Can We Prioritize Our Outrage?

IMG_3468, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Tonight was the hardest night I’ve ever had putting up posts for the blog. Earlier today I received an email from someone who’s girlfriend was assaulted and robbed earlier this week in Shaw. The reader wrote in order to warn folks particularly women to be vigilant and extra cautious. The email literally brought tears to my eyes. For those that know me personally, I am not one to cry easily. In addition to this horrific incident I received 8 other emails in a 24 hour period related to other crimes and quality of life issues (from all over the city). I don’t intend to post every crime that is related to me but I do think we as a community need to be outraged.

You see I was reading about the outrage of the proposed Tivoli North banners and I’m thinking we really need to rally as a community to fight against the unacceptable level of crime we’ve been seeing. This is not simply, we live in a city and crime exists, suck it up situation. And I’m not saying that other issues aren’t important. But if people can be rallied and outraged over a banner that would go up on one street, ostensibly, to help local businesses, I’d like to think people can get equally if not more outraged over the horrendous crimes we’ve been hearing about.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can rally as a group and put some pressure on our Councilmembers.  I honestly feel that it is important to see more police walking and/or biking the streets.  Remember “community policing”?  What happened to that?  We have power in numbers and there a lot of us in PoPville.  So what should do?

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  • did you see this from Mari at the blog?

    I am surprised that there is no mentioned in your report of the assault on Sunday of Jennifer Ragins of ### Bates Street. She was one of the instrumental people that started Bates Street Civic Association. She was attacked by a wantobe thug. This thug blind sided her with punches.
    She was taken to the hospital. This thug lives at ### P Street NW.

    This is a house that has been raided by the police several times. This 15- year-old thud attacked a person twice his age. He is twice her size and weights twice as much. What African American parent raise a child to seek and attach a grown woman. I cannot say an alleged attack because there are witnesses that saw it and also heard him brag about it.
    It was not a robbery because he took nothing. This was a set-up by the drug boys to silence someone who has been instrumental in improving this neighborhood. The 20 years plus I have live here, I have been a mentor and tutored to many young folks. However, there are those that are not reachable and need to be dealt with accordingly. This is one. I hear that a warrant has been issue but he has not been arrested. Where can a 15-year-old go to avoid arrest unless he has criminal help.
    Jennifer needs your prayers and support. I hope that as this crime was occurring, those folks who were aware of it assisted in helping her as I did when a white woman on my street was attached. I did not bother about the color, I placed my self in harms way and I think if I had not she would have received more harm as in the case of Jennifer.

    We can not just look out for our clicks or have our private groups. You cannot have an e-mail system or group that only glorify your click. For this community to address these types of criminal elements, all of us need to take a stand.



  • This is a start PoP. Speak out. We’ve got to overcome this culture that says crime – any crime – is acceptable or excusable or justifiable. It’s not. It’s never ok. Not in small-town Missouri or downtown Washington. All of us have to speak up. Me too.

  • I don’t believe in city-wide anti-crime measures. The problem is too deep and too rooted in family life and socio-economics (as we’ve discussed on here many times). Better policing would help, but the police can’t be everywhere.

    I’d like to see Jim Graham lead an effort to (i) eliminate 90% of the public housing in Columbia Heights (not workforce housing – I mean the bottom tier), and (ii) start a program with DC Counsel and DCHA to start holding private landlords accountable for endemic crime in large apartment blocks. There is no reason why the corridor running from Shaw through Columbia Heights should be the dumping ground for every disfunctional family in NW. Nor do we need to provide Section 8 housing in what could be the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city. Jim Graham needs to think about who is voting block is, and their desires for these neighborhoods.

  • great column on this broader subject of violence in the US in the NYT this morning

    while i don’t want to sound too down on this, i have to say that grass roots and all this are fine. but in the end it is about gun control and even more importantly about families and the way people raise their kids … i guess i agree with Bloomingdale here.

  • This problem runs much deeper than simply organizing to put pressure on elected officials and police, although it could help short term.

    Until we, together, all of us, take responsibility for the children of this city when their parents fail to do the job, crime will be a huge problem. It will take a cultural shift where everyone takes ownership of the problem and responsibility for making sure as many of the 5-6 year olds that are vulnerable don’t end up being the 12-40 year olds committing violent crimes.

    Know your neighbors. Well. Know their kids. Well. Help teach them and mentor them. Well. Cops can’t do that, council members can’t do that. Parents should, but aren’t or can’t do that, teachers can only do so much.

    So yeah, organize for community policing and government involvement in the short term, absolutely, but if we really want to make a dent in the problem, we need to take it to heart and mind that it truly does take a village to raise a child.


  • Jim Graham is a lame duck, he could care less about voting blocks.

  • Violent crime and cities go hand in hand, PoP, and always will until the socioeconomic chasm that separates the rich from the poor narrows. (If you think Petworth and Shaw and C.H. are dangerous now, imagine what they were like pre-gentrification.) The good news is that anyone can minimize his or her chance of being a victim, simply by not walking alone at night, ever. I know that can be a drag but, then again, so is living in the (relatively safe) suburbs.

  • The problem is deep-seated, systemic, and cultural. This will take decades to “fix”. In the short term, all that can happen is pushing the problem elsewhere (including jail).

  • POP,

    Can you think about adding a separate and highly visible section on your site for crime-prevention related links? Like phone numbers to call when we see something go down, emails of people to get more help in the hood, etc…?

    Your site could become a good nexus of anti-crime resources and outrage


  • inchoate rage is my usual response. not healthy. i’d love to hear more constructive responses. and while longterm socio-economic solutions are probably necessary, i would love to know if there is anything i can DO. rather than sputtering about on blogs.

  • I have been thinking a lot about this since I listened to the This American Life segment on the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone. It was pretty fascinating. He basically subcribes to the idea that the parents of low income kids for the most part are a lost cause. However, we as a society have determined that throwing more money at them will help their children get out of poverty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.

    A child of a low income family hears 20,000 less words in the first year of their life than a child of middle to upper income families. He believes that the first year of life is the most crucial in determining whether a child will descend out of poverty.

    While this doesn’t do anything for the immediate problems I do think it is a long term solution…. reach the kids when they are very young. Harlem Children’s Zone begins with parenting classes and sees the kid all the way through to (I believe) the 8th grade.

  • Hoodrat- I’d say volunteering to tutor/mentor lower income students would be a great first step.

  • Well, I posted a decent overview (IMHO) on the recent Julia’s post. To sum: a concerted effort to unseat Mendelson in particular, plus Bowser in my opinion, and whoever has the seat for your ward in particular. Basically, crime is not viewed as a problem across the board in the council, and I at least get the continual brush off on the issue. So, mobilize against these CM’s, and mobilize behind anyone with a tough on crime platform. We can either get these do-nothing CMs off the council, or scare them enough with the issue to cause them to see the issue as a priority. Be loud and angry and such and impose a change on the council, I am convinced the problem lies there. Laws are lax and offenders are repeatedly released. I do feel MPD does their job with the resources they are given, though I am sure there is waste and corruption. Regardless, no police force in the world is really equipped to arrest the same people over and over again for violent crimes.

    And PoP, I’m still working on that map thing 😉

  • re 2b3s
    large cities and crime go hand in hand is just a lame excuse. DC has a population of 700,000. NY has a more than 6 million but a much lower crime rate.

    I grew up in Cologne, Germany which has a population of one million, there were and still are no reasons to be afraid when walking around the city (day or night), the same was/is true in Amsterdam (which has about the same population as DC) and when i was in Berlin last year with about 3 million people there were no reasons to feel afraid, crime there is some pick pocketing, but across the year a handful of murders. crime can be dealt with, large city or small city. you just need to have the right laws and the will of the people.

  • I agree with those who talk about volunteering, about keeping neighborhoods clean and making sure kids have support and role models and things to do.

    But also, one simple thing: call the cops, or 311, every time you see something wrong. EVERY time. Someone taking a dump on the street? someone passed out on the sidewalk? someone threw a rock at you/keyed your neighbor’s car/is screaming threats at people getting off the metro? Get the best description you can, take out your phone (going someplace safe if necessary, but close as possible) and call. And wait around to give a report.

    Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s time-consuming (but isn’t fixing your damaged property or having to go to the ER even more so?) and there could be retaliation and maybe the cops will never show. But if 1% of the time it leads to the cops actually finding who did it, it’s a start. Also, the police will probably get so sick of hearing from people that they’ll put more cops in the area.

  • Carsten: I don’t understand your post about how is this about gun control. DC has had and continues to have (supreme court be damned) the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Blaming DC’s problems on gun control is just a straw man that distracts us from confronting the real and more difficult issues about personal responsibility and parental control.

    Thugs are thugs, and lawlessness is lawlessness whether there is access to firearms or not. The DC rock throwers, face punchers, purse snatchers, car thieves, burglars, drug dealers, drug addicts and all around law breakers won’t just disappear if we remove every gun from the street. Go to East London and ask the thugs there how the U.K.’s much lauded gun ban has worked out, they’ll probbaly slit your throat just for asking. there is a much larger behavioral issue at work here that goes well beyond access to firearms.

  • I agree with Pennywise: Mendelson must go, and I’m willing to help run a campaign to do so. We need a zero tolerance candidate to run, even if only to send a message.

  • My gf was telling me that a fellow law school grad (black guy) of hers was attacked by two young black males last Friday. They repeatedly hit him. When he decides to fight back, guess what? MPD just happened to be driving by at that moment and saw him as the aggressor and took him to jail. Slammed him on the pavement like a criminal. Charged him with assault as well as assault on a police officer. I remind you that this guy is a lawyer. He stayed in jail all weekend.

    You might think that this could all be cleared up easily right? The two young black males could vouch for him, right? Well they ran off and now it is this guy’s word versus the cops. Guess who wins 9/10 of those battles?

  • Again, the District really needs to change its juvenile violent crimes law and implementation of it by prosecuters. If the young punk thugs knew they’d be held accountable maybe just maybe they’d change their behavior. As it stands now, they know full well they can do *&^% like this and walk away scot free. It ain’t gonna change much unless this fatal flaw in the DC code is amended.

    Again, it’s not legal to post specific detailed information about youth offenders and their crimes on a public site, but it’s likely legal for a community action organization to start collecting intelligence on who these thugs are, where they live, and what crimes they’ve been up to. More scary though may be finding out information about the adults directing these gangs of thugs. Not sure it’s a battle I’d like to risk my life on. Probably makes more sense to leave the city for someplace that has its youth violence under control. It’s certainly out of control here!

    Someone in the press should start asking the police for more data on these types of young punk thug beatings, they aren’t as isolated as they may appear!

    Sorry to hear it’s happened again. Hopefully Jennifer and her family heal fast and forgive.

  • I have a feeling it’s going to be a very long, violent Summer

  • Carsten: Cities and violent crime going hand in hand is not an excuse, it’s a fact. If you think NYC is safer than DC, you haven’t spent much time in the boroughs. That said, it’s not the size of the city that correlates with crime, it’s the poverty rate.

  • Move the projects and you solve the problem.

  • I tutor at an organization that serves kids in a housing project in SE. I know by doing so I’m not making a huge difference, but I like being involved in my greater community and these kids’ lives. It’s a small step that I bet every PoP reader can take, just one night a week for about 2 hours is all I commit, and I imagine nearly everyone of you could do the same. Maybe this is overly optimistic, but if I do it it’s a small difference, if thousands of DC residents do it, there’s a possibility to make a bigger difference.

    The organization I tutor at is – but there are similar organizations through out the city. Get involved.

  • Pennywise, Columbia Heights Dude: A zero-tolerance candidate is at least a path to a viable solution. I as well am willing to work on a campaign for a candidate that will at least say the things that invested councilmembers will not. Feel free to contact me, I would very much like to get the ball rolling, as we need to get a candidate filed for the primary by July 2010.

  • Bloomingdale Says:

    April 9th, 2009 at 8:51 am
    I don’t believe in city-wide anti-crime measures. The problem is too deep and too rooted in family life and socio-economics (as we’ve discussed on here many times). Better policing would help, but the police can’t be everywhere.

    I’d like to see Jim Graham lead an effort to (i) eliminate 90% of the public housing in Columbia Heights (not workforce housing – I mean the bottom tier), and (ii) start a program with DC Counsel and DCHA to start holding private landlords accountable for endemic crime in large apartment blocks. There is no reason why the corridor running from Shaw through Columbia Heights should be the dumping ground for every disfunctional family in NW.

    It’s always the landlords fault huh? Let me tell you what happens from a landlord perspective. Most of the tenants are women. The legal tenants anyway. Well as a landlord, I can not dictate her company. If she takes up with a petty drug dealer, who seeks her apartment more than a relationship with her and her kids, how is that the landlords fault? If she lets him begin to sell drugs from the apt/house, how is that the landlord’s fault? Once she is in the unit, she has damn near more rights than I do to the place.

    DCHA screens all its applicants for criminal history. Landlords screen for suitability. But how do you screen for this woman’s dating habits, without breaking some housing laws? I use unconventional methods of screening. How she is addressed? How desperate is she? For instance, if a woman comes to see the apt with a young man in a Crown Victoria or any other “dope boy” car, I am immediately suspicious. I doubt that it is legal. And even that isn’t foolproof. There are human and gov’t failings in so many areas that it is almost unfair to attack DCHA, DC gov’t, and MPD alone.

    Here is another loophole. The woman I mentioned may be allowing her boyfriend to sell drugs from her apt. If the police catch her bf in her unit, she should be kicked off the program. But who from MPD is in charge of tracking all the Sec8 voucherholders and cross referencing them against the police blotter? Noone I am sure. More to the point, the people at DCHA are very sympathetic to the tenants. They may just give her a warning.

    Now if he is caught in front of the building, her name doesn’t even come up. He’s busted and she takes up with another drug dealer and the cycle continues. This war can not be won.

    And a more likely issue is that the tenants (again all women) are afraid of the dope boys. As there are no fathers around, the young boys become the rule of law. So they may start selling drugs in your hallway. The women are either too afraid or so damn apathetic they never tell you.

    This is why I have always said that mixed income can not work. The poor are not going to hold up their end of the bargain and the people with means will move.

  • If you think DC has strict gun control laws you need to get out more. Buy a plane ticket or a bus ticket or a train ticket. To ANYWHERE.

    Police aren’t doing a thing. they are lazy and careless. i’ve seen it myself. if you report something they just roll their eyes. if you call 911 it takes 30 minutes for them to travel 1 block to the scene. and when they arrive they aren’t interested in finding out what happened. they arrest whoever is the easiest to arrest so they can go back to sitting on their arses. and all the thugs in CH know this.

    Community involvement isn’t going to do a thing. Thugs will be more than happy to take your charity and throw it back in your face the minute you think you’ve made progress.

    And as for never walking home alone, I’d sure as hell like to know how I’m supposed to do that. I moved here a year ago and know virtually no one in this town, certainly not anyone that lives close enough to me to walk home with. As someone said yesterday, I just can’t wait until my lease is up so I can get out of this shitty neighborhood. I’m more than happy to leave this part of town to the thugs. Let them beat up and kill each other.

  • saf

    I can’t remain outraged forever. I just can’t. The burnout would be amazing.

    So I have come to an accommodation. I work for good. I call the cops on wrong. I donate to good causes that I believe are part of the solution. I pray for my city. I build relationships with my neighborhood. I do all I can to create the best possible society.

    I love my city and my neighborhood, and many of my neighbors. I work to make it into what it can be, what it must become.

    Outrage is unsustainable and does not produce results in the end. But work and caring will take us a long way.

  • PoP – I know you have been thrust into the center of this unwillingly (maybe?), but this forum is needed for us to crystallize our outrage against this and develop good strategies. Thank you for that.

    As for Pennywise’s positive ideas, we will need a forum to band together to show our support for a candidate that is tough on crime.

    The problems are very pervasive, but we need to take action. I don’t know if this should necessarily turn into a “crime blog”, but we need to find some kind of collective voice.

  • Carsten – How do the Turks fair in Berlin? Not so good I’ve heard.

  • I agree – we need to do something about it!
    A friend of mine who lives in Texas called me the other day, and she was like, “I heard DC is one of the most dangerous cities in the US.” Is this a fact?

    Separately, I agree with 2b3s – during these hard economic times, we will continue to see an increase in poverty and therefore, an increase in crime combined with some of the issues Bloomingdale listed above.

    Let’s start a campaign, not only a petition! Let’s get officials involved and lets educate people…

  • Well, with the unemployment out there, how about some of your smartie and ambitious poly sci types make a run? I got $500 in start-up funds 😉

    I would run but interpersonally am an ass. Also, I am more than employed at this point so don’t have the time. I am told this means I am not civic minded, but I don’t know how to be civic minded if it means losing my own job.

    Anyways, I do believe a PAC of some sort is the way to go, given the systemic nature of the problems. I’d even get in bed with the Republicans at this point. (actually I did sleep with a republican once and she was a whore. thank you, thank you, I’m here all week).

  • I used to try calling the cops for “quality of life” issues such as the group of older men smoking weed right on the sidewalk in front of the fenced off park 14th and Girard. They WILL NOT SHOW up unless there is threat of violence. You have to lie and say you think someone has a gun and them maybe, just maybe they will show up. I am sick of people telling me to mentor youth. I work 60 hours a week, my income and property taxes keep the shitty schools going and section 8 vouchers rolling. the ONLY sure fire way to fight poverty is massive and free birth control program. It it NOT acceptable to have children while you live in public housing. I wish we could elect one person with the balls to say that. Vasectomies, tubal ligation, depo provera should be provided free and actively discussed with every tenent in these projects. Section 8 vouchers need a five year limitation. Graham is on the way out. We need to really think about who we can elect who will take this shit seriously. I can’t fucking wait to sell and move the hell out and on up in the world. I have attended so many meetings, ANC, crime and others on top of ABRA hearings etc. I call the management of the section 8 shithole next to me constantly. She deosnt’ give a damn becuae low income housing tax credits have created a windfall for her for the next 16 years. I am becoming more and more of a republican by the minute living in this neighbhorhood.

  • The only real hopeful policy response I see, and the only one I can tolerate without wanting to fly off the deep end, is the continued re-development of Washington D.C., and the continued willingness of people like PoP to live in neighborhoods that once sucked, and to make them better. Working with low-income and at-risk kids may well be a necessary and worthy thing to do, but there’s something fundamentally infuriating to me about having to essentially take responsibility for someone else’s irresponsible “decision” to have kids. It will also never, ever be a sufficient response: at the end of the day, it’s simply human nature to take care of your own and worry about yourself. Broad scale social policy that requires people to essentially invest their time and energy in total strangers, while it may help at the margins, is doomed to fail.

    Instead, I think the only realistic response, and the only one that I think channels our sense of outrage in a productive way, is to do what this blog is all about — to get excited about this city by recognizing its great qualities, to make the city your own, to explore neighborhoods you otherwise would be too afraid or too ignorant about to explore, and to generally just get out there. This, of course, is greatly aided by re-development, which facilitates foot and vehicle traffic and revitalizes neighborhoods. And if enough people do get out there, people like the woman described in this post will hopefully never, or at least rarely, find themselves walking alone on an empty street, vulnerable to attack by some teenage thug who we apparently need to be raising.

  • Does anyone know if there has been a (recent) comprehensive study done that made recommendations about how to reform DC’s Juvenile Justice system? I agree with others that being engaged in the community and its children is important, but I think that improving this city’s ability to deal with violent offenders is equally important.

  • Collective Voice?

    First, there are thirty some comments, maybe we’ll get up to around 100. Many of those are from the same person commenting more than once. Sure you’ve got people who read but don’t comment, but seriously, the readership and participation in this blog is just a drop in the bucket considering how many people actually live and/or work in our neighborhoods. There is hardly a movement here.

    Second, even amongst these thirty some comments you’ve got a wide range of philosophies and suggestions and goals. Some want tough on crime politicians, some want a different policing model as the solution, some want community involvement/mentoring/poverty reducing action, some want to eliminate public housing, some want gun control, some want to just move away, etc. There is hardly a consensus here other than everyone hates violent crime.

    Sorry for being negative, but good luck on any sort of real collective action here.

  • Penny and Sunny Florida Avenue, I can’t run either, but the whole politics thing is my profession. Where should take this chat? emails? Anyone else in on running a zero tolerance candidate?

  • The most helpful, would be an overview of how this crazy DC government “works”….I can’t keep straight who does what or who I need to express outrage to or “vote out”.

  • “Second, even amongst these thirty some comments you’ve got a wide range of philosophies and suggestions and goals. Some want tough on crime politicians, some want a different policing model as the solution, some want community involvement/mentoring/poverty reducing action, some want to eliminate public housing, some want gun control, some want to just move away, etc. There is hardly a consensus here other than everyone hates violent crime.”

    Now announcing my multi-pronged plan for crime in the District.

  • anon 10:38, Colbert King of the WashPost writes frequently on the juvenile justice failings, and likewise the wider failings in oversite of that agency. See:

    for his articles, though not all are related to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Note that DYRS is overseen in the council by Cmte on Human Services, not the Cmte on Public Safety and the Judiciary.

  • Pennywise, I am willing to lay down with the nastiest of political foes if it means an opportunity to clean up our fair city. I as well am fully employed, but with the help of others, could find the time to do some rabble rousing. As stated before, feel free to contact me, I believe PoP has my info.

  • Yesterday, someone made a comment about rich folks “invading” neighborhoods and how it serves us right that we’re the victims of crime.

    I would argue, rather, than artificially concentrating at-risk folks in projects is the problem.

    There are plenty of people who are “natives” of DC who have made it on their own. They got educated, they got jobs, and they do well.

  • Is it just me or do we deal with the highest ratio of tax revenues to violent crime in the city? Right or wrong, the city doesn’t care about tax dollars, they care about votes. They want to create programs to revitalize neighborhoods and raise tax revenue base, but never want to invest the resources for the long term to ensure the success of the projects. i wish i had a lease in CH, but unfortunately I have a mortgage (an underwater mortgage) and I can’t get out until I call the bank and tell them to go ahead and short sale my condo because I’m leaving the keys on the counter – but that’s another rant.

    What can we do to voice our outrage at the lack of juvenile accountability in the justice system? Is that controlled by the courts, the mayor / council, or the feds? I think historically the city voters have been either apathetic, or soley interested in which candidate is going to give them the most public assistance and programs. If we can rally around the next election and force the issues of crime and quality of living to be the successful platform I think it’s a good start. It’s unfortunate that education reform doesn’t even cross my mind right now.

  • The problem, to be frank, is the concentration of large public housing complexes in Columbia Heights. This is obvious. However, I do not ascribe to the philosophy espoused by some here that the solution is to bulldoze them to the ground. The majority of residents in these places are decent, law-abiding folks. It would be unfair to punish all for the crimes of some. But it is also true that the majority of crime in the neighborhood is caused by the youths that either live in, or have connections to these places. So what’s the solution? That’s a tough one. In the long term, it seems to me that the solution is to rethink our public housing strategy to avoid large pockets of public housing in any one area of the city an instead encourage more mixed income properties, especially in areas west of the park (though NIMBYism is sure to make that impossible). In the short term, though, there has to be more than the police can do to keep a closer eye on the youths living in these places. Concentrated police presence in and around these areas as well as mandatory curfews as a condition of living there would be a start.

  • One approach so as to avoid “bulldozing” would be to give the tenants of the projects blanket ownership of their homes and then give them the right to sell them. That way, the projects will naturally come to a balance.

    Any artificial concentration of poverty will breed crime. I’m sorry if that’s not PC but it’s true.

  • A practical question — driving down 11th on my way to work yesterday morning, I saw about 6 younger dudes squaring off against each other on the corner and in the street in front of Wonderland. The exchange was heated and looked like it could become violent. I called 911 from my car and reported it. 911 asked for my name and address (they told me it wasn’t required) and I gave it. Now I’m reflecting on that decision. Generally, can a caller’s info ever be released? I’m not particularly worried about yesterday’s incident, but I’m thinking about how I should handle future calls. Any knowledge on this issue would be appreciated.

  • A great point from Colbert King’s column of 10 March:

    “It’s nice to hear that an employee went to the FBI and blew the whistle. It is significant, however, that Fenty was kept in the dark until the FBI raid and arrest took place. On Wednesday, I asked whether city Attorney General Peter Nickles was also kept out of the loop. I’m still waiting for an answer. But think about it: Why do D.C. employees turn to the FBI, Congress or the media, or keep their mouths shut, rather than voluntarily report waste, fraud and abuse to the city government? Fenty should take that on in next year’s State of the District address. ”

    I do believe that every branch of municipal government is so corrupt, the most successful move would be to have a couple honest cops get the FBI to investigate the MPD. Not so much their inaction, which is troublesome, but the full-blown corruption: protection for drug dealers that some on this blog have hinted at, protection for that whorehouse that is Acuario on 11th Street (which some of us have witnessed firsthand). A total house-cleaning in MPD is needed, probably before anything else. Many in the police department cannot be trusted.

  • Column from 21 March; sorry.

  • Acuario is not a whorehouse (tried to post this before, got lost in the sauce), I go there relatively frequently for a beer (maybe two or three times a month) and I’ve never seen anything that even resembled sex for sale.

  • I’m moving to the area and wanted desperately to move to DC proper rather than Northern VA-too suburban. But in trying to find out where to live and reading these things I ended up giving in to my wife. Old Town it is, with a six week old son I just couldn’t imagine not feeling safe while out walking.

  • Anon1109:
    My roommate and his friend from out of town went there late one night looking to keep drinking after the bars closed (they were still open). They were offered girls. Shocked, they quickly left and it’s become somewhat of a joke among us as we walk by.

  • That was supposed to be to Anon1108, sorry Anon1109.

  • @Nick: I imagine if anything ever went to trial, you could be called to be a witness.

  • As a new home owner in Northern Columbia Heights, I found my first ANC1A Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting held last night to be disappointing and frustrating. The overall tone of the meeting (from attendees and commissioners) was unfriendly and contentious but I was most disappointed with what seems to be a missed opportunity for a productive neighborhood forum.

    Having read about the increase in area crime, I came to the meeting expecting an emphasis on this topic and I was hopeful for a productive conversation. What I got instead was a meeting that began with a 35 minute bicker session between commissioners about the order of the agenda and a brief period for community comments that had a few useful announcements but seem more a venue for personal attacks.

    I left early out of frustration so maybe I missed the constructive dialogue I was hoping for. Is this the typical nature of these ANC meetings? Couldn’t this time together be better utilized? I realize that area crime is a major topic of Police Service Area Community Meetings but these ANC meetings could also be used to discuss neighborhood-based action.

  • New On Sherman, where did you buy? I just bought on Sherman a year ago. I am very interested in getting involved in community meetings. I heard that some time ago, there used to be a community orgnization for the block of Kenyon to Lamont between 11th and Sherman. Anyone interested in re-juvenating and/or expanding that group?

  • @ 11:09 — as a property owner in CH, it’s not in my interest to tell you this, but you made the right choice, esp. with a 6 week-old. If blog comments are enough to get you second-guessing an area, the experience of living here probably isn’t for you. I think the safety threat is typically exaggerated in these types of fora, but there still are blocks I never would walk.

    It strikes me that the immediate answer lies in greater enforcement in two areas: (1) the juvenile justice system and (2) public housing enforcement of regulations/lease terms, nearly all of which provide that any guest, household member, etc. who commits a crime on the property is cause to terminate the lease.

    But throw me in with the cynics. It’s the inmates who run the asylum in DC. Elected officials have no incentive to get tough — they have incentives to get re-elected, which typically involves increasing the tax base, playing Robin Hood, and making a mad run to show up at the ribbon-cutting for another renovated pocket park in a part of town most people don’t go. Occasionally, they may talk tough, but the proof is in the pudding. The bureaucracy is still nursing a Barry administration hangover and is, at pretty much every level, some combination of incompetent, inefficient, and corrupt. The only official who gets it, as far as I can tell, is Michelle Rhee, who is meeting massive institutional resistance from entrenched interests made all the more powerful by the job protections they have accumulated over the years.

  • I live near the corner of Sherman and Irving and would be happy to participate in constructive efforts to improve the community.

  • We need a Michelle Rhee for the DC Housing Authority.

  • @ New on Sherman — Welcome to ANC1A! The ANC system is an absolute joke. Check out the ANC1A website — did they have an agenda up BEFORE last night’s meeting? Of course not (they still don’t). There are minutes up for 2 meetings in the last two years. The elections are generally uncontested on the ballot and seats remain vacant.

    My one experience with ANC1A came when I emailed the two members closest to me about a concern, one of whom had posted to a local online forum for input from the community. I got no response from my commissioner, but he still took the time to enter into a petty email scrap (on which I was copied) with his colleague about her invasion into his single-member district! Never took the time to respond to my concerns and questions.

    OK, enough with my wholly off-topic rant. I’ll loop it back by saying that if you expect something productive on this front to emerge from the ANC, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  • criminals have acted brazenly for years–robbing stores in broad daylight, for example, along 14th street nw near U. one of store owners, noi chudoff, of ‘go mama go’ was one who tirelessly petitioned the city for more police, especially on the ground. sadly, nothing has really changed.

  • There is pending legislation that would make repeat gun offenders face a mandatory minimum penalty for carrying a weapon, admittedly this is just a start and obviously won’t be all that needs to be done, but it is a start. I have been bombarded with work and family responsibilities so I cannot devote the time in the near term to really tackle these issues as I had hoped.

    However, the next public city council meeting on crime issues, including the pending bill, is coming up, and perhaps – just perhaps – the least we all could do is show up en masse and show Mendelsohn, et al, that we are serious about changes. Just a thought. If 35 people from the hood showed up (instead of the usual 2 or 3) then maybe the council might start to get it.

    I am sorry I don’t have more time to devote to this issue or PoP’s wonderful forum right now, but April-May is the worst time at my job and thems the breaks.

    Monday, May 18, 2009
    10:30 a.m., 5th Floor Council Chambers, John A. Wilson Building
    1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20004

  • Hey eleventh.otis.bombs:

    Can you tell me where this post came from?
    # Anonymous Says:
    April 9th, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Acuario is not a whorehouse (tried to post this before, got lost in the sauce), I go there relatively frequently for a beer (maybe two or three times a month) and I’ve never seen anything that even resembled sex for sale.

    # eleventh.otis.bombs Says:
    April 9th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    My roommate and his friend from out of town went there late one night looking to keep drinking after the bars closed (they were still open). They were offered girls. Shocked, they quickly left and it’s become somewhat of a joke among us as we walk by.
    # eleventh.otis.bombs Says:
    April 9th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    That was supposed to be to Anon1108, sorry Anon1109.

  • Welcome back Odentex. You’ve been missed! And thanks for the info re: the next council meeting on crime issues. I’d caution that the Council and Mayor are in another spat these days re: the council subpoena’s of various employees of the mayor. So, stuff proposed by the mayor, such as the crime bill, are totally in limbo.

    And yes, for the previous posters, the ANC meetings are dysfunctional. You’re lucky racially motivated attacks didn’t break out, which is the usual SOP…

  • If we’re all good libs, this is where we start pointing to such-and-such Brookings study on mandatory min. sentenicing, how it doesn’t work, etc. etc. Then, that Atlantic article on concentration of poverty gets linked to again. Just moving things along a little…

  • TIm: I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re asking…

  • So I’ve done some checking, no one has announced running against Mendelson or Bowser or anyone really. More to the point, no one is running against Fenty, the boss behind all this crap. He’s a machine…

  • eleventh.otis.bombs:

    Thanks for the response, there seems to be a posting from you (unless I’m wrong) about the Acquiro establishment on 11th St., between Park and Monroe Sts., NW. I thought this was odd under the discussion about crime and outrage in DC and was wondering if you could direct me to the location where this discussion came from.

  • @ NAB — funny stuff. Unfortunately, DC living sapped most of the “good lib” out of me, at least when it comes to local issues. These days, I sound like a Nixon voter when I get going on these neighborhood crime and quality of life issues.

  • The problem of violent street crime in C.H. isn’t too big to fix, but finding the best solution is going to be difficult, to say the least, given D.C.’s inherent systemic failures. On the other hand, minimizing your individual chance of becoming a victim of violent street crime is plain and simple: don’t walk around alone at night. Street criminals go after the easiest prey. (If you’re walking around alone at night, you are it.) People are not animals. But, just like in nature, when easy prey becomes scarce, predators (i.e., violent street criminals) move on to better hunting grounds.

  • TIm:
    The sidetrack started with a 1100a comment by CP and continued with an 1108a comment by Anon.

  • Can someone point me towards resources that might help one consider running against Mendelsohn? Just curious. For now. We’ll see. Must think about it.


  • AMF, if you mean the process and protocols and such, see:

    That is the DC Board of Elections. The one big thing to remember is that the Democratic primary is the big deal since most voters are Democrats. So, you need a way to win the primary.

    If you are looking for basic reasons Mendelson needs to go, start here:

    Journalistic and relatively unverified, but food for thought. In my few personal communications with Mendelson and watching him during hearings and meetings, I see no reason to dispute the article. Mendelson is very, very concerned about the rights of criminals. While I agree they have rights and protections, I don’t think that should be the focus of the Committee on Public Safety / Judiciary.

  • Where’s Batman or the Nite Owl when you need him?

  • I realize this is a sidetrack, ANC1A meetings are a total joke and a total waste of time. It’s only worse now that the commission includes people who spend all day writing nonsensical anti-development rants on every area blog and listserver. The ANC could do a few very simple, very easy things to be a FAR more productive use of time (and these have been suggested by many people, over and over, to no avail) that would actually attract non-crazy community members to the meetings. (As noted, post agendas and past minutes online like most other ANC’s do, post draft voluntary agreements and thigns like that online so they can be reviewed before meetings, don’t spend the first 40 minutes of every meeting on going over the agenda and approving past meetings points of order and other b.s., but instead dive right in to what people in attendance come to hear about, allow more time for community input and cut off windbag commissioners from five minute diatribes, etc.).

    It you want to see a productive approach to dealing with area crime (and I am not a member, just an admirer), check out the far more useful meetings and website of the NWCHA:

  • if someone plans on running for council, the only way you’ll displace a long-term incumbent is with money, money, and more money. even if your ideas are new, you’ll still need a lot of resources to get your name and message out there. my free advice is that if you are going to run on a “tough on crime” platform, then also drop support for gun control. it’s a fight that the city has lost and it’s the issue that will keep DC statehood out of reach. if you campaign for tough sentencing and more moderate gun control, you’re instantly a “different candidate” and you will draw in TONS of money from gun groups across the nation. enough to mount a serious run.

  • One day a couple years ago I heard an interesting statement from a wonderful ex-con “old G” as he described himself. I asked him why there was no spray paint graffiti in his block. He said, man, we don’t spray paint, we just spray bullets. Pop pop pop, pop pop pop pop…. What a great city!? At least these kids are just beating up lone individuals and not shooting them in the face!

    Great idea, get money from the pro-gun lobby, now you’re talking….if we just could find a pro-gun lobbyist who is anti-bullets….

    Love the idea to go out en masse for the hearing to support mandatory sentences for gun possession, great start. Should follow up with youth-gang-violence mandatory sentences.

    Youth violent crime offender registry for the District!! and the sooner the better. How can we do anything if we don’t know who they are, what they’ve done, where they live, etc. This way, when we’re attacked we know one place to look to find the perp, or perhaps as they approach, you can say, hey, I know you, I saw you on facebook!

    And again, I say, if a 14 yr old can get caught red-handed ramming a stolen car into a police cruiser and not face any charges at all (actually happened with a car stolen from me), well you know, it just stinks.

  • Print up flyers telling people you will name names and report them to the police. do this nightly. Call the FBI, DEA and related federal agencies when MPD is not responsive. Learn the law. Do this especially if you think MPD is receiving bribes from the people in question.

    DEA Anonymous tip:

    FBI anonymous tip:

    Do this every time you see a crime committed that you think rises to the federal level, like RICO.


    Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

    Thanks Neener, good idea.

  • Thanks for the feedback on ANC meetings- it’s too bad that the ANC isn’t a productive forum to discuss important topics like the increase in area crime. I’ve been to the NWCHA site and will def. attend their next meeting.

    ShermanAveGuy: We bought our place in early March on Sherman between Kenyon and Lamont. In addition to becoming more active with NWCHA, I would love to get this Sherman block group going again, or join those who are already active in some way. You – and anyone else on/near this block who is interested- can email me at [email protected] and we can discuss. We can be sure to leave 50 minutes at the beginning of meetings to fight about the agenda. 🙂

    PoP, if you know more about the history of this Sherman block group, it would be great to hear from you.

  • I say we get as many concerned citizens together as possible and form a human chain down Park Road from 14th as far East as we can go. We can block traffic and carry signs calling for less violence, better police presence, etc. A non-violent disruption of several neighborhoods might really demonstrate how sick of this situation the neighborhood really is.

  • I like 13th St’s idea.

    People need to know they’re no longer wanted in the neighborhood unless they stop assaulting people.

  • Find out that attempted murderer’s address and protest in front of his house.

  • Neener,
    Naming names ain’t goona do diddley. Even people in my little small hometown sell drugs and everyone knows everyone. Obviously prison is not a big enough deterrent. Plus, are we really safer if we throw the book at every petty drug dealer? I think not. That is not solving the problem. I see people walk past a huddle of cigarette smokers all the while complaining about people smoking weed in public. As if that is the problem.

    Even most drug dealers no more want to be involved with violence than CVS wants to be involved with shoplifting. But ultimately it is a cost of doing business. The only difference is that CVS calls the police and the drug dealer has noone to call.

    When the money is big enough, there is always someone willing to take a chance at getting rich. That is an ECONOMIC fact unlikely to be broken by calling the police or building more rec centers.

  • New to Sherman, there is also the NCHCA, which covers where you live. If you have any ideas for new community initiatives for the organization, your input is definitely welcome and encouraged. Speaking of which, neighborhood clean-up this Saturday …

  • Nate,

    I think there’s a difference between SOMEONE willing to take a chance selling drugs and 25% of the kids on the block willing to take a chance. I think there’s a big difference between multiple crews and single crews.

    It didn’t play out very well on our block where the last surviving crew ended up getting cocky and out of line, but it’s a difference.

    I never knew drug dealers in high school because I never did drugs. Obviously there were some and when I was in college people told be about John T whose parents still own a restaurant in Bethesda. He died of an OD. Simply put, besides a few creepy phone calls to female friends of mine (“Come over to my house, we’re having a party.” yeah right.) he didn’t carry a gun or mug people or draw people with guns to his house.

    Actually, he didn’t sell on the street which made a huge difference.

    So part of what I’m saying is… can our activites keep 25% of the people out of the business, or make a dozen people decide to go to a movie or stay inside for a month so the main dealer gets lonely or like what happened on my block, the dealer’s best friend decided to move to PG County so the dealer sits alone from Monday-Thursday.

    The question is, what would your quality of life be like if the dealers were only out Friday-Sunday after dark? Because right now, this spring and last fall, that’s what we have- issues only after dark Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We got that far. now, the next step is to convince the main drug dealer to move out of the city to be with his friend.

    I’ve asked him that question a few times- “When are you and [xxx] going to get an apartment, you can’t keep living with your grandma!” And he blows me off, but one day I might have an impact and then that’s it. No more dealers on the block.

  • in response to Julie’s post
    Head Start and HighScope learning programs were designed to reach children of at risk populations such as the ones you mentioned. Eisenhowser started them during his term, the government didn’t want to continue funding them but he insisted to keeping them running and track the young children that were involved for their lives. Children that were involved in either Head Start and/or HighScope programs were way more likely ( I don’t remember the exact specifics) to complete high school, and go on to earning some kind of Associates or Bachelors degree, or hold a serious steady job, not hold a criminal record, become homeowners, and have a stable family life. If only D.C. could involve more children in these programs for the at risk population here.

    Federal law requires states to provide free services ( PT, OT, Speech, and Special Education) to children who have a diagnosed disabilty. This includes a developmental delay. However, the law states that each state can define what is a developmental delay. In richer counties and districts, such as Fairfax, the delay is defined as 25% in one or more areas ( such as expressive language, receptive language, gross motor, fine motor, cognition) the child quailifies for free services provided by Fairfax County Public School System.

    In D.C. the delay needs to be 50% in TWO or more areas. It’s basically like saying a 3 year old on a functioning level as a 1.5 year old. One of the reasons is because if the delay is 25%, so many of the children in D.C. would qualify and there’s just not enough money to pay for all of it. Sad isn’t it on numerous levels. The children who live in at risk populations would benefit from these services during their first 3 years of life ( which are the most critical point of development in one’s life) and it could help break the cycle that we see in cities.

  • Someone should start a facebook event where we all can show up at a certain time in front of an elected officials house and demand tougher laws. And then the next time we can try another officials house. (remember the protest about street preaching that was done outside of one of the councilmembers house in Georgetown? and that was only like 10 people) Of course it will be peaceful, but its the only way to get heard. And trust me they will listen when 100’s of people are protesting outside their house or condo. I said facebook event because it seems more people show up when they can see others are saying they are going to be there. I am sure PoP will let us know if you tell him its up.

    I would start this….but I have not had my Harvey Milk “what have I done with my life so far” moment. Now we just need our Harvey Milk to step up! ???

  • no drug dealing on the corners in ledroit… but we do have muggings.

  • Re: the RICO suggestion. While I see the appeal in this approach, particularly in going after some of the more established crews, a great unspoken here, at least when it comes to getting convictions that will take the criminals off the street, is the jury pool. There is so much distrust of and disdain for the police in segments of the population that they will discount most cops’ testimony and even the smallest police errors will become cause for acquittal. Fairly depressing that even if we had the Council laws, the prosecutors, the cops, and the judges all on the same page, we’d still have to look in the mirror and figure out the juries.

  • This was posted on the Yahoo Group, this is the level of scums we are dealing with, I hope it is not really true but I did see the camera crew this morning:
    Hello all,

    This is second- and third-hand information, but I’m told a 92-year-old man who lives on Park Road near 11th watched helplessly as two teenage boys took his dog, Sparky, off his front porch and carried him away. Sparky is small, black, and resembles a Bichon from the picture my wife was handed at the dog park this afternoon. Apparently, a TV crew was doing a story on this as well.

    If you happen to see Sparky, please call the 3D Substation at 576-8222.

  • 10:10, your attitude is defeatist.

    In RICO cases you don’t need to have a jury pool in DC because it’s a federal case, it can get moved.

    Also, it doesn’t really matter if someone is convicted, just that a family be threatened to have their house confiscated as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise and that might scare them into moving or sending their kids to military school.

  • The easiest things that everyone can do right now… be seen, keep seeing, and keep clean.

    be seen…
    Part of the appeal of Petworth is the front porch culture. Get out there and enjoy it! It’s a fantastic way to get to know your neighbors along with walks in the neighborhood. I think crime would definitely go down if everyone was out on their front porch with their eyes open. Most criminals don’t like an audience.

    keep seeing and reporting…
    If crimes are quickly reported and citizens take a zero tolerance stance rather than turning a blind eye, we can make a difference. When you’re out for a walk on a beautiful day or evening, look down the alleys, keep an eye peeled in the park, look out for your neighbors, and have your camera phone on you.

    keep clean…
    I’ve heard that crime happens less in areas that citizens keep neat and clean. Starting now, we’re committed to taking a walk around the block once a week with a big trash bag in tow. I bet we’ll meet a few neighbors on this walk too since our block seems to collect a good share of convenience food trash to make it a fairly slow walk. Maybe this idea will work for you too.

    We’re a family with a 2.5 year old and a 2.5 month old — hope to meet you in the neighborhood!

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