“No stabbing, no murder, no drive-by, just secret dance party” From a Reader

police band columbia road 012, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Ed. Note: On Friday, I walked by this section of Columbia Road but did not return home in time to blog about it. I did give my card to a Police Officer and requested that she tell me about similar events in the future.

The reader writes:

“One of the best events over the weekend was also one of the saddest. A super street party with a great live band, a peaceful neighborhood dance party that unfortunately no one in the city, or most of the neighborhood even knew about! It was taking place on Columbia Rd. at 14th St. Fri. evening, not 100 yards from my back door, but I only discovered it when I had to take the dog out. (I heard music earlier, but I was working, and loud music on a summer night isn’t unusual from over there.)

This was a major event – part of the “safe streets” campaign, with a flatbed truck stage and a really fine 7-8 member band made entirely of talented cops! I hung out until they ended around 9 and there were never more than maybe 200 people, all pretty much from the adjacent 2 blocks. None of my neighbors on Irving St. had heard of it. There were no flyers posted, no notices taken door-to-door, no email from any of the various email lists, nothing from Jim Graham’s office (and you know he’s quick on the email draw when it comes to shootings!) no mention on any of the neighborhood blogs, nothing in the Post. I had driven down Columbia Rd. at 2 that afternoon and had no idea anything was about to happen.

police band columbia road 028

Columbia Road is a major street, and you don’t put something like this together in a week! I spoke to an officer, (I believe she was actually the assistant police chief) who admitted that they had kind of dropped the ball in that department. I spoke to another couple of officers who had helped organize the event, and neither were really aware of neighborhood blogs or listserves and had never heard of Prince of Petworth, DCist, Columbia Heights News or any others.

Here was a brilliant opportunity for our diverse community to come together in a really fun event and it was sad to see it overlooked. I know there are a lot of people in PoP land who are always looking for ways to make our good life a little better, this might be a great opportunity for someone to volunteer with the police dept. to be a sort of blog & neighborhood list-group co-ordinator/liaison.

I’m also curious about why, in the hour that I was there, I saw almost no-one from “outside” – (well, no other way to put it – no white people) join the fun. The music had to have been heard all around the DC-USA area and it was a lovely night with people outside. Did anyone stroll down a block and check it out? If not, why not?”

police band columbia road 030

20 Comment

  • Maybe nothing bad happened, because nobody knew about it.

  • And about 48 hours later an armed robbery on the same block:

    Robbery Gun_2209 hours_1300 block Columbia Road, NW_LOF 3 suspects; S-1 B/M wearing blue jeans and a black shirt; S-2 B/M ; S-3 B/F DO NOT TAKE ACTION CALL 911 W/EVENT #I20090410037, Sent on: 07/26 22:23

  • This is great! Thanks to the reader for sharing it with us.

  • I love their tree t-shirts.

  • National Night Out is coming up and the police bands play there too. I find that the lack of publicity of these events belies a certain kind of illiteracy on the part of the cops.

  • I walked by there on Friday at around 5pm and again around 9pm, and I didn’t see anything. Are you sure it was last friday? It must have been quick.

  • Maybe no whites were there because they are considered “outside” people.

  • Do all events have to produce a diverse showing?

  • No one heard about it. The only way I found out was after the fact when I inquired on PoP why Columbia Rd was closed between 14th & 13th. It was causing a major traffic jam at rush hour because traffic for Columbia was detoured onto 13th. None of my friends heard anything at all. I also find it disturbing that the cops never heard of any of the neighborhood blogs. How in the world in this day and time can you police an area without knowing what’s going on and what’s on people’s minds.

  • 10:14- what if I told you that an officer I knew didn’t own a computer of her own? would that change your opinion of their need to read blogs? She doesn’t own a computer.

  • Readership on this blog and other similar websites is a very, very small percentage of the people that live in CH, Petworth and surrounding neighborhoods.

  • The PSA 302 liason reads PoP

  • Vonstallin

    They should have sent a message to all the radio stations. Most times the stations will shot out the information for free.

    When I was in Elem n JHS the police band was badass!!! they would play at raymond field and other playgrounds and I remember them playing at my school also.

    Havent heard them playing since late 80’s.
    It made me look at cops differently as a kid.

    Good to see them back and for a good cause.

  • I think it is sad that an organizer cannot put on a block party event without it being called a failure.

    Why does it have to be a “major event’? Why does the entire community have to participate for an event to be a success–are block parties not acceptable? Why are 200 people at any given moment (and probably more total that didn’t stay the whole night to be counted by the reader) not enough? Why can’t you “put something like this on in a week” and if you didn’t, so what?

    It sounds like it was a fun time for the people who live there and that seems to have been the point, which means it was a success.

    The MPD DOES have community liaisons and they have online discussion groups that anyone can participate in (they have been around since 2006).

    And if there is any blame to be laid, I don’t think it lies solely with MPD. The sign next to the stage says “District of Columbia Parks and Recreation” which means the event was at least co-sponsored, if not entirely sponsored by DCPR.

  • If not having any stabbings or shootings is a notable achievement of a CH block party, then that’s why I would avoid it.

  • Guy with the green bottle: Hot.

  • @Anon 3:03 : ditto!!

  • @Anon July 27th, 2009 at 11:03 am – and thank goodness for that!

  • The title to this post is pretty bad. I find it disturbing that the anonymous commenter was “disturbed” that the police didn’t know of neighborhood blogs. Perhaps this is because the vast majority of people in the immediate Columbia Heights area aren’t Young Urban Professionals who spend their time writing and reading blogs about the economic development in the neighborhood. I’m guessing reading neighborhood blogs about area development is a pretty piss poor way for a police officer to reach out and make connections to a skeptical population.

    Having a block party for community members is probably a much better way. I would think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t blown up on the internet and in the blogosphere because it is a BLOCK party. You know, for folks on THAT BLOCK. We should all try to realize that neighborhood identity can be very narrowly defined and folks welcome on one block may not be welcome on the next.

    A party that had all of Columbia Heights there would have been counterproductive to what I imagine to be the mission of the event, to do some good PR and forge some relationships on that block, you know the one that you all bitch about and never walk past on the way to the metro and then when a party happens you bitch that you weren’t invited.

    If you wrote an article about my block and titled it “There were no highly stereotypical racial behaviors going on, just a dance party I wasn’t invited to” I certainly would be inclined to not invite you the next time either.

    Yes a lot of violence happens on that block, do you think it’s everybody? Do you think the vast majority of people on that block aren’t scared shitless either? How many white young professionals have been killed on that block? I’m not sure but I’d venture to say it’s close to 0. The people that live on that block are the ones who are rightfully scared.

    Fuck you all for feeling entitled to be there, all you do is talk shit on that block the other 364 days a year.

  • Well said The Kid. I hope POP is more careful in the future about screening out this sort of judgmental, stereotyping commentary when posting. It would have been nice if this were limited to just highlighting the concert as a really positive event and a pleasant surprise and kudos were given to the police for the initiative.

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