Dear PoPville – Would You Participate in a Columbia Heights Community Rally/Parade?

Photo by PoPville flickr user schmiddi

“Dear PoPville,

I’m a resident of Adams Morgan and my fiance is a resident in Columbia Heights so were are particularly aware of the crime that takes place in Ward 1. Reading all of the recent posts on the increased criminal activity, shootings, pipe violence, etc has lead me to think of options outside of just complaining on POP and other list serves. I highly doubt the thugs that are doing these atrocities read POP to see how enraged the communities are. Police presence has done little to combat the issue.

Therefore, I think it’s come a time where there needs to be active community presence via a “Operation Take Back the Streets” or “People of Columbia Heights March for Nonviolence” rally or parade up/down 14th street across to Sherman Ave or Georgia Ave or similar layout. This would be a show of visual nonviolent force that the residents are sick and tired of crime/violence in our community.

Could we post to gauge interest or peoples thoughts?”

48 Comment



  • I’ll march any day that is not over 95 degrees.

  • Only if I can dance in the parade.

  • I like the idea of taking action.

    But marches and rallies are meant to send a message to legislators, not criminals. Nonviolent force needs to come in another form to be called “force.”

    Get an organized, active and visible neighborhood watch. Arm everyone with whistles. Get everyone committed to watching out for each other, making a commotion, calling the police. Criminals need to feel like there’s always someone watching and that it’s harder and harder to get away with anything.

  • @2b3s that made me laugh. sadly, I agree.

  • I think what the residents of Columbia Heights need to rally for more is a BID. Every other commercial district in the city has a BID to assist in commercial business marketing, daily trash cleanup (which Columbia Heights really needs), upgraded landscaping, local festivals etc.

  • Also, I totally agree with MichelleRD when she said “Criminals need to feel like there’s always someone watching and that it’s harder and harder to get away with anything.”

    In 2010 I was physically assaulted by about five females and one male in the Mt. Vernon Metro station. A bunch of people watched, and I KNOW I was yelling loudly enough for the station manager to hear — but NO ONE did anything. After about 10 minutes they finally ran up the escalator and no one asked me if I was okay or needed help.

    So, I think we all need to start giving a s-h-i-t about our fellow DC residents and watch out. Right on, MichelleRD.

  • andy

    this is summer in DC. a parade will just be an opportunity for some dudes to get shot.

  • Rather than a formal parade, organize neighborhood walks at the hours of concerns (which might be hard to define…)

  • A BID was tried in Columbia Heights but 50% of the property owners have to vote to form it. GRID (At least at the time) was the biggest prop owner (DC USA) and did not choose to form a BID. BIDS/Mainstreets are great but most people do not realize how much continual money you need to either be assessing or raising or etc to make them functional. the City provides very little to Mainstreets anymore. thats why several have gone under in the last few years. BIDs also need to generate around 1 million/year just to operate and hire staff, cleaning crew, security and thats on the very low side. Smaller businesses on park rd etc will probably not want to vote themselves into paying additional taxes. Mount Vernon traingle is actually a CID and all residents or property owners pay an additional tas every year for those services.
    So to CH I would say, as residents are we willing to pay extra to form a CID? Maybe then Grid/target would get on board. (I have done a lot of work with these types of organizations so I have some idea what Im talking about).

  • I totally agree, a BID would be awesome. However, I know that in other BIDs, the big chain stores don’t tend to pay in, which could be a problem in CoHi. I don’t really know the ins and outs.

    Who could lead the charge in creating a BID? Graham? ANC?

  • Sounds like a perfect place to shoot people. Thanks for arranging to get them all in one place.

  • What about just a big rally up by the fountain where they have the farmer’s market. Will attract attention if you get enough people.

    • Attention to what and from whom, though? As noted up-thread, it’s not exactly like the people committing these crimes see a parade of law-abiding citizens and think “Oh crap, they’re taking these streets back from us!” Now you force a few council-members out there and put a mike in their hand and demand they tell the gathered masses just why we should continue to keep the laws for juvenile offenders as-is, then you might get somewhere.

  • MichelleRD: “Arm everyone with whistles.”?? What about with switchblades?

  • I wouldn’t bother with something like this. It’s a one-day (or a few-hour) event, after which everyone can go home all proud of themselves for doing something for the cause. But the reality hasn’t changed any. People need to be willing to step up on a continual basis, not just for a couple of hours on a Saturday or something. Even I’m guilty of not necessarily putting my money where my mouth is; sometimes I/my family just have so much else going on that the last thing I want to do is add one more thing to the list.

    Also, I feel like there’s a whole lot of apathy amongst my neighbors who rent/live in group houses–there are quite a few on either side of me. They are horrified when something happens nearby, but they don’t do the little things that keep the cops coming around our block. I can think of several specific instances where they said, basically, that calling the cops wasn’t worth it or was a waste of time. In contrast, my husband and I often call the police over smaller, quality-of-life type issues just to keep certain people/houses/areas on the radar. I don’t know how to overcome that kind of apathy, both from people who don’t seem to be as invested in the community as we are/try to be and from people who are justifying real crime as a “mistake” by a “good kid.” Overall, it just seems like a losing battle and a parade or rally isn’t going to rally people who already can’t be bothered to do the little, day-to-day stuff.

    • The owner-renter divide is for real, but it’s taboo to write about because renters will start to get very upset.

      Renters on my street barely pick up their heads when they walk by. The owners have their own listserv and potluck dinners and take vacations together.

      • And exactly how much effort have the owners made to get the renters involved?

        How many of your neighborhood renters’ doors have you personally knocked on, letting them know about the listserv or inviting them to dinner?

        When you create two different classes of people—”owners” and “renters,” the latter of whom are assumed to be short-term people who don’t want to get to know their neighbors or care about the quality of life—don’t be surprised when the renters don’t feel like they’re part of the neighborhood.

        • The divide I’m talking about has existed since there was law in the west. Some people own land, some don’t. With the glaring exception of communism, property owners tend to be more involved in civics than people who don’t own property. Knocking on doors isn’t going to change something so fundamental.

          Also, who’s got time to knock on doors? You want to be friendly, be friendly. I’m not going to force you.

          • So what you’re saying is that you and the other owners are going to continue to have your own listserv and potluck clique and make absolutely no effort to include the renters in the neighborhood, and then you’re going to keep complaining about renters “barely picking up their heads when they walk by” and not caring about the neighborhood.

            There’s another divide that’s existed since there was law in the west, which is that the people who own property tend to be the people who can afford to buy property. There’s a class divide, particularly as Columbia Heights gentrifies, between the established professionals who can afford houses that cost $300k at minimum, and the young folks or working-class folks who can’t afford to buy them.

            But if the owners are going to pretend like they’re automatically “more involved in civics” and better citizens, even going to the point of having their own exclusive email lists, dinners, and social groups, then they don’t have any place to complain when renters act like they’re not really part of the neighborhood. Your attitude makes it clear that as an owner, you don’t want the renters to feel like they’re really part of the neighborhood. Which I suppose you have a right to do, but don’t pretend you can do that and still have a leg to stand on when you turn around and accuse renters of not being involved in the neighborhood.

          • You’re validating my initial point.

            And I’m not denying there’s a class divide. But the fundamental fact is that people who own homes are much more financially and emotionally invested in their neighborhoods than people who are in month-to-month leases. It’s just a fact, Jack.

            No one’s preventing renters from being involved. They’re just not as interested. It makes sense why. But, as I wrote above, pointing it out leads to this sort of vitriol.

          • Where are you seeing vitriol here? I’m just pointing out the logical consistencies here: your attitude that owners are superior to renters and thus entitled to treat renters as if they’re not truly part of the neighborhood will tend to lead to renters feeling as if they’re not truly part of the neighborhood.

            If you want renters to invest their time and energy into getting to know their neighbors, you’re going to have to take the first step. You can’t expect them to take the first step, when you’ve already set up a system in which you’ve either implicitly or explicitly said that renters aren’t welcome.

            I also question your suggestion that renters aren’t invested in the neighborhood; while it’s true that we don’t have a whole bunch of money wrapped up in the value of the property in Columbia Heights (mostly due to our not having a whole bunch of money anywhere), it’s not like the burglars are checking the deed before they break into a house to make sure it’s owner-occupied, or asking you for proof of ownership before they mug you to make sure you’re not just renting. We’ve all got an emotional and physical investment in a neighborhood in which we can be secure in our homes and be safe on our sidewalks and in our local businesses.

            Just because I can’t afford a house in Columbia Heights doesn’t make me any less a citizen. Offer renters a chance to get involved in the community – not just in community meetings and the like, but in getting to know their neighbors informally – and I think you’ll be surprised at how many of them take advantage of the opportunity. But if you keep acting as if owners are the only people who are really part of the neighborhood and renters are a second class of citizens who don’t quite belong, don’t be surprised when renters act and think exactly as your attitude is telling them to.

          • Look James, I never claimed I was superior to you, and I haven’t set up any system. And I don’t “keep” acting in any sort of manner. I made a comment saying that pointing out the differences in behaviors on my street on this blog would be met by someone like you, who seems to be claiming some sort of conspiracy between owners on a given block. Just as robbers don’t check deeds, I don’t check the deeds of people who walk by when I’m watering my lawn. Some are more friendly than others, and there’s a trend.

            It’s just a fact that I’m less likely to see people who don’t own property at 3rd District Police meetings or crime meetings at La Cabana. Come if you want, but I suspect you won’t. I also suspect that I don’t have much more money than you, I only chose to practically bankrupt myself by purchasing a rowhouse in what may have been a terrible decision. You’re hung up on this class argument that I’m not making. You’re fighting a straw man.

          • +1 Most of the renters are young and know they will be in “this” neighborhood temporarily. The point is that most of the renters have not INVESTED much in the nieghorhood, and when there are problems just leave. Home owners on the other hand have made an investment in the neighborhood and can’t so easily just leave when the going gets tough!

  • I’m an owner and live with my renters. We are all friends and actually grill out with our next door neighbors who are renters. We do not interact with our next-door neighbors that are owners. In fact, I tried to be-friend the owners next door by taking over a bottle of champagne and introducing myself. I haven’t heard or seen much of them since.

  • I think it is a great idea.

  • I probably will never frequent community meetings or something similar but a one time parade?

    I can definitely get behind that. This is a good idea.

  • There was an anti-street harassment parade held last month, and it was a great experience, albeit one with a few kinks (read the piece).

    I think a parade/rally is a great idea. Is the person who posed the question the one interested in leading this?

  • You fools. None of you has the energy to see anything through to completion. The guardian angels are begging for volunteers every weekend but always seem to come up short. Why is that if everyone cares so much about violence? It’s because you care, but not enough to give up the other 8 hours of the day to do something about it. So in essence, you don’t really care until it hits your friends, your family, or some location that you traverse. As long as it’s in poor neighborhoods you can just tsk tsk and blame capitalism or racism or whatever ism makes you feel better about not lifting a finger to help.

    And it’s a perfectly sane reaction to the world. Since the beginning of time, societies have designated people to look after everyone’s safety. We call them police. We pay them handsomely (Well, the detail work anyway) and give them amazing retirement packages. That’s so everyone else can get on with the business of supporting society with their labor. But you have to actually use the power of the police and the courts to make the society you want. You can’t sit around and say “oh well throwing someone in jail doesn’t help them get out of poverty”. Crap man, they don’t want out of poverty, they just want to control other people with their violence. You can’t pretend you’re going to take the time to “teach” them how to be normal well adjusted members of society. You’re not, you’re too lazy. And besides, no one who’s using violence as a method to gain power is going to listen to your 3 part essay on why violence is wrong.

    I don’t know. People need to wake up and stop allowing their neighbors to be victimized by half baked political philosophies like “there’s no legislated solution to crime”.

    Empower your cops to catch criminals and pass laws to keep repeat offenders –of any age– in prison until they can mature.

    • you took a lot of words to not say very much.
      but you’re right, i don’t want to volunteer for the guardian angels with “the other 8 hours of my day”.

      thanks for trying to make us feel oh so bad though. i guess that was your only point, huh?

    • Calling everyone fools and then admitting “I don’t know” is poor rhetoric. I wonder if you even live where this is an issue or have any experience with people in our community at all.

  • What about establishing an Orange Hat Citizen Patrol Group or joining one if it exists?

  • I would participate.

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