing and not in answer to a question, but either way it’s directly opposite of what the 4D Commander has said.

    In fact there are a few, let me put this delicately, “mistakes” in the 4d Listserv version of this meeting. For one, it suggests the Bowser said things she patently did not say (at least not to the group) and also mentions Phil Mendelson making statements when he didn’t even speak to the group or answer any questions (I didn’t know he was even there until today). So, without making too fine a point of it, the account on the listserv is, er, not accurate as to the public meeting. I’m sure it reflects exactly what the council members want to be said about it, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. When “anonymous” calls this version of the facts “much sunnier,” I think they are being gracious. If I somehow missed Bowser and Mendelson holding forth on the street afterward with all the happy-talk listed on the ANC listserv version, please somebody tell me, because that shit didn’t happen at the public meeting.

    Anonymous: “what Anthony was trying to say” and the way it came out — like a condescending slap in the woman’s face for daring to ask questions about crime in her back yard (literally), are possibly two different things. Perhaps he’s a swell fellow and a really great force in his community, but the two times he spoke up last night, once to basically insult a woman who was asking real questions about real issues, and the second time to parrot a worn and tired notion that’s sell-by date was well before three more young men got shot on the streets last week, was not a good showing on his behalf.

    Sure it’d be grand if we all knew who are ANC is (I know mine, do I get a prize?), but after that performance last night who in the hell would want to know Shanel Anthony?

  • Nate: I though W was a cokehead and boozer? I can’t really picture him listening to Bob Marley and eating pizza. Clinton and pizza? ‘Natch.

  • And one more thing Anonymous, the lady with two small girls who was asking about the chaos she sees out her back window, she didn’t stand for election to the ANC, Mr. Anthony did. She has a right to ask questions and get answers from him, not the other way around.

  • Odentex,
    Obama did a little coke himself. Still, neither seemingly need professional attention.

    As for the killings, i’ll grant you that all of them are not drug related. Plenty of killings over other stupid sh!t. But there have been at least 10 people killed in a certain part of SE that I am very familiar with. Everyone of them has been about drugs.

    About a month ago, I had to go and clean up the blood of a 51 y/o man that was shot and ran into my apartment building before dying. He was killed by young boys. I mean really young boys. DC MPD didn’t characterize it as a drug related homicide as there were no drugs found and of course no witnesses. But everyone in the neighborhood will tell you that he stole the young boy’s stash. There are countless murders like this….

    If Lanier are Brown were reticent to acknowledge this, then it is likely due to the fact that that would acknowledge that they are essentially powerless to do anything about it. DC MPD has never caught a big time drug dealer (I’m talking hundreds of kilos and not 50g of bullsh!t crack). As bad as Rayful Edmonds was, even he is out of prison.

    DC’s biggest drugs crews (M St., etc) have all been brought down due to murders. Drugs and violence go hand in hand. If you don’t believe it, try and sell some drugs on 3rd & Delafield to test my theory out. You want this madness to stop? Do something about the drugs. Otherwise this exercise in b!tching and moaning to the chief is pointless…

  • Nate: As you point out, the authorities rarely ever catch the Tony Montana and his “little friend”. The facts from the sentencing commission show that the people they do catch, the street dealers and safehouses, only have guns 17% of the time. I have never said that guns aren’t at all involved in the drug trade, or that it isn’t a violent and dirty business that can lead to gunplay, what I’ve said is concentrating on the drug trade is a mistake. If you’d been at the meeting and heard what MPD has to go through to make a dope case you’d have to agree it’s a waste of time.

    Ultimately I don’t know how many times I can type the word “fact” and have you tell me an anecdote about an individual drug case before you start to see that what we all have believed to be conventional wisdom about the drug trade (me included) just isn’t so. It’s not so surprising when you think about it, even though getting a gun may be a lot easier than we’d like it to be, it ain’t easier than getting a pasel of drugs and selling those drugs. I asked you before, do you think there is no drug dealing in Europe?

    Guns aren’t a prerequisite to sell drugs, drugs are.

    People carrying guns are the immediate problem. Once we solve that, and have world peace, maybe we can shut down the drug trade.

  • “Guns aren’t a prerequisite to sell drugs, drugs are. ”
    True. or FACT if you prefer. Guns are not a prerequisite. But try selling without one. And then you will see that they may not be a prerequisite, but a REQUISITE.

    I invite you to come to Delafield, or anywhere for that matter, and set up shop without the implied presence of protection.

    Again, I stress to you that even though someone is busted for drugs and does not have a gun on him does not mean he does not have a gun. He may have hid it and the police didn’t find it. He may have tossed it while running from the police. A gun may have been recovered but could not be tied to him. Maybe his boy took the rap for the gun and he took the drug rap.

    Think back to the Deonte Rawlings case. Shotspotter indicated a gun was shot coming from where the young boy was found shot to death. Yet, no gun was found. Speculation is that people stole it during the chaos.

    I am from AL. I have brought GUNS back to DC on the PLANE. I can go to AL and purchase a gun within 30 minutes. I bet the same applies for VA and NC. So trying to stop the flow of guns is pointless when the laws in surrounding areas are not as strict as DC.

    On the streets, a drug dealer is a sitting duck. If you have ever been out on the street, you can watch his customers come and go. You can literally count how much money he is making from afar. Any drug dealer who values his life had better have a gun and be ready to use it. The robbers in the street know this. So they come strapped too. Or they follow him home and catch him off guard. Just as there are lazy people that sell drugs, there are equally lazy people that choose to rob drug dealers.

    As for Europe, I was just there earlier this year. Knives seemed to be the weapon of choice in London. That has to do with the availability of guns in London. In the US, guns flow freely. That will never change. So you might as well stop harping on that.

    Guns are a part of America’s fabric. Maybe not so much in Europe..

  • Odentex,
    My premise is that none of this goes away until we take a different approach to the drug war. That may never happen. I concede that. Until then, we will have b!tch sessions to our councilman and the chief while nothing changes.

  • Drugs or no drugs, it should be darn easy for the Chief of Police to answer a question such as “Why do I never see uniformed officers walking a beat?” or “Why, in a city that considers driving and dialing to be a crime, do I frequently see officers driving while talking on personal cellular phones, ignoring their surroundings?”

    She does not give a damn about the community. She is dishonest and does not speak proper English. The same goes for Ms. Bowser. It is absolutely shameful to have officials who speak in slang, saying a violent crime wave is caused by “beefs.”

    It is also shameful that PoP seems to be the best source of this news. The Washington Post has yet to produce one word about any recent spike in gun crime around here. No one seems willing to hold these inept, under-educated, dishonest municipal officials accountable.

  • CP: I feel you, but while more patrols would be nice, it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that the real problem isn’t in Petworth, it’s at Judiciary Square. The gun laws in DC are a joke (as are many other laws, but we have to start somewhere), and the people we need to pressure are the council members.

    The more I think about last night and their use of Lanier as a stalking horse to blame the judges, the more I think that Bowser, Mendelson, and the others are starting to worry people are going to get wise as to their failure on this one very specific issue. Mendelson especially seems to have a lot to answer for. He, no doubt, has reasons why he thinks the current punishment for repeat gun offenders is okay, and perhaps his reasoning is influenced by the fact that he drives his car up Wisconsin to his home in Upper Caucasia every night instead of walking up Georgia Ave, but whatever his reasoning he’s not sharing it, the preference seems to be to blame the judges for implementing the laws the council has passed.

    Nate: I give up. I bow to your knowledge of street dealing — tell me, when you stopped dealing did you keep the “requisite” gun or throw it in some magical bushes where the cops couldn’t find it? Also, isn’t it a bit strange that drug dealers manage to get rid of that pesky gun before the heat comes down but always keep a-hold of the dope? “Foiled again!” As far as Donte goes, a cynical person might suggest there wasn’t a gun, just a pissed off cop.

  • The chief could cue a recording and not even have to show up at these meetings. It has been the same thing for the last 20 years.

  • 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.

  • A little over a year ago in Bloomingdale, we had a shooting that wounded two long term residents out walking their dogs. We had what sound like very similar meetings with Chief Lanier and other city officials. They installed a police camera at the location of the shooting, we did the speed bump thing (which I am very happy about), and we also started a system of organizing block-by-block. It really seemed like we got some things done (more police presence, nuisance properties addressed, walk throughs with Mayor Fenty) when we had someone who had taken a leadership role (a neighbor who was not an ANC, but we did involve the ANCs).

  • I am all for minimum mandatory sentences for gun possession, but doesn’t this mean we have to be ready to foot the bill for an uptick in prison beds, court/legal administration, etc.?

  • Christopher, thanks for your extensive note-taking.

    Both in my capacity on the ANC and from within the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services, I will do my best to address the issues at hand in every possible way.

    Councilmember Muriel Bowser asked for the time for her and the Chief, and the ANC appreciated the importance of accomodating in any possible way. As a writer noted, there was a large, public meeting the night before set up at MPD-4D.

    See and consider joining the MPD-4D Yahoo Group for more about that: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MPD-4D

    My apologies for the limited size and other aspects of the community room at 801 Shepherd. We do need to find larger space for meetings that would not ordinarily have a 9:00 pm time limit. Feel free to offer suggestions. More about that another time.

    Joe Martin
    Mayor’s Office of Community Relations & Services / ANC 4C Chair /
    SMD 4C09 Commissioner
    202-442-9509 desk
    202-340-7853 mobile
    [email protected]

  • “Ah! So sorry, but you missed the OTHER meeting.”

    Give. Me. A. Break.

    Joe: I am a member of the MPD list-serv. As noted above the summary available on the list serve was, to say the least, incorrect. When I submitted a post to discuss those discrepancies that post mysteriously never was listed. The list-serv is an MPD mechanism and not a public forum. Which is fine, it’s their list, but just don’t act like it’s where any real discussion of these issues happens. It isn’t.

    Someone mentioned last week that it was sad that the only place where dissenting views of these issues get aired is on PoP, but it is the height of foolishness for DC elected officials (including yourself) to continue to assume a lot of revisionist happy talk about this topic is going to work.

    Is there anything in my recollection of the meeting that is inaccurate? If so, I’d like you or someone else to point it out. I’ve noticed nobody has bothered to do that (other than Nate, who wasn’t at the meeting, and was mistaken), and instead their is an active campaign on the list-serv, and now here by you, to ignore these issues.

    The salient fact to take away from that meeting is that neither Bowser nor Mendelson were interested in talking about solutions that involved their taking any responsibility. There was no talk about consequences for these crimes, and no talk about how to stop more young men from being shot down on our streets. Instead they had poor Chief Lanier out there claiming it’s all the judge’s fault. Totally pathetic.

    Yeah. It’s all the judge’s fault for enforcing the DC laws as written by the council. Bowser and Mendelson can keep on this tack if they want, but is only going to end in tears (for them), people are tired of council wringing their hands while, at least in the case of Mendelson, they do everything to sabotage reforms that would teeth into the DC code.

    So keep playing interference for the council if you want Joe, it only undermines your reputation as a local leader.

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