Council Member Bowser – “Council fails to act with fierce urgency necessary to tackle District


A Press Release From Council Member Bowser’s office:

Enough is enough. I could not in good faith support Councilmember Phil Mendelson

108 Comment

  • It’s going to be a long hot summer. What saddens me the most is that I’m scared to take walks after dinner. Did Fenty actively caucus for passing the public nuisance law?

  • I will remember Mr. Mendelson at election time. I don’t care if the anti gay marriage people take credit for his demise.

  • Yeah, that’s the answer to people who break the law: more laws.

    They should just go back to hiring more cops who are ex-cons. Bonus pay if they’ve got itchy trigger fingers.

  • If three white guys are walking around in Georgetown, would they be considered a gang? Better yet, should they be considered a gang? Or would it only apply to certain sections of the city? Or certain people in certain sections of the city? Or certain people in any section of the city as criminals are mobile? How would the police decide all of this without someone’s rights being infringed?

    You don’t empty an ocean by catching the fish downstream. Examine the problem. I bet almost all the criminals in DC have a common denominator between them. Attack the core issue and there would be no need for these silly gang laws. DC doesn’t even have a gang problem. Bad kids hang with other bad kids. Call it a gang. Call it a crew. Why these parents allowing this behavior from their kids should be the council’s issue.

  • Ahoy !

    First we must have order so that we can each go about our lives at work, school, and play.

    How many more decades have we citizens to endure here in D.C. without basic public safety.

    Face it, the left cannot govern with all their hang ups. Home Rule has been a dismal, pathetic failure.

    Let’s go back to apolitical administration of our small federal city and simply look to the three stars on our D.C. flag.

    Three gray haired, old men and women, experienced and educated in public administration, appointed by the President of the United States with staggered terms; three Commissioners of our Federal City run as it used to be here since George Washington appointed the first three Commissioners in our City of Washington before Home Rule.

    The law abiding, honest good citizens that live and work to make something of their lives are not welcome in this city so inhospitable to those that could bring positive change, but don

  • Nate, a ‘gang’ is a criminal term that applies to specific patterns of behavior. Three white guys walking in Georgetown is not a gang, but its the type of logic Phil mendelson likes to use to deflect and divide people from passing real crime fighting laws.

    A gang in DC is defined as an ongoing criminal organization, association, or group of three or more individuals, whether formal or informal who actively participate in criminal gang activity with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang. In other words, gang members are criminals whose actions may range from drug dealing to crimes of violence. Gangs often thrive on intimidation, notoriety and may find violence not only to be glamorous, but necessary in establishing their gang’s reputation.

    Gang members may participate in a pattern of criminal gang activity. This activity can be defined as the commission, attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of two or more criminal acts, including racketeering, which are committed on separate occasions or by two or more persons.

  • @Nate:

    the ‘three white guys in G-town’ stuff might work in a philosophy class, but we all can pick the criminals in real life. you may not want to say it, or believe it about yourself, but you know what they look like in this particular neighborhood(s) at this particular spot on the space-time continuum.

    anyone reading PoP knows the myriad of sociological reasons for the upstream causes of bad behavior. we all also know the history and reasons leading to a dispropotionate minority representation engaged in criminal activity. we all think it sucks and is unfair. [can’t we put that in a sticky note to lead all comment sections]

    don’t insult minorities or the poor by suggesting that they don’t know right from wrong. dealt a shitty hand, absolutely. but still have to tighten up and pull their shit together like everyone else.

    implementing long term solutions directed at the sources of the problem is not mutually exclusive from dropping the hammer on these fucktards in the here and now. let’s deport who ever we can and round up and isolate the rest – white, black or brown.

  • It’s not like a bill supported by Evans, Graham, Fenty et al. vs. one supported by Mendelson, Cheh, Barry, et al. is going to be like Fascism vs. Marxism. It’s not even like Republican vs. Democrat. Hell, it’s not even like moderate Democrat vs. liberal Democrat.

    It’s really 2 slightly different shades of soft-on-crime 1970s ineffective urban liberalism.

  • the civil injunction provision of the Fenty/Evans legislation has been used very effectively in other jurisdictions to target and break up gang behavior. It’s a shame this was not enacted.

    If Fenty wasn’t so busy sticking his thumb in the Council’s eye over petty BS, didn’t bring this legislation at the last possible second, and actually did something to try to convince the holdout Council Members, I have no doubt it would have passed.

    Our Mayor looks great at photo ops, but isn’t providing much real leadership.

  • The best was Marion Barry suggesting more midnight basketball. These guys are a bunch of jokers. Offering up their sons walking home from football practice as possible victims of this law? Give me a break. Their constitutional debate is one their citizens cannot afford.

    While neither bill gets to the core of the crime problems, it is sad to see them error on the side of nothing. Their attitude and approach sets a poor example for the rest of the city. How are we to expect our neighbors and OURSELVES to speak up and get tough on crime if our own elected leaders won’t do it? This talk about civil liberties, gun control and basketball is nothing more than fiddling while Rome burns.

  • it’s the same old DC crap. whenever a progressive thinking Gov’t tries to do something radical to affect change, it’s met with strong resistance by the old regime e.g. Marion “crack pipe, tax evader” Barry. meanwhile, people continue to die on a daily basis in his Ward

    such a shame.

  • Cliff is 100 percent correct. And 3 black guys walking up Georgia Ave is not a gang, either. And more importantly, the police don

  • Currently there isn’t much the city can do about illegal activity such as drug dealing in plain sight (unless MPD just happens to see it). What this law tries to do (and I’m not saying it would work, or is a good idea) is address the chronic problems of certain corners, alleys, and blocks. Whether it would work or not, Phil Mendelson’s sadly predictable response to crime from his ivory enclave west of the park is basically “if you can’t afford to live in my neighborhood, too bad for you.” If his children had to live in a house where drug activity was going on in the alleyway you can bet your ass he’d want to lock up everyone who even walked too slowly.

    In the past I had hoped we in the community could work with Phil, and even on occasion I have defended him (somewhat), but it’s well past time that we had an at-large member in Mendelson’s spot that takes public safety and quality of life seriously and is not simply an apologist for dysfunctional behavior IN SOMEONE ELSE’S NEIGHBORHOOD.

    Count me in for a donation if someone wants to run against this social engineering patrician. He must go.

  • Yeah, Mendelson’s got to go.

  • Honestly though on midnight basketball, does anyone think it would help? I

  • Anyone have a candidate in mind to replace Mendelson? We need a dem primary challenger. Prince, you got any interest? any suggestions? I do the politics thing for a living, so I’m willing to help out.

  • I’d vote for PoP!

  • It’s time that a younger generation of dems replace the out of touch old guard like Mendelson.

  • Nate: While the “three white guys in G-Town” are obviously don’t rise to the criteria of a gang e.g. where is the criminal activity? I don’t agree with the earlier comment by ballslightning “we know what they look like” is what makes people fear profiling that targets poor minority kids.

    But the bottomline is that a community and MPD know who’s in a gang from watching their illegal activity year after year. With this sort of fact/evidence based starting point, we should be able to use nusaince laws to go after these punks.

    If rich, out of touch people like Councilmember Phil Mendelson want to live in ivory towers they can stay in upper Ward 3. As for the City’s moderate income residents – black, white, latino living in the real world, we need our government’s help!

    We cann’t forget these guys (while certainly “disadvantaged”) are as self-interested and selfish, and contemptious of their neighbors as any Eron CEO! Many liberals feel that this law and order stuff is somehow “conservative”. The same way Enron CEO’s had a blatent disregard for all those they hurt while pursuing the almighty $$$ – that is what the local gangs/drug dealers are doing while they carelessly shoot and rob members of our community. Protecting our community is actually a LIBERAL approach vs. the conservative “free market” fend for yourself approach.

    Let’s vote Councilmember Phil Mendelson out and start regulating the serious gangs in our city!

  • Ray Clark for City Council!!!!!

  • Nate wants us to believe that we can’t tell the difference between a group of friends and a gang by looking at them. I’ve lived in DC for 15 years and lived a few miles over the line in MD for 25 years before that. I know who is in a crew by looking at them. end of story.

    I see groups of blue collar black adults on our block sitting on their porches, drinking a beer in a bag, talking to friends, riding their bikes to get dinner, doing work in their yard, talking about the Redskins and saying “hello” to all the neighbors. Not a gang.

    I see blue collar black young adults standing on the corner, one of their friends is standing across the street at the corner, they’re talking on walkie talkies, one of them has a plain white shirt while the others don’t, they won’t say hello to me, and cars are coming up to talk to them- that’s a crew.

    The idea that a resident of DC cannot tell by sight who is in a gang or not is ridiculous. I can spot crews very clearly now and have called 911 about twice a week on crews all summer. Drive down GA ave and see groups of teens hanging out, sharing ipod buds and laughing, then see the 4 guys with “thousand yard stares” and you know they’re selling drugs.

    The reality on my block is that people have told me to my face that the drug dealers are not drug dealers and then the drug dealers get arrested for selling drugs or weapons violations or rape. Now, did my neighbors REALLY believe that the drug dealers were innocent or were they just bullsh*tting the ofay. I can’t answer that, but I know this, two or three years after I was told that I was “Seeing things” every person I suspected of selling drugs is awaiting trial or MPD confirmed they were a suspect. I can feel confident that my gang-dar is accurate over the long-term.

  • The gang problem, the violence problem, the crime problem will NEVER be solved with a crime bill, whether or not there is an injunction component or not. The problem comes from poverty, lack of parenting (or often simply lack of parents), a two-tiered education system and job system based on class, and yes, racism sprinkled on top.

    Until the entire culture shifts, and every single member of the community is willing to lend a hand to intervene in kids lives before they reach their teens, this problem will continue. Crime laws are reactive. They are at best a very short term fix. At worst, an colossal waste of time, money and human resources.

    We need to stop debating punitive measures and start actually caring about our neighbors rather then demonizing them, and everyone, everyone single adult in the community, no exceptions, needs to take an active role in raising and instructing and teaching the kids that have kids for parents or no parents at all. That’s the only real long term solution, all this crime debate is window dressing.

  • Hey Anonymous: Almost every single person posting here knows the root causes of gangs and crime are due to social problems (poverty, drugs, por parenting schools, etc.) Furthermore, I don’t think anyone thinks a crime bill will “solve” gang/violence problems in the city…

    But a short-term fix is a hell of a lot more than a “no-term fix”. If you have a gang terrorizing you and your neighbors (often also poor and minority) then you need anti-crime action NOW! In conjuction we also need to address all the other issues, but it shouldn’t be a zero sum game!

  • Clearly something needs to be done. I suspect a public nuisance law won’t help too much. It’s already illegal to carry guns in public, shoot people, do drugs, sell drugs, etc. The police barely can keep up with the existing laws and seem frustrated that they arrest young perpetrators who are fairly quickly back out on the street. If only the Council could force the Prosecuters office to do more. In my case, as a victim, the 14-yr old perp who got caught red handed committing felony offense against a police officer got away scot-free.

    I wish they’d consider releasing a violent youth offender registry. I support the concept of tougher penalties if you’re caught with a gun in a car perpetrating crimes. Youths caught with guns or involved in shootings should face trials as adults and face much longer sentences so maybe just maybe they’d think twice before terrorizing our neighborhoods.

    As one who echoes Muriel’s sentiments, I am scared to take my kids outside in Petworth, as my visitor said last night (as he refused to walk to the Metro), to avoid the “gang-bangers” that are rampant in this City!

  • Scared of the Thugs: Good point about more effective prosecution!

  • Blaming Mendolson is a red hearing. He’s a real weeny, but he was just offering an easy out to the Councilmen in less affluent wards to not have to make a vote that would be seen as unpopular with their constituency. It’s is politics over public safety. I’d be ecstatic if 3 white early 20’s guys in Adam’s Morgan were detained given all the drunken stupidity that is encouraged there. Hell arrest them for just being public…which is an actual crime.

    The problem is that the black community is comfortable with the level of violence in the city. They’re afraid that if the violence disappears all the poor people will get pushed out of the city by yuppies. This is the “Gentrification Problem” which gets discussed in whispers around town. It’s an existential fight which explains the lack of rationality. The political class took over the city in ’68 with violence (the riots), and they same leaders from that era are prepared to maintain control through violence even though the world has (mostly) moved on. It’s really that fundamental. Whether it would ever actually happen is anyone’s guess, but this is what drives most of the decisions in the city. Anyone who is allied with Barry is of this mindset.

  • Anyone ever read Freakonomics?
    The economist offered a different interpretation of why violent crime decreased so much in the 90s when it had been in an upward swing since the 70s. It wasnt ‘more effective policing’ or ‘better and broader social programs’ or ‘parenting classes’ or ‘neighborhood watches’ or ‘stronger anti-crime bills’.
    It was because Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973. The early 90s is when these young and unwanted youths would have been graduating, or maturing, from petty crime to violent crime. The crime rate went down because these people simply didnt exist. It may not be a popular view, but it has proven to be a statistically significant explanation for the dip in violent crime, while the other approaches (most advocated in this thread) have not.

  • Badlands, you’re saying that the Black community actually wants to maintain a certain amount of violent crime as a deterrent to keep White people out?

  • Anonymous @ 9:59, tougher laws like this one will damn sure solve these problems on specific blocks, and that’s all those residents care about. People who simply point out obvious social problems with no realistic solutions are often not living with their families on blocks where thugs regularly sell dope. People have to raise their OWN children and it is insulting to suggest they must do more to “help” criminals. It is utterly ridiculous to suggest that people who are following the law, working and paying taxes, and raising their own children are somehow obligated to raise someone else’s. This city is filled to the brim with after-school programs, recreation centers, head start, summer jobs programs, and all sorts of public and non-profit mentioning programs. Yet crime still is a problem and a small percentage of poor people still sell dope. These laws don’t target young men in general, they target criminals. Criminals aren’t in need of a hug or any after-school programs, they’re in need of a kick in the ass.

  • Badlands with the truth.

  • If what Badlands says if right, this city needs to do some serious work on race relations.

  • Badlands: I’m not blaming Mendelson for anything other than inaction – which you readily admit he is guilty of for political reasons?!? Not sure why pointing out that our council needs to be refreshed is “red herring” when you yourself suggest it’s a political issue.

  • @Badlands

    the “Gentrification Problem” is sometimes also referred to as “The Plan” by those who are concerned about it. It’s been part of urban folklore in the District for a very long time.

  • Well done, Badlands.

    Concise, and very well done.

    You’ve hit the nail square on the head.

    It is indeed existential and politics over public safety that explains the lack of rationality.

    Which is why seeking a solution with elected politicians is futile.

    We need to bring back apolitical administration.

    Find time to write more.

  • I for one am willing to give up some of my civil liberties to be safe. New York didn’t take this mamby pamby approach to crime – they cracked down and cracked down hard! Now they have a relatively low crime rate for a US city. I am so sick of people in this city crying about their civil liberties and in the same breath crying about crime and on top of it all being unwilling to call the police and do something about even when you are a witness. If you are not a criminal what are you so worried about?

  • I’m in favor of returning to the federal appointee system, F*&( statehood. We have all the problems of your standard large city political machine, or machines in this case with none of the oversight that generally comes with being part of a larger state. About the only thing besides increasing crime…. errr helping constituents… that harry ‘tommy’ thomas is good at is the useless naming of now broken rec centers.

  • This isn’t an “either or” issue. No one has a civil right to sell drugs on a specific corner. The politicians are pandering to an institutional fear of policing and of bias rather than adopting a common-sense approach to dealing with blatant criminal activity. I’ve now had a chance to look at the legislation and frankly, it’s really narrowly written and the alarmist attacks on it as a violation of some people’s “civil rights” are, frankly, stupid. As has been pointed out previously, this proposed law doesn’t give the MPD the right to go and bust up any group of young black men they just don’t care for, there has to be a court review and a court order. This certainly isn’t a cure all, and it may turn out that courts are too slow on the draw for it to be effective at all, but I think it’s rather short-sighted to suggest it’s either (a) the end of civil rights, or (b) not going to clean up a few corners. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

  • Somehow I don’t think someone that goes by the name “Cupcake” stands to risk much much in terms of civil liberties if a tougher gang law is passed.

  • Problem is, our politicians and public officials are criminals and scofflaws themselves.

    Marion Barry continues to not pay his taxes and continues to not pass drug tests (as recently as January 2006). Why on earth would he be tough on crime, he’s a freaking criminal himself. He can’t arrest the gang bangers and drug dealers because he needs them for his fix. How on earth can someone like that retain power? If he were an employee he’d be fired, but no, he truly is above the law as a council member.

    Let’s not forget about the nonsense in the tax office and the IT office. How about the MPD officers accused of stealing from toys for tots last Christmas. Or Fenty allowing his buddy to drive him around in a city owned Navigator (not sure why the city needs Navigators, but hell, everyone on my block owns one).

    How on earth can these folks be expected to run the city? How can they be expected to uphold the laws and create laws when they themselves break them and they do so with such arrogance. We’ll remember that “when a reporter asked whether someone who is not a city employee was allowed to serve as his driver, Fenty responded, “He is if I let him.'” And when Barry failed his drug test in 2006 all he had to say was “”Write what you want to write. That’s my official quote. No more, no less.”

    We need to learn that these people do not care about the City, they don’t care about us, they don’t care about crime and they don’t care about improving a damn thing. They’re in it for the power, for the money and above all else for themselves.

  • Sorry BADLANDS, but I think what you’re saying is too simple. None of the gang/drug dealers are doing this as part of a conspricay to keep white folks out. There may be a be politicos like M. Barry who have considered this, but overall no way.

    Your theory is a little like Intelligent Design. You see some some realtionships – crime by poor people = scared whites = less gentricfication = happy poor people and conclude the whole thing is explained by a intercate conspiracy (maybe run by the Barry diety).

    But I think what really is happening is that Whites are moving into crime ridden areas and then feel the crime directed against them is politically motivated. Sure some of it is hate crime, but I’d like to see evidence of it being a political conspiracy either on the part of politicians or criminals…

  • Stubs: right on. We can’t continue to tolerate lawlessness by our politicians. While ignorant voters may make excuses for them, more and more people who won’t tolerate criminal politicians will eventually take over the body politic of this city.

    P.S. Nevertheless, I think the Fenty example above is a little petty compared to the M. Barry stuff

  • Badlands: To build on what Jay ‘O just mentioned, don’t you think the fact that Bowser is getting out ahead of this issue might signal a change in the perception of what is politically acceptable? Her constituency may include a handful of “gentrifiers”, but she hardly needs to appeal to them to get elected, so who is this stand for? I think you may be painting with too broad a brush – all kinds of people are fed up here.

  • ballslightning Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 8:54 am



  • Funny true story, but I once had a tenant whose real name was Cupcake and she dealt drugs out of the kitchen window until her mother (on the lease) died and I got her out. Her two brothers were in jail for murder.

    (Sorry to divert from the serious discussion here.)

  • Jay’O, you have it wrong. The thugs are not involved at all. The black political class in DC refuses to bust the thugs or get serious on crime because seriously reducing crime would make the city more appealing to white / middle to upper income folks of all races who would never put up with councilmen like Thomas and Barry. Thus, Barry et. al. protect their criminal constituencies, AKA their “voter base,” from dilution by successful, responsible newcomers with “expectations of government.” Its a perfectly conspiratorial response for people who believe in “The Plan.” Who are also mostly the people who started the rumor about “The Plan.” Go figure.

  • Badlands presents an intriguing hypothesis, but I have to express my doubts. Most of the violent crime in this city is perpetrated against and among African-Americans. If Badlands were right, wouldn’t more crime be directed against whites? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Ed. Note: Original post has been updated above with an email from the ACLU.

  • Perhaps the Fenty offense I mentioned above is a little “petty,” but his response was not. Fenty’s response was dictatorial and absolutely inappropriate. Things are not so just because an elected official says so. Things are so because they have passed through the democratic process, meet judicial review, etc. Fenty’s response demonstrated absolute disrespect for the law. Imagine getting pulled over for running a stop sign and you’re response to the cop is “I can run stop signs if I want to.” Well, we all know that you and I can’t do as we want and neither can the Mayor, but he doesn’t get it. How then, can he possible run the city.

  • Now, if we’re talking about the political class ignoring crime for the sake of maintaining power, that’s another story, but I’m still doubtful. Anyone who managed to find real solutions to DC’s crime problem would automatically gain the support of DC residents of all stripes. Remember, Fenty came into power as a “reformer” and he enjoyed tremendous support from all parts of the city.

  • Sorry, but still gotta differ. My expereince has been that most of the long time residents (mostly black) support this BS from their Politicians because they remember the abuses of the Civil rights struggle. Marrion Barry and his ilk are exploiting these fears. The reason I know I’m right on this, is that crime is often the #! concern of all these long term residents. On my block they ar more scared than I am and they want to throw the book at the thugs. They might not like some of the changes that come with gentrification, but they sure as hell want something done.

    Long story short – I think the DC political class is responding to these deep seated civil rights concerns. Going soft on crime otherwise would be politically unwise (and let’s remeber Councilmember Menhedelson (spelling ? – who cares!) isn’t part of this political class with Barry.

  • Phil Mendelson is the best member of city council. Period.

    The commentary here suggests he is our villain, a straight-out-of-Rush-Limbaugh’s-most-paranoid-fantasy know-nothing, dithering liberal. According to the commentariat here, the more-enlighted members of city council are those that want to pass more laws.

    Well, here’s something to chew on: The thugs walking our streets don’t give a good goddamn what our laws say. See, they are law breakers.

    So we can either hold a lot of press conferences and sign more worthless pieces of paper, or we can be serious about executing the laws now on the books. That may be less sexy, but it is more serious and is more likely to actually change things. Because I guarantee you that if the only thing that happens is another law being passed, then absolutely nothing will change on the streets of Petworth.

    And for that reason, I wish some of the Mendelson-bashing would stop, because he is the only one of the names being mentioned who cares less about headlines and more about actually getting things done, about changing and challenging the government agencies that enforce the laws.

    I would very much like for something to be done about crime in Petworth — for those who commit crimes to be arrested and go to jail for as long as it takes. I’ve got no sympathy for Petworth’s criminals. Mendelson will get us to a solution, the others will get headlines.

  • Stubs: I hear ya…

  • I have to say some of these issues have boggled my mind for some time. I have had conversations with my neighbors who complain about crime in the neighborhood, but then when a police officer rolls by they are complaining about these pigs in their neighborhood, etc. I think there is a contradiction here, which confuses my natural logic. Many of the people I have encountered in my neighborhood don’t like crime, want to see it decrease, etc., BUT they have such a deep seeded, intense hatred not only of the police but of “the man” in general that outweighs their issues with crime. Perhaps better states, they dislike crime but they hate the police.

    Now, how does this play on our politicians? Well, they are faced with an issue of competing interests, not an uncommon dilemma for a politician, and as is usually the case, the politically expedient thing to do is figure out which issue is supported by more members of your constituency. And so we have it, politics at its finest (or worst). Politicians are soft on crime because their constituents hate the police. I think that this is somewhat applicable to the schools as well. Sure, everyone complains about the dismal quality of our schools (herein the dislike), but a definite majority express hatred of “the man.”

    If I had to make a theory out of this, I think this is related to being told what to do, being controlled, so to speak by what are perceived of as outsiders. The police, the schools, etc., represent outsiders attempting to control a neighborhood or people.

    I feel strongly about the first two paragraphs, the third however are just some musings.

  • Nate: Take a look at the law as it was proposed, it doesn’t give MPD the authority to make the decision, a prosecutor has to convince a judge that a certain area needs to be under such an order. You know as well as I do that drug operations in alleys, for example, can never be busted up completely by just arresting one or two (or even many) people. Also, the evidence available may not be strong enough to secure criminal convictions, but everyone (especially the residents) know what is going on. The spot remains “hot” even after several people are charged and he only way to deal with that sort of chronic issue to make the area off limits to all associated actors. By allowing for court review it isn’t up to MPD’s best guess.

    Again, it may not work in every case, but if it cleans up just a few blocks, why the opposition? It’s simple pandering to people who are fearful (or hateful) of law enforcement.

  • Jay’O expressed in his last post what I was trying to get at in mine. Thanks!

  • Petworth Guy: Hi Phil!

  • Badlands,
    I can tell you that black people are truly conflicted. We are tired of being on the receiving end of this failed drug war. So when the police come and all they do is jump out in our community, it makes us mad that they aren’t jumping out on white guys in G’town. It makes us mad that they are not even putting a dent on the drugs coming into this country. Yet, they attack the lowliest on the totem pole with vengeance.

    We get mad when one of us gets treated like a dog for a joint or something similarly trivial. We get angry when the cops will pull a taser gun on our son/neighbor/friend all for a half smoked joint. We get pissed when we are pulled over, stretched out in the rain while cops with dogs search our car for nothing. As such, the strong arm tactics of MPD become counterproductive. They serve to strengthen the no snitching mantra.

    While alot of the blame can be attributed to the black community, much of this is due to bad policy. This drug war has allowed unemployed men an avenue to arm themselves and terrorize the community. Similarly, it has given MPD the right to heavy handed tactics in the name of making the community safer. Just look at how the white people in Berwyn Heights reacted when PG cops burst in the mayor’s home and killed his dog. Or google the old lady in ATL that was KILLED over a bogus drug bust. This happens everyday in black America. Why do you expect us to feel any differently?

  • Odentex Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Nate: Take a look at the law as it was proposed, it doesn

  • Petworth Guy: Step one: Pull head out of ass. Step two: Take a long walk in Petworth and CH.

    I’m a liberal, big time. i.e universal health care, blah, blah, blah.

    Mendelson is not after solutions, he’s still fighting the civil rights fights of the 1960s and 1970s. Time have changed, and even liberals have evolved.

  • Petworth Guy: “The thugs walking our streets don

  • I don’t necessarily think that the Fenty crime proposals were misguided, but if you are going to get buy in from the community, have some hearings where the arguments in favor are made and convince people to support them. Too bad that didn’t happen. Because I think that suspicion of the police is a major reason that policing in this city is not more effective. It has to be dispiriting to be unappreciated by the public, which leads to the lax pursuit of the existing laws that we already have.

  • @Anonymous at 12:18

    I largely agree with everything you said, except the part about the police needing to witness criminal activity themselves. That’s not true. They need to gather evidence of the crime. In the case of most crominal activity, that would be a person who did witness the criminal activity, not necessarily a police officer.

    Given the reluctance of most people who witness criminal activity in the District to testify, I can understand the mistake, but it is an important distinction.

  • Ahoy !

    We used to have vagrancy and loitering laws in the District of Columbia.

    They were all done away with by civil rights lawyers gone amok.

    To lend perspective and give an idea of how far the pendulum has swung,

    I remember how my father had to tolerate being told by DC policemen walking the beat that if they found him standing on the corner when they came back around the block he’d be taken downtown in a paddy wagon for loitering at night while he was just waiting for the last trolley on his way to his third job on the night shift at the Hilton Hotel.

    He didn’t hold a chip on his shoulder because he wasn’t a white American. There was a frame of mind that if wanted to eat, you worked. It was that simple.

    You just coped, and worked to provide/educate for yourself and your family.

    We were urban poor Washingtonians, but we were urbane and civilized and didn’t steal from each other. That all started to change in ’68.

    Today we all eat. Who really works ?

    Who appreciates or even recognizes the time or luxury of being able to write on this medium as we do and philosophize while the scofflaws reek havoc around us ?

    Reformed Somali Pirate “Tantum Eruditi Sunt Liberi”

  • Nate: You are absolutley right about the drug war. A total waste of time, money and lives. I’m not black, but if I was I’d probably view the cops the same way you described. On the otherhand, smoking weed, drinking in public does create a lawless atmosphere – a challenge to “the man”. But this middle finger to authority makes “law abiding” citizens suspect these guys are also the guys who are respnsible for the more serious crime around. Therefore, when they are getting hasseled by the cops, it’s often because law abiding citizens see it as a way to get them when they are most vulnerable. Truth said – it’s a lot easier to get someone for public drug/alcohol use than for breaking into a car or robbing someone at 3 am.

  • I was struck by some testimony on WAUM this morning. Someone from Camp ACLU cited a scenerio where kids coming back from football practice could be dubbed as ‘a gang’. To me, that’s poor policing.

    If a beat cop was really on the money, he/she would be able to make the distinction of who the good kids coming home late from practice are versus gangs.

  • Jake: True. However, see if you can get a police officer to arrest a guy on your corner because you witnessed him dealing drugs. That type of street nuisance has to be witnessed by the officer, or the officer has to catch the guy in possession of drugs after your report. If you walk the officer right up to the guy and point and say “drug dealer” that is not sufficient to do anything if the guy

  • Petworth Res and other Mendelson apologists, read this Washingtonian article and tell us that Mendelson is not part of the problem:

  • Sorry, that last message was supposed to be addressed to Petworth “Guy” not “Res”.

  • @Anonymous 1:26 and 12:18

    yeah I’ve been there. And I don’t think we really disagree on anything really. I’m just pointing out the the coppers of full of cr*p when they tell you that they “can’t do anything because we didn’t see it happen,” which I’ve heard before in the past when I’ve reported criminal activity.

    They can make an arrest, they’ve just chosen not to.

  • @ ‘Nonmiss — please don’t buy that red herring argument. Sure, it’s the ACLU talking point, and certain councilmembers’, too. But it presumes and exploits the problem that others identify in this thread — namely, the perception by certain segments of the community that the police have some agenda other than to protect and serve the public. I’m not saying that there aren’t rogue officers out there somewhere who are less protect & serve and more harass & demean, but we have to treat them as rogues, not the rule.

    Unless and until people start to see the police as being for them rather than against them, all the problems discussed here are going to be exacerbated. Part of this can be addressed through more effective policing by way of better procedures and increased professionalism. But part of it can only be addressed by the consuming public who need to end distrust of the cops. The stop-snitichin’ ethos is one of the biggest hurdles to effective law enforcement in this town, and it drives me nuts when politicians and others encourage the underlying paranoia of the police that feeds it.

  • Oh, I’m so happy the ACLU and everyone else brought up the “blueprint.” How worthless. All you need to do is read the key assumptions on page one:

  • # Jay’O Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Nate: You are absolutley right about the drug war. A total waste of time, money and lives. I

  • @Nate

    that really sucks man. Sorry that happened to you.

    I’ve always thought the “War on Drugs” has undermined a lot of the progress we’ve made as a country on the issue of race because of the disparate treatment of minorities in the name of searching for drug dealers.

    I hope that this is something that can be improved in the next few years. The focus law enforcement should be on catching violent criminals.

    I really enjoy reading your posts for the perspective you bring to this forum.

  • Nate, you’ve clearly described the problem as you see it and I agree. But what are your suggestions?

    1. How do you propose to stop unmarried, unsupported young people from having babies in the future?

    2. What are we to do with the products of the above who are already teenagers and basically beyond saving?

  • Nate: You still aren’t understanding this proposed law. The order from the court has to be secured FIRST before MPD can round up people for violating it. It works like this, the US Attorney will identify an area, for example the alley behind 4th St NW at Varnum, identify individuals who are associated with illegal activity at that site, say Joe Blow & Biggie Shorts, and then Joe and Biggie will get a summons to appear in civil court (it’s basically a lawsuit) to argue their side. Joe & Biggie can show up and argue that they have a perfectly good reason to be hanging out in the alley at 10PM transferring small packages for money to shambling drug addicts, or not. After hearing the evidence the judge can then decided either to deny the petition or to enter an order forbidding people like Joe & Biggie from said activities at said location.

    If the order is in place then, and only then, can MPD arrest them for civil contempt should they continue to do business in that same alley. The order has to be narrowly tailored to a specific spot and the individuals would have notice that they have to move along before they get taken in.

    All this ACLU bullshit about “boys walking home from football practice” and the like is just that, bullshit. The ACLU’s gripes about this law are laughable. This is about one thing: chronic drug locations. You know it, I know it, and Mendelson knows it. This is a perfectly reasonable law and has worked in other jurisdictions. Only in DC would a politician like Mendelson have the balls to come down on the side of drug dealers.

  • I love how Nate magnanimously looks the other way at drug activity near his rental properties. One wonders if he’d be so hospitable if the same activity was going down behind his own house.

  • Anonymous
    Nate, you

  • @Columbia Heights Dude:
    “Petworth Guy: Step one: Pull head out of ass. Step two: Take a long walk in Petworth and CH. ”

    Alrighty then! I walk around the streets of Petworth and C.H. every day, taking it all in. I’m as disgusted by street crime as any other person who reads this blog. I don’t want to coddle and whisper sweet nothings to street criminals; I’d love nothing better than to go Dirty Harry on them myself.

    All I wrote is that passing more laws is not going to do a f*cking thing to stop a single crime. If the law enforcement agencies aren’t doing their job now, that ain’t going to change one little bit just because a new law is on the books. Anyone who thinks otherwise should pull his own head out of his ass and take a fresh breath of reality.

  • # Anonymous Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I love how Nate magnanimously looks the other way at drug activity near his rental properties. One wonders if he

  • From that Washingtonian article posted above:

    “What could police do to control gun crime better?

    ‘Use new and different methods,’ Mendelson says. ‘Foot beats. Bikes. Segways. Share statistics.'”

    Segways….this pretty much says it all…..

  • Here is what we are up against. There has to be hundreds of cases like this we never hear about.

    A Terrytown woman has been booked with child desertion and improperly supervising her son after authorities say the 3-year-old boy ingested cocaine when she went on a weekend drug binge.

    Heather Bubrig, 28, of 2732 Ridgefield Road was booked Monday with child desertion, improper supervision of a minor and illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a minor. Bubrig remains at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in lieu of $9,500 bond.
    The state’s case that a New Orleans mother handed her 17-year-old son a gun and told him to “go get” other young men who had beaten him up doesn’t hold water, the woman’s attorney told a Criminal District Court jury today in the opening minutes of her second degree murder trial.

  • Sure, the dealers can move in response to an injunction, but from what I understand about the crews (inasmuch as those that like to draw the difference between “crews” and “gangs” explain it to me), they largely are small-scale, territorial, and limited in area. If that’s the case, they aren’t going to move that much before street justice catches up with them when they try to deal on another crew’s turf.

    Odentex’s analysis of the civil injunction is right, and I would add that it has the benefit — for obtaining the injunction, anyway — of the civil liability standard rather than the more demanding “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of criminal law.

  • So Nate:

    Was that traffic stop/’violation of your rights’ before or after you were actually arrested for drug and illegal gun charges? Maybe they ran your plate and saw you had drug/firearms arrests?

  • “The problem is that the black community is comfortable with the level of violence in the city. They

  • # ontarioroader Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    So Nate:

    Was that traffic stop/

  • “I can tell you that black people are truly conflicted. We are tired of being on the receiving end of this failed drug war.”

    Exactly. The people who are most in favor of strong arm, take no prisoners police tactics are the people who are or view themselves as being least likely to be victimized by those tactics because they don’t “look” like criminals. I don’t have any interest in having to wear a suit or khakis and a button down shirt whenever I leave my home lest the police identify me as a gangbanger.
    It is true that most of the crime in this city is committed by young black males. It is also true that most of the young black males in this city are not committing crimes.
    There’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy aspect to all of this. Young people that are not doing anything wrong don’t like being viewed with suspicion or derision, especially by people who moved into their neighborhood five minutes ago. That’s part of the reason why so many of the good kids still have an edge to them because they recognized that they are presumed to be criminals.

  • hey ontarioroader you might have missed the part about how it was a RENTAL CAR.

  • # ontarioroader,
    And another thing. I have been arrested for marijuana 2X. The first time I bought some in Delaware Gardens in SW. The police watched people buy it for hours. And would arrest each person afterward. Not the dealers. Maybe they were arrested later. But the customers. It had to cost thousands for the time the cops were off the street, in court, etc. All for $20 of marijuana. During that time, not one white person was arrested.

    The second time I was at home. A lady had been calling the police on the drug dealer upstairs. The police came and just burst into my home. No warrant. And I was actually complying with the police. The result of their illegal search: Less than $5 of marijuana, a legally purchased shotgun and handgun kept locked in the privacy of my own residence. I was not under the influence or smoking any drugs when they came to my residence. In fact, I tested negative for all drugs the next day. Still, PW is no safer. CH is no safer. But now you have one more citizen that is now unwilling to help the police make our community safer. Lot of good the drug war has done. It has turned more people against law enforcement.

  • Sorry Nate, arrest number one sounds like good policing, and exactly what I want in my neighborhood. Drug “war” or no, street dealers and the users who patronize them are no good for the community.

  • # Anonymous Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Sorry Nate, arrest number one sounds like good policing, and exactly what I want in my neighborhood. Drug

  • I live in Calvert County, MD, and I was wondering with all the discussion and the talk about all the violence with DC gang, I have several questions to the group.

    How many relalated or just regular shootings are associated with DC gangs?

    Can some name some gangs in dc and where are they hanging out?

    When is the last time anyone saw a gang in CH or PW?

    If this is such a major issue, it seems a ‘gang summit’ would be in order hosted by the Chief to help educate and inform the residents in the City.

  • Nate: Nobody thinks that this won’t stop the drugs from possibly being sold somewhere else but it’ll damn sure stop them from being sold at a particular spot.

    You continue to change the subject and talk about making drugs legal while the rest of us would just prefer real world solutions. Congress can’t manage to equalize the crack cocaine punishment disparity even after the new Obama justice department has said they think it’s wrong. Politicians are not going to risk their seats to legalize drugs or even weaken penalties that much. We can all agree that such a thing might make sense in a fantasy world – and if you wanna form Nate’s Committee for Legal Smoke in DC I’ll contribute – but it isn’t going to happen.

    Same goes for the social problems of poor folk. Obviously any sane person wants to address these issues and try and make a better future for us all, but as with the drug war politics, addressing long term problems doesn’t do a thing about the continued trade on the corners.

    This law addresses the NOW issues of the people who are completely forgotten in this debate: those who obey the law, pay their taxes, and don’t want drug dealing going on outside their family’s home. You might not care about the drug trade going on around you, but people with children absolutely do. And if you are buying drugs on the street behind someone’s home you need to be arrested too. This is unacceptable behavior. Period. And these chronic sales spots need to be shut down now.

  • And just to add on to Anon. @ 5:13, the second arrest was really on you, too. If by “complying” with the police, you mean that you consented to a warrantless search, then it wasn’t illegal. Had it been, you need to get a better lawyer, because a suppression motion was in order and would have resulted in dropped charges. (And consenting when there is contraband on the premises … not the best choice. Legally purchased firearms aren’t necessarliy legally possessed or registered.)

    But my bigger point is this: it’s not bad policing just because you get caught breaking the law when someone else didn’t get caught. It is, in fact, good policing. Cops don’t write the laws, they enforce them. When they respond, investigate, find evidence, and arrest — well, that’s exactly what they should do. It’s sort of basic job performance. You don’t contend that you weren’t in violation of the law or were framed, you just don’t think much of the laws that you violated. This is not a reason to distrust police. It’s a strawman for a policy argument.

    But, to be fair, the expired tags thing … that’s just bullsh*t.

  • Bojokles, they aren’t those kinds of gangs. They are gangs, but they are too loosely knit to sometimes have a real leader who could speak for the others without the others telling him to shut up. That’s why it’s better (but harder) to use the term crew instead of gang.

  • Regarding the black community’s response to crime within the black community. Anyone thinking there’s an easy answer or even an easy description there is fooling themselves.

    1. I know decent law-abiding African-Americans who help me in my war on drug sales on our block
    2. I know decent law-abiding African-Americans who have told me that I should call the police on the dealers but they won’t because there are “too many brothers in prison already”
    3. I know decent law-abiding African-AmericanS as in plural who have told me to stop doing this because the mother of the criminals was described, “Poor Mrs. X, she’s got her cross to bear” as if that justifies ANYTHING
    4. I know not very decent African-Americans who told me they raised their son to stand up for himself if someone talks about him he “knows he has to handle it”
    5. I know a not very decent African-American who told me that all the newcomers do is complain about the state of DC schools but DC schools are just fine and learning and education won’t get you into heaven.

    I know that most African-American families who I’m friends with on my block talk about how they want crime reduced and want criminals off the streets so their children can play, but the question I ask you is this:

    Would you call the police and have your cousin arrested?

    A good friend of mine, name withheld, called the police AND family services on their cousin and the cousin’s children were surrendered to the ex-husband and the cousin served 3 months jail time because the cousin was back on heroin for the third time.

    Would you call the police on your cousin knowing their children would be taken away? If not, then you are scum who will live in a pile of filth and THAT’s the hardest thing to accept. For some people I’ve spoken to, it’s virtually IMPOSSIBLE to accept that’s what it takes to live crime-free.

  • think there is a contradiction here, which confuses my natural logic. Many of the people I have encountered in my neighborhood don

  • GSG wrote: “The people who are most in favor of strong arm, take no prisoners police tactics are the people who are or view themselves as being least likely to be victimized by those tactics because they don

  • “Would you call the police on your cousin knowing their children would be taken away? If not, then you are scum who will live in a pile of filth”

    This seems a bit harsh…..

  • there is a really thought provoking article in this week’s new yorker about a fascinating approach to ending gang violence that has been used in about 60 cities nationwide and typically cuts crime rates by 1/2 in the first year. It is most helpful against murders related to beefs (not the fucking muggers that infest this area) but a lot of you in columbia heights and shaw would probably be into it. i’ll send it to PoP when it becomes available online, i suspect it will provoke some discussion.

  • “Shed the same tired and soulless uniform everyone else wears and look at a suit. I

  • Carl Takei you are WRONG WRONG WRONG. Take your woman-hating misogyny to another city! You belong in the deep south where your brand of far-right conservatism is deemed liberal.

  • This seems a bit harsh

  • And by the way, there is no such thing as a good men

  • The most frustrating thing about this Blueprint is that it seems to only address “youth” violence. how many crews do you know where the members range in age from 16-25? I know crews where the leader is as old as 30. Is 30 a youth? Is this report total Bullsh*t for that obvious error? I think it is. I will let CM Graham know how I feel about it.

  • $99?!? What sort of ripoff is that? You can get a quality jacket for $39 (pants extry, at $9) here:

  • all joking aside Odentex, that’s actually pretty slick for $50 and for the additional $50 to tailor it, it would look incredibly sharp.

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