Photo by PoPville flickr user Jess J
A warrant was issued for one of the group of men involved in the violent assault of Ian Barry and Saul Leiken, two City Bikes employees who were cycling home at 2am in Adams Morgan, just in time for the 2am revelers to hit the streets. We have had previous experience with a felony warrant issued across inter-jurisdictional lines and it took three months for Maryland and the District databases to speak to each other.
The incident is only one of a steady increase in crime. In fact, 2011 has seen the first rise in crime after a major downward trend. Speaking with both the MPD and a trustworthy source who has grown up in the neighborhood, there is an increasing problem with gangs coming in from across state lines to take advantage of inebriated naïve visitors, who wander off the beaten path, forget where their cars are parked, or are taking silly short-cuts down back alley ways or parks.
According to the Lt who manages the 303 precinct, there is no other jurisdiction in D.C. that houses the number of bars with the same kind of density as 18th Street. There are only eight officers for the entire area which runs from 16th Street to U Street to Connecticut Avenue, around Adams Mill Road across Irving and back to 16th Street. If an arrest is made, the officer can be pulled off the beat for up to two hours while filling out paperwork.
So what has this to do with Ian and Saul? Ian and Saul were bicycling in highly visible spot. They were in a bicycle lane, both were wearing helmets, both were obeying the rules of the road when Ian was hit and flew into a windshield, then onto the ground. Saul was kicked in the head five times, each of which could be a potential death blow.
So what is the story? Two cyclists hit and then assaulted? That wasn’t enough interest for a major story. A rise in increased gang violence? That can’t be substantiated, unless you talk to the MPD. We have at least five other incidents we have witnessed in the past two weeks, but our neighbors on the other side of Columbia don’t want to allow the possibility that it could soon cross the road.
At the Adams Morgan BID meeting, one of the MPD officers brought crime stats. They are up more than a significant amount. They have about tripled. So what does the story become now? Gangs crossing State lines, to prey on naïve drunks emerging from bars at 2am, because they know how difficult it is to prosecute? And what is this doing to the gangs that already live in the neighborhood? Are they going to sit peacefully while other gangs come in and move into their neighborhood?
The bars on 18th Street bring in great traffic and character to Adams Morgan. It would be a shame if the scene was diminished because of the fear of gang violence.
Saul was saved when a bystander made it clear he had a video camera and a fake taser gun. Not sure the fake taser was a good idea as studies show that carrying weapons can always escalate matters. And then there is also the question of what would have happened if they guy had seen the video camera sooner? He might have done the same as he did for Saul for calling the police.
CEO of City Bikes”