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Terrible Shooting at 14th and Fairmont

by Prince Of Petworth August 18, 2008 at 11:20 pm 143 Comments


Yikes, I hadn’t heard about this until a reader sent in some photos and video. What an insane scene. The reader writes:

“They are photos of the immediate aftermath of the gun battle/scuffle that happened on Fairmont Street on Saturday. I counted at least a dozen shots. MPD/USSS responded en force pretty quickly. I counted at least three people who were carted away.”

Another reader writes in to let folks know about a meeting on Wed. to discuss the shooting:

“I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind mentioning the next meeting of the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association Meeting in your blog. It will be this Wednesday, 8/20 at 7pm at the Josephine Butler Parks Center, 2437 15th St, NW. Ward 1 CM Jim Graham will be there to discuss this incident, as will MPD Police Chief, Cathy Lanier and Neicy Jones, who will represent the Faircliff Apartments, an epicenter of neighborhood trouble.”

Check out the disturbing video footage caught by a reader:

Thankfully suspects were apprehended. Did anyone else witness this event?

Comments (143)

  1. Totally heard that on Saturday. I was just walking into my building at 16th and Euclid when I heard what sounded like quite a firecracker fusillade. It was different enough that I figured it had to be gunfire. Any fatalities? Can’t find anything in the Washington Post.

  2. Is this the same one where the people living in the building attacked the police to try to allow the shooters to get away? Scum. There, I said it.

  3. Parkwood Person

    Sad to see what’s going on in that part of the neighborhood. Seems to be an ongoing thing in that Euclid/Fairmont area between 13-16th, no? It’s too bad because it could be a really nice area- lots of beautiful old homes, close to the park etc. Glad to see that they caught the guy.

  4. Too many Section 8 (?) buildings bunched together into a small area. And disgusting anti-Police culture to boot.

  5. If only we had more community centers and fewer wine bars, this wouldn’t happen. Oh wait a second, there is a gorgeous, gleaming new community center only blocks away … (sorry, couldn’t resist) …

    The problem is, as others have said, obvious: WAY too high a concentration of Section 8 housing; that model has failed in every city it’s been tried in, and D.C. has to go the way of Chicago which exploded Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor homes. This is very valuable real estate, moreso now than ever. Sell the land to developers on the condition that they have to provide housing for [x] percent of the former tenants (but only those with NO criminal history, they should be rewarded). Use the money to create more mixed-income housing, which is more dispersed, rather than this ugly concentration of poverty, gang violence, and anti police sentiment. As long as these apartments remain wholly section 8 housing, and the anti-policy, anti-white, anti-women, anti-job, anti-snitch anti-law abiding citizen mentality remains, this cycle of violence will never end.

  6. Somebody should probly send that photo to MPD. Isn’t that evidence?

  7. This is an outrage. Fortunately, I was out of town this weekend. I’ve lived at 13th & Girard for 4 years now, and this is way too frequent an occurrence. I’m glad they caught the people involved and I truly hope they get a harsh punishment. I’m sick of over paying in rent and having to worry about walking home from the metro. It’s disgusting!!!

  8. “As long as these apartments remain wholly section 8 housing, and the anti-policy, anti-white, anti-women, anti-job, anti-snitch anti-law abiding citizen mentality remains, this cycle of violence will never end.”

    Amen to that.

  9. In_the _Heights

    Jim Graham needs to back off on his stupid support of the section 8 buildings. I plan on going to the meeting on Wednesday and giving him a piece of my mind. Please join me!! I vote, I donate to campaigns, and I pay taxes. Screw these criminal scum.

  10. Anonymous,
    Are you sure it is the section 8 buildings or the people living in the buildings? I would be more exact and say that there are too many young male african americans with no respect for others. I mean if we are going to discuss it, let’s be honest here. Almost all of the problems in this city, are due to young black men robbing, raping, killing, shooting, refusing to work, and just being outright bad citizens.

    Now this does not mean all blacks are bad. Nor does it mean that the government is absolved of some of the things it has done to blacks. But at some point, black people need to stand up and stand down the bad guys in our community. We can not continue to expect the white people to do it. It’s not their problem. They will move first. Same for the Hispanics.

  11. nate,

    Your assessment seems correct, but how does the community effectively “stand up and stand down the bad guys”? The first answer most people will offer are “job programs”, “better education” and ironically, “more community centers” as these young men have no education credentials and no idea (and interest) how to pursue employment and function in a job.

    Let’s say they miraculously did stop killing, robbing, etc (which would be amazing, of course) – then what would they do? Probably go to “job programs”, “”community centers”, etc.

    It’s a circular phenomenon and some additional, basic concept seems missing from a true solution.

  12. In_the _Heights

    The city has built the community centers, has job training programs, has vocational ed in high school, these folks just refuse to use the existing programs. I can’t tell how many times I’ve gone by the local community centers and seen them empty and unused. I’m all for these programs, but these people (the residents of the faircliff buildings) don’t use them.

  13. I walked over there right after it happened. There were a bunch of shots fired, then some people jumped into that blue car in the video, and there was a big fight with police. Some people speculated that the mob was trying to distract the police from whoever had done the shooting.

  14. Damir noted that s/he couldn’t find anything in the WashPost about the shooting. The paper did actually cover it, only in the short, easy-to-miss Regional Briefings segment:

    Man Arrested in NW Shooting

    A 22-year-old man was arrested in a shooting Saturday night in Northwest Washington that left an unidentified man with a gunshot wound to the hand, D.C. police said.

    Police said the shooting occurred about 7:30 p.m. at 14th and Fairmont streets NW in Columbia Heights. After receiving a tip, police arrested Bernard Thomas of the 700 block of Girard Street and charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon, D.C. police spokesman Quintin Peterson said.

    The victim, whose name and age were not disclosed, was treated at Howard University Hospital.

  15. Please take a look at the following article, prepared with input by a lengthy list of housing experts before pointing the finger at Section 8 housing. This was written in response to the Atlantic article you may have seen, which draws the connection between former public housing residents and increased crime: http://www.shelterforce.org/article/special/1043

  16. Geezer,
    I am not so naive as to think the killing will stop. But I do think that black people can improve their lot a bit. Not much because I think much of it is cultural and that takes centuries to change.

    Jobs programs are cop outs. It is intellectually lazy and dishonest. I guarantee you that this shooting was not due to a lack of jobs. I can almost surely guarantee you that the guy involved in the shooting was not frustrated from his lack of finding a job.

    Nor is more education funding the issue. You could send many of these kids to school in the Taj Mahal and their results would barely improve.

    We have to admit that much of the culture is corrupted in the black community. Until then we will keep throwing money and resources at a problem that is not due to lack of funding. For those of you on this board that truly want to be honest with yourself, just ask yourself how many races of people idolize thug culture (going to jail, robbing people, selling dope) the way that black people do? How many races of people call themselves derisive names? Call the women bitc%es? How many races of people would allow thugs to do this in their community without stopping this by any means necessary?

    How you reorient the culture of a race of people is beyond me. Assuming there are more good hardworking blacks than bad blacks in DC (I am starting to think the numbers are about even), the good blacks have to isolate themselves from the bad blacks.

    That would require us to force our council to stop coddling these gangsters. Take the handcuffs off the police to be more proactive. Force our representatives to get rid of this destructive welfare policies.

    Of course there will be some collateral damage. Police brutality. Wrongful arrests. Some children being neglected. The downside is that if black people don’t do something drastic, the Hispanics and white people are going to isolate us. And they won’t be so kind as to differentiate between the good blacks and the bad ones.

  17. Why do we treat these animals as people? Give me a gun, and then get me out of here!

  18. Memphis is a cesspool of crime. I’m offended that you would compare even the worst DC neighborhood to it.

  19. nate,

    I wasn’t calling you naive and I agree with your cultural assessment, except for your suggestion that 50% of blacks are not law-abiding, but that’s not really the point…

    The point is that your, and my admission, that “reorient the culture of a race of people” is beyond knowing, although you do suggest that we “take the handcuffs off the police” and “get rid of this destructive welfare policies.” I don’t mean to sound combative, but I’m not sure what these generalities mean and if we want things (and people) to change, we’ll have to get down to specifics. That’s how “coddling” council and law enforcement agencies to enact new policy.

    One thing is clear in our corner of the world – Columbia Heights Village is creating and harboring a concentrated criminal element that is harming the rest of us. I’d like to hear from others about what specifically can, and should be done to improve this situation.

  20. How many of the folks complaining mentor an at-risk student or child? How many offer to give talks or demonstrations of skills at the housing complexes? How many who own businesses offer to train and employ at-risk youth? How many volunteer their time at after-school programs or tutoring programs?

    I’m sure some do, I’m guessing most don’t. I’d love to be proven wrong.

    Many will write off this message because it comes from me or they’ll see it as preaching. But what I’m trying to get across is that we, meaning ALL of us, who live in this neighborhood are a community. Simply spouting off frustration at the bad apples and the politicians isn’t nearly as helpful as understanding that the community goes as all of us go, and if we ignore those who need help the most, or continue to marginalize them, or wish them away, or do nothing to actually help them, we get what we get.

  21. According to a DC police officer I know, one of the biggest problems they face is that they simply aren’t allowed to go undercover very often. The DC gov feels that uniformed officers “make an impression”. My officer friend went on to say that “bloodied and handcuffed thugs make more of an impression”.

  22. I recall someone (was it Nate?) giving an explanation that made it pretty clear to me that the landlords of these buildings have no incentive to get rid of non-paying residents, thugs etc. as the rent revenue is pretty much guaranteed regardless by the City. That HAS TO change. The landlords have to start feeling a financial pain (a big nasty pain in their behinds if need be) in case they let these people continue to live there. Sure, regulation has to change to make that happen – that’s what Jim Graham and others need to work on, perhaps?

  23. “Your assessment seems correct, but how does the community effectively “stand up and stand down the bad guys”? ”

    hmm, well start by calling the police…the no snitching thing drives me crazy

    There was a homicide on my street last year and a neighbor told me that “everyone knows who did it”. But to my knowledge no one has been arrested. If I had any idea myself of course I would call the police!

  24. If you looked at a police force controlled and funded and ordered around by a constituency of people that looked at you and your neighbors as “animals” that need to be locked up and/or sent away, would you want to cooperate with the police on anything? Really?

    I’m not saying it’s right to protect murderers, it’s obviously not. But the us versus them thing that is prevalent in the minds of seemingly everyone is more harmful than helpful.

  25. Re: Mentoring, as a white guy with mad computer skills I tried this once and was pretty much told that whites weren’t welcome in the program. I understand the mentality and admire it to a certain extent, but wonder if its really the way to go.

    Re: poor reporting on the Post, I really hate this and have written the Ombudsman numerous times. Its clear that, with some of the lowest adult literacy in the nation and highest poverty, the Post simply takes the Washington name and then reports on the burbs. Bastards. I use a combination of WTOP online, DC Examiner, DC MPD site, and then the Washington Post to learn the tactical sort of information necessary for safely navigating areas.

    Re: Section 8, its a Federal program I believe, and yes helps create the modern SLAVE. Together with Mayor For Life Barry of course.

  26. Word, DCDireWolf.

    I live 3 blocks from the shooting and agree that the best way to punch through the world view of someone embedded in this type of social network is through one-on-one interaction.

  27. In_the _Heights

    I pay my taxes, that alone gives me the right to complain and demand more. Period. But, I have volunteered, I donate to local non-profits, blah blah blah. None of that matters, the fact that I’m a tax-paying homeowner is all that matters. Shouldn’t you be out selling kites to these hoodlums?

  28. I should just ignore that last comment, but . . .

    Sure, you have a right to complain, whether or not you pay taxes. Sure, you have a right to demand more, whether or not you pay taxes.

    My point is that complaining and demanding does very little good. Change comes from real, personal, intervention and care for those who are committing the bad acts. Not contempt.

  29. “that the landlords of these buildings have no incentive to get rid of non-paying residents, thugs etc. as the rent revenue is pretty much guaranteed regardless by the City. That HAS TO change”

    Although the district has ham-handedly done this in other areas, the best thing to do to tamp down on violence at these apartments would be to start controlling access to the buildings via ID cards, barring extended stays for people “just visitin'”, guards at the perimeter, fencing to deter easy access for loiterers and dealers, and cameras pointed directly at areas where people congregate (across and next to the gas station on Euclid for example) where schenanigans are happening. If it is economically viable, they should hire off-duty MPD to patrol the grounds just like CVS, Giant, Target, and Harris Teeter (but since they don’t, I’m guessing its not).

    Too bad ‘community activists’ and others will scream at the top of their lungs that it’s racist/classist/etc. to put conditions on crime-ridden taxpayer-funded housing.

  30. Change comes from moving to a better place. That has always been the American way.

  31. all good points…but something about the continued references to “these people” is very disturbing , to me anyway .

  32. Oregonian: Sorry to sound so jaded, but you haven’t been here long, have you?

  33. It’s not the landlords. Believe me. Let’s say the shooter was a resident in a Section 8 household. If the landlord does not read the paper or this blog, how would he know about this? DC MPD is not going to inform him. The tenant won’t. The landlord and Section 8 program is easy to blame. But the root of the problem is the people.

    Most of the councilmembers are going to protect these people to the end. Why? Well my thoughts are that there are more of them than people like me. If you are a councilmember representing Wards 4,5,7,8, you get more votes pushing job training and more school funding than personal responsibility, tough sentencing, and strict welfare policies. These are more measurable stats.

    The more affluent black people in DC are essentially in PG County. Sure there are some in Ward 7, but they are outnumbered by the apathetic and bad blacks. As a result, the tone of the black councilmembers is taken from their voting base even if it doesn’t seem right to them.

  34. Obvious Solution

    “Change comes from moving to a better place. That has always been the American way.”

    In this case, change comes from moving people to a better place. That place would be Prince George’s County.

  35. I think there is some confusion about “Section 8” and traditional public housing. Section 8 is a voucher program that allows income qualified persons to rent private residences and apartments with a subsidy, i.e. they can live anywhere a landlord has a participating property. The “high concentration” in CH has a lot to do with dense traditional garden style and high rise public housing, i.e. everyone there is on assistance.

    As far as what to do about the problems associated with piling thousands of poor folk on top of each other, this is a problem that goes back at least to the debates in the Senate of Roman Republic about clearing the slums in ancient times. With over a million people crammed into the city, rioting mobs easily overwhelmed the small police force and ran rampant through the streets. The wealthy hired private armies, and some reformers suggested clearing the slums, suspending rents, and trying to find the plebs some work (sound familiar?). Nothing was done at the time of course, partly because leading lights of reason like Cicero were slum lords profiting off the rents. Graccus eventually proposed distributing government land to the plebs (an “ownership society”!) and the Senate lynched him for his troubles. These proposal were batted around, talked about, and debated for about 100 years until a fella named Caesar showed up, took down the Republic once and for all, and became the first rock star (“it’s better to burn out than fade away.”)

    ‘Course nothing was ever done about the plebs being piled on top of each other in poverty.

    Sure, there are some horror stories out there about how Memphis has been turned into a cess pool all because of those evil Section 8 vouchers… but maybe, just maybe, Memphis wasn’t so fuggin’ great before (it has seemed equally stinky every time I’ve visited). I don’t think Section 8 is the answer to poverty because I am not sure there IS an answer to poverty, but there are certainly some ideas that are worse than others, and housing blocks like those in CH don’t seem to be working. The NIMBY reaction to Section 8 is understandable, but unless you have another workable solution, Section 8 is the best option from a whole basket of bad news.

    But who knows, maybe there is someone reading this blog that is smarter than Cicero and Graccus and has it all figured out…

  36. As for tutoring, there was on a man on 1st and R I think. His murder was profiled in the Post. He tutored. He ran a store that would shut down to go see the kids play sports because their parents would not show. He was savagely robbed and shot in his store. No witnesses came forward.
    As a black man, I know there are some young black boys out here that will blow my head off. To hell with a reason. And noone will say a word.

    I go in and out of the homes of “these people”. Tutoring won’t help. Mentoring won’t help. Many of these kids need to be taken from their homes. Unfit parents in an unfit household outweighs an hour or two of tutoring.

  37. I am always amazed that when conversations about crime take place, education hardly gets a mention, it’s all about hunting down the thugs. People become criminals for simple economic reasons: it offers a better reward than legal alternatives. No amount of police enforcement or change that fundamental fact, and no matter how many criminals you lock up, there will always be more to replace them. This problem cannot be solved through policing, it needs to be solved by addressing the root of the problem: a huge subculture that does not have the resources to succeed within the rules of our society.

    We need to make an investment in dealing with the source of the problem and stop trying to plug the holes in the dam. Our school system sucks ass, and is creating generation after generation of kids with no opportunities. Yet nobody seems to care about that when crimes happen, they just want a quick fix – more police. Too bad it doesn’t fix anything.

  38. O.S., if “a better place” = PG County……God help us all. Sadly, you’re probably right.

  39. You dissin Cicero and Graccus!!!????

  40. Jamie, flaw in your logic: “People become criminals for simple economic reasons: it offers a better reward than legal alternatives. No amount of police enforcement or change that fundamental fact,….”

    Yes, crime offers better “pay” than legal alternatives in DC. But that’s only because your chances of getting caught are slim to none, and if caught, you get a joke sentence.

    The “cost of doing business” for criminals is extremely low in DC.

  41. Jamie,
    You say that DC schools suck ass. Why do you think DC/Detroit/Memphis/Newark/Baltimore/Birmingham/Atlanta Schools suck ass? What is your reasoning behind why they suck?

  42. jail time as a disincentive for criminal activity has been proven time and time again to not be true. low income kids committing crimes are never scared of long prison terms, no matter how active the police force is.

  43. Jaime: DCPS currently gets the third highest per-capita funding for a public school system in the nation (over $13K per kid) and the results are clear. Resources, time, effort on the part of taxpayers, teachers, and politicians doesn’t amount to a thing if a kid isn’t in school or a kid is otherwise distracted by non-school events. School isn’t going to replace a set of parents or a support system. School isn’t going to cure sociopathy. How are teachers going to fix a mess like this?

    They aren’t.

  44. I agree with a lot of what Nate has written… I think that we ( black people) have to stop thinking that it is okay for this kind of mayhem to befall us. (or anyone else, for that matter) However, I greatly benefitted from the kinds of jobs programs Nate so
    fervently dismisses. But it is true that the black middle class which once lived in
    DC has moved to PG County…. DC is more like Detroit these days….

  45. DCDW: “If you looked at a police force controlled and funded and ordered around by a constituency of people that looked at you and your neighbors as “animals” that need to be locked up and/or sent away,”

    Really? You mean the people who control the police force (the City admin, lead by a black man?), fund it (the tax payers?), all look at all of the black people as what you say? Wow.. another sweeping generalization. You really have to stop making those if you want people not to take what you say as preaching or trolling.

  46. For those who were asking yes this was the place where the mob attacked the police and tried to distract them from catching the perps.

    From the South Columbia Heights Yahoo group an eye witness account:
    “This mob verbally and physically harassed and threatened these officers as they attempted to chase down one of the gunmen that ran into the alley between the 1300 block of Fairmont and Girard streets. One member of this mob even raised a bat to threaten the officers. Several people were eventually arrested, including at least two that are residents of Faircliff East Apartments. As I watched this all unfold, I realized that this mob appeared to be trying to distract the officers so that the shooter could escape from the police.”

    MPD Chief Cathy Lanier’s response:
    “As you stated, the officers and security were there when the shooting took place and apprehended the gunman and the guns used. You are correct in that the crowd did attack the officers and three additional people were arrested. We continue to add officers and enforce the laws as aggressively as we can. We will need all the community support we can get to keep these violent offenders off the street”

  47. Finally something I can agree with DCDW about. You are correct here but I wonder do you mentor? In what ways do you offer your time? Still wondering if you practice what you preach is all. A list of places to volunteer would be a good post for POP to or contributer to put together

  48. As for the notion that “change comes from moving to a better place”… I understand-but that, too, can be fraught with challenges. I have a longtime friend whose parents move every time a neighborhood becomes (in their words-and i give them credit for being honest) “too black”.
    They have moved at least 5 times in the 15 years I’ve known their daughter. I once semi-jokingly suggested that they try Iceland… So far, they are content with Northern Montgomery County. Not that the aforementioned is an Aryan paradise… (ha)

  49. I’m not looking at this through a race prism, more of a class prism. The mayor you speak of, the others you speak of, black, white, brown or otherwise, don’t really listen to the voices or needs of those in the housing complexes. Race is ever-present in this discussion, but the real issue here is class.

    Re: “practice what you preach”. I don’t do as much as I’d like to or should. I do a little. I give free legal advice to the working poor. I throw periodic low dollar fundraisers for community organizations. My day job involves helping organizers organize the marginalized. But, no, I don’t practice nearly enough. My apologies if that makes my message less palatable.

  50. DC’s black population is similar to Detroit’s. However, the black people here benefit from the government for stable employment. Otherwise, the blacks here would more closely resemble Detroit.

    I grew up in Alabama. Never heard of a jobs program. My mother would drop me off in the “white” neighborhood with a lawnmower and tell me not to come home emptyhanded. I never robbed anyone. Always made it honestly.

    That is sorely lacking in a lot of black people. The Hispanics have usurped us. Factor in a very corrupted culture and that forms a toxic stew. There is not a lot of money in crime. Just look at where the average criminal in this area lives. There is a very large subset in the black community that sees crime as being cool. They are the same ones that refuse to work at McD’s.
    Punishing people with long sentences won’t combat that. It takes a change of culture. Good luck with that…

  51. Tmoney, how / where did you get Laniers response?

  52. more knee jerking here , i swear give it up calling dcdw names, yes names like big babbies. he has opinions he’s passionate and speaks, no writes his mind. i dont always agree…but who learns anything from a one sided dialog? how do you think new solutions are formed?

  53. Since we’re all being candid here, can we talk a little about tactics? Where in the CH area would you avoid even in the daytime? What routes are best for walking after dark? Just thinking people on the board here might be slightly better sources of practical info than the WaPo or message boards on realtor-sponsored blogs.

  54. Also, just to clarify, PoP is most definitely not a “realtor-sponsored blog”.

  55. DCDireWolf, the crime rates in NYC dropped precipitously as a result of far more active policing. Now, whether it is an issue of general or specific deterrence (the latter being, if someone is in jail, they can’t perpetrate crimes) is a question, but there is no doubt that more active and aggressive policing can lower crime.

    Also, DCDireWolf, I spent a year of my time tutoring an at-risk youth. It did nothing. There is very little that a few hours a week can accomplish when the schools are war zones rather than learning environments, and more importantly, when the parents simply don’t give a damn and could care less if their kids are literate. I don’t know what the solution, but I doubt the impact on the situation would be anything more than marginal (if any at all) even if every poster on this board spent hours a week working one-on-one with the residents of Faircliff Plaza. Assuming the worst of those residents, the ones committing these crimes and interfering with police, would welcome the help, which is doubtful in any event. Dc Dire, I think it is fair for good citizens to want to be protected from this kind of activity without any concomitant obligation to perform community service. I guarantee you the perpetrators of these crimes aren’t out on the streets doing neighborhood clean ups or volunteering at soup kitchens …

  56. Nate – I think that you nailed it – parents! The issue is that thugs beget thugs – especially when they are having junior thugs at the ages of 14, 15, 16… Most people are not equipped to be parents at that age and some people are not equipped to be parents ever, but that doesn’t stop them.

    I have said it before and I will say it again (as a parent of a DC public school child) we can’t continue to slam the system – parents are the answer. Parents need to be involved to make the schools better. Little Jimmy’s scores aren’t going to magically get better. It takes hard work at home and the drive and expectation for excellence from the parents. That is why Charter Schools will likely show better scores – these are parents who care to make actual decisions about their kids’ educations and not just blame someone else.

    Same goes for the crime and bad behavior in society. Where are these kids’ parents? Why don’t they expect them to behave and punish them when they don’t behave? Why aren’t they demanding that they keep better company? Why aren’t they teaching them to respect the police? These are the things that my parents did for me and what I do for my child. These are not things that can be legislated or tutored or mentored out of someone. Until parents stand up and take responsibility for their children – or stop having children until they are ready to take that responsibility – this will not change.

    I had a friend who’s mother advocated putting birth control in the water and requiring that a person take a pill when they are ready to have kids – thus making it a conscious decision. While I am not advocating this drastic a measure, when I see a 15-year-old holding an infant and lighting a roman candle with the same hand in Columbia Heights, it does make me think.

  57. DCDW: That’s not the whole story. It is true that there was a confluence of a lot of happy factors that made the crime rate drop so dramatically in the mid ’90’s, but to discount deterrence completely is to misunderstand the data in favor of a purely philosophical position.

    Most social scientists agree that increasing penalties did have an effect on rates, even if the active young cohort of offenders, for crimes of opportunity such as robbery and theft (but not as much on violent offenses). Recidivism rates, sadly, are not effected, so you do get a strong component of career offenders (youthful and otherwise) that aren’t effected by deterrence, economics, demographics, or other confirmed factors.

  58. Here is a suggestion: Let’s all try and go to the meeting tomorrow and DEMAND that the projects be razed. No more funding rec centers. No more coddling. Let’s demand they shape up or we ship Graham and the project dwellers out.
    If there is enough of us, Graham will choose his political career over passionate voters.

  59. “change comes from moving to a better place”.

    Partially true. To be more accurate, change comes from *naturally* moving to a better place, i.e. through one’s own upward mobility.

    Placing people where they wouldn’t naturally settle on their own has always caused problems.

    See also: Israel, Northern Ireland, Falkland Islands, etc…

  60. I see DC is basically an African American version of the Lord of the Flies. This what happens with children give birth to children and couldn’t give a crap about them. I am starting to wonder if the best solution is not some sort of voluntary sterolization as part of a plee bargin when these punks get arrested. The deal would be on conviction you serve the maximum or take the sterolization choice and get out immediately. Sure they will be back, but at least they will not contribute to another generation of this maddness.

  61. “I think it is fair for good citizens to want to be protected from this kind of activity without any concomitant obligation to perform community service.”

    Whether it’s fair or not to have that desire is irrelevant. It’s not realistic. Yes, I’d love to live in a world where everyone follows the rules and is non-violent. But I don’t. And no amount of wanting the activity to go away or wanting to be protected from it will give me the vanishing act or the protection.

    The ONLY thing that will make it go away is a pervasive culture of community service, where every member of the community, or at least almost every member of the community, feels obligated to lift up every other member of the community. We all, and I mean ALL, have to be our brother and sisters’ keepers, or we all suffer the crap we’re complaining about.

    Sounds pie in the sky right? Sure. But if we don’t embrace it, and leave it to others to take care of the problem (cops, politicians, poor people, black people, whatever), the problem will not be solved. I mean, has it been solved anywhere yet with that attitude? NYC is hardly crime free in spite of ups and downs in trends of crimes committed.

    As for mentoring and tutoring, it does help. When only a few are doing it, it works only for a few, and doesn’t make a noticeable widespread impact, although it sure does for the few that are mentored or tutored.

  62. I’ll wear my brown shirt and jack boots to the meeting.. Cause Nate’s ideas sound, well….old school (aka Germany -1938)

  63. FYI…from the South Columbia Heights yahoo group

    Note from Chief Lanier to a member of the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Association here:

    “Mr Whatling,
    As you stated, the officers and security were there when the shooting took place and apprehended the gunman and the guns used. You are correct in that the crowd did attack the officers and three additional people were arrested. We continue to add officers and enforce the laws as aggressively as we can. We will need all the community support we can get to keep these violent offenders off the street”

  64. In_the _Heights

    Anonymous 11:42, is full of it. This is not about race, religion, or bigotry. It’s about building a safe community. Anon 11:42 take your race baiting fear mongering elsewhere.

  65. I don’t think anything is going to help the current generation of 12 to 25 year old african american males in this city. They are the product of rampant teenage pregnancy and drugs that swept through the city in the 80s and 90s. I would bet there is a small percentage of them that can be saved. Lets work at identfiying them and get them out. We need to work on protecting ourselves from the rest. I wish we could through mentoring, job training and all the other things at the problem but I really think they like their lifestyles and don’t want to be helped.

  66. I love PoP, but it IS IS IS IS Realtor Sponsored, in the truest sense of the word.

    Now as for the topic at hand – its all about race and class and we know it. There is an evil element in our society, it is those that attack the police to defend a shooter in the act, to protect an active assailant, those willing to assault an Officer of the Law so their compatriot can survive to perpetrate yet again. To say nothing of the primary criminal, this mob should be treated as an enemy of the state as they desire to destabilize the very structures upon which civilized society is built.

    “crime” does NOT pay no matter how you look at it, please see The Wire for an excellent representation. Sure you may ‘get rich’ in the short-term, but all involved inevitably end up dead or in jail. Is that a ‘win’ ?

    How does one motivate a group of people who believe a life sentence in prison is an acceptable outcome?

    More draconian, dare I say, Authoritarian, measures are required.

  67. ElevenIrving, too true! (See Godwin’s law …)

    DcDireWolf, you say it works. Where is the proof? Where is the empiracle evidence? As I said, I do a wide variety of community service. I have decided to direct my precious hours elsewhere after receiving nothing but bile for one year from one kid I tried to help, and another, while a nice kid, really just couldn’t be bothered to do anything to help himself, and his parent acted as if they were doing me a favor by dropping him off for me to volunteer with him. So from my experience, it doesn’t help, or least only marginally. And these were the kids whose parents were at least motivated enough to enter them into tutoring programs. Most of the residents of Faircliff, etc., just couldn’t be bothered in the first place. You are dangerously naive. I am not trying to discourage community service — it is something I have been devoted to my entire life. But to suggest it is a sinecure is crazy.

  68. honestly. a suggestion to burn their houses down and run them where to the other side of georgia ave? to pg county? what would any of this solve? Sounds like something a retarded 8th grader from fredneck would say.

    Anon 11:42 – for the win in my book.

  69. I think folks who say that these issues are not about (or also about) race are full of it. I cant speak for anonymous, but the failure to acknowledge that it is an element in this case is-what. naive?

  70. “Where is the proof?”

    It’s never been tried. Never in this city or this country or perhaps this planet have we collectively had the idea that we need all help each other out, regardless of race, class, age, location, income level, hair style, food and music preference, past behavior or current behavior.

    It’s never been tried, yet it’s the only real solution.

  71. DCDW: i.e. it’s not practical. Baby steps. Tear down large scale projects, encourage outreach, evolve the DCPS, AND fix the broken MPD (real community policing, multiple storefronts, foot patrols, integration into the neighborhood they patrol).

  72. Man. all my trashing on dcdw the other day for his damn kite store and now I have to defend him. You people have a seriously disgusting mob mentality right now and you should all check yourselves. We as a nation should be so far beyond this debate right now. yet you sound like a bunch of southern good old boys. the answer is not to run them out of town or create a police state or build jail after jail after jail. I doubt any of you are republican except for maybe Nate so I beg you to take a deep breath and start thinking rationally

  73. You miss the point, DC Dire — (a) many people simply don’t want to be helped and (b) helping oneself is the best past to success, pride, self-sufficiency … now I am not saying people should just give up, and not try to engage the community, and rely solely on a lock em all up approach. But your approach is equally single-minded, and at least equally wrong. There are bad people in the world who simply need to be off the streets. This is beyond dispute. There are people for whom a handout will only make things worse. There are many people who have no interest in bettering themselves or their children. This is the sad reality of the world all of us (save you) live in. I think any urban policy should be geared at simultaneously (a) doing everything possible to help those who DO want to better themselves and their children, or to keep parents out of the hands of bad-influence parents for as many hours of the day as possible: more school choice, more vocational opportunities, more job opportunities for teenagers (like DC USA can provide), more after school activities, longer school hours and schools years and (b) doing everything possible to deter those who make life for the apples, and for the law-abiding portion of the community, hell — stiffer jail terms for violent crimes, more policiing of quality of life crimes like graffiti, a non-laughable juvenile justice system, mandatory jail time for any gun possession offense, etc. etc.

  74. DCDW,
    The best way to get other people to help is by first helping yourself. If you go out and have baby after baby with man after man, that does not evoke much sympathy from people. People will rather see you gone than help you. You shoul dno tbe having kids if you are expecting society to pitch in and help you.

    I have a tenant that moved in 1/1/08. She got pregnant (4th). Now she wants out of her lease because the government (Sec 8) will allow her to get a larger place. Forget about the lease agreement she signed with me. She feels ENTITLED to a bigger place because she got pregnant again. And the government cosigns this behavior. Now what do you think she will be teaching her child in terms of being responsible for your actions.

  75. Reuben,
    I think you are black, correct? We both agree that this issue has much to do with race. Yet, there are people here telling us that it can’t be race. Who would know more about the culture of black America than one of us?

    Therein lies the problem. We will never get to the root of the problem if intelligent people either can not or will not agree that this has everything to do with race (not racism) and culture.

    By the way, I am not a republican. I am not religious. I don’t believe in god. And I strongly believe in abortion. But I am very much law and order.

  76. nate. how did a guy like you end up in petworth? your views are equally as well thought out as the teenager who pumped my gas when I was driving through the wretched depths of VA on the way the beach. he saw my dc plates and told me all about how things work. I told him he should consider a career in politics but he said he dropped out in the 7th grade.

  77. Annonyhoo: I don’t think DCDW can be faulted for his belief that it’d be a better world if humans didn’t act like humans, but it isn’t very realistic, and there are things that we can demand of our dysfunctional city government that could make some difference.

    The police are completely disconnected from the people in this city, one result: people assaulting them when they arrive on the scene of a crime. They are seen as total interlopers and the policies of the department do everything to reinforce that view as they roll through neighborhoods like Marines on patrol in Bagdad — never getting out of the car. Lanier has been a total failure.

    These are not hard reforms to make, police departments all over the USA have done so in MUCH larger cities with much smaller resources. Satellite or storefront offices rather than a half-dozen armed bunkers, foot, bike, and other local patrols, officers assigned to smaller areas who learn their beat instead of being seen as outsiders. It’s pathetic that a city like DC, which is pretty small and easily walkable, has such a pathetic community policing strategy.

    I say again, I see nothing in Lanier’s tenure other than an interest in rising to a higher political station, absolutely no interest in changing how DC is policed and how MPD is thought of by it’s citizens. Nothing but window dressing, shuffling a few supervisors around, pointless roadblocks and “all hands” quick-fix solutions to make people feel better, but no real changes. Sad and pathetic. With all her degrees and supposed expertise she should be ashamed of herself.

  78. sorry, when cops came through my old neighborhood, they werent seen as interlopers. hell, in columbia heights i dont see them as interlopers. i am happy to see them.

    if you see the cops as an interloper, then you’re part of the problem

  79. … one final note on community policing… if a city like Houston, Texas, possibly the most pedestrian unfriendly (you think August in DC is bad?), zero public transport, non-walkable city in the entire country, has a better community policing system (including bikes and a zillion storefronts) then your compact, easily walkable city, then your policing strategy sucks. Period.

  80. here here nate… i love the truth youre speaking (and i also love how you could care less about my or anyone elses support when it comes to your convictions)… that gem about ‘race (not racism) and culture’ takes the cake.

  81. Odentex,
    What would you like Lanier to do? She can’t turn a heavily unionized force around. If you ask any cop what is his biggest frustration, most will tell you that they feel powerless on the street. So they just ride by. They can not aggressively engage even the most known criminals. This is partly due to decades old police brutality and mistrust of the police by black people.

    In NYC, a police can engage a guy hanging on a corner and pat him down. He can’t go in his pockets but he can pat him down if that guy is loitering. In DC, MPD can not do that. At least that is what cops have told me. So they have to either catch the guy in the act or catch an incredibly dumb criminal.

  82. Nate: I don’t doubt that some DC cops aren’t going to be thrilled with idea of getting out of their cars and doing their job, but I would like to think most cops would be happy to do a better job and, through time and effort, establish a report with people that would change their rep. And even if they don’t like it, so the f*ck what? Should that cause the citizens that pay their salaries to throw up their hands? HELL NO.

    HPD had a horrendous reputation for corruption, incompetence, brutality and racism in the 1970’s, the murder rate in H-town was topping out the nation, and the city was beyond fuqqed. If dumb Texans can work out policing (while, never perfect, 1000% better from 25 years ago) I find it hard to believe DC can’t as well. There just isn’t any political will to do so, and for some laughable reason people heap praise on Lanier for her stupid, grandstanding PR operations like barricading Trinidad while the crime rates go up. “Well she’s got a graduate degree.” She’s been useless and she ought to go.

    Every police force is unionized, what do you think the union would do if we had a chief with balls (backed by a mayor with balls) who said “we’d like to implement these proven strategies, but the union doesn’t want to ask it’s membership to get out of the air-conditioned cars”? That position would last for about one second, just as it did in H-town.

    I find it hard to believe that a city which isn’t worried about the legal ramifications of setting up ROAD BLOCKS to a entire neighborhood, or thwarting the plain language of a Supreme Court decision, would have any trouble ordering it’s police force to pat subjects down.

    All of this is simply a matter of desire. MPD’s management doesn’t see much of a need to change since, for some unknown reason, the citizens of this city still aren’t demanding it loudly enough. Everything else is poor excuse.

    And don’t give me that “history” crap. HPD had a terrible history, and after living less than a mile from the city center of the fourth largest city in the USA, a city that is predominately non-white with it’s own simmering race and class issues, and seeing how a real metropolitan police force works (the good and the bad), MPD isn’t nothing but a joke. A reactive, non-involved, unprofessional, poorly managed joke. Believe me, I hardly ever thought I’d sign the praises of HPD, but MPD is so unprofessional it can’t be denied.

  83. I agree that there should be a strict birth control especially among teenagers. You can have all the public housing you want, all the rec centers and public schools but if these girls have 2-3 kids by the time they’re 21 then the army of future criminals is just growing exponentially.

  84. Birth Control – hence the need to offer vasctomies and tubal ligation in return for early release or time served in criminal offences. More aggressive birth control and sterolization programs is the only way I see to get this problem more in control. Once the child is born in this city in all likliehood he or she is a lost cause, despite all the money we through at the problem.

  85. I think the problem has a lot to do with culture as well.
    Why can an illegal immigrant from Salvador come to this country, get a job, rent an apartment (even if with 12 of his cousins), and still send money home to support his family and someone who was born here cannot do it? That immigrant has less rights than my neighbor’s dog, no education whatsoever (my wife was tutoring a literacy class and most of them didn’t even know how to read and write in Spanish), and no AA.
    Strong will and hard work will go a long way to pull you out of poverty.

  86. “if you see the cops as an interloper, then you’re part of the problem”

    Well, I don’t quite see it that way. Nor do I see them as partners. I have known both good and bad cops in this city. I wish there were more good ones. And I wish that they were out and about and getting to know people.

    But they don’t do that, and they don’t respond, and the operators at 911 don’t help, and the cops assumptions make things worse…

    To solve this problem we need a lot more than one side working at it.

  87. It’s not just a matter of money. And yes, it is a much greater challenge to educate kids who are underprivileged and come from a culture where it’s not valued. But you don’t think that we can do anything about the crumbling infrastructures, the teachers who don’t give a crap, the lack of books and supplies? I never said DC was unique in having bad schools, nor would having a great educational system solve all our problems. But it would sure help if kids who live in a bad home environment could at least go to school in an place that was safe, positive and clean. Maybe they might actually like being there.

    One thing is clear: throwing more cops at the situation has little effect, and as long as there is poverty there will be crime. So we can keep looking for more ways to incarcerate the entire black population of this city, or we can try to figure out how we might address the problem before the kids become criminals.

    As far as the notion that crime happens because people don’t fear incarceration? Don’t be ridiculous. These kids shoot each other down on a daily basis. I don’t care if we had Robocop out there. If they don’t fear violent injury or death from their own kind, which happens every day to these kids, then what on earth makes you think the best police force in the world would make them act any differently? They have a lot more to worry about than being locked up and fed three squares a day.

  88. Eugenics (or othewise magically disappearing black youths), while easy to endorse anonymously, is more divorced from reality than someone taking 20 hits of PCP, watching Eraserhead for 10 hours straight, and then listening DCDW’s hope of peace and harmony between the cracker and the blood (sorry DW, had to gig you again). Even if the underlying idea of sterilizing black men wasn’t so vile, it’s just not going to ever happen.

    While just venting is clearly a relevant goal on this blog, if we are truly interested in pressuring the pols downtown there are things that work for school systems, public outreach, and policing that people like DCDW have mentioned.

    They are all hard to do and offer little quick-fix solutions. But they fail 100% when you don’t try them or don’t DEMAND that the city start doing them with your tax dollars.

  89. Thor – your right on – it is attitude that sets them apart – they WANT to succeed and they don’t feel like anyone owes them anything. See this article in The Post from Saturday…


    “Foreign-born, low-wage workers in the poll said that the economic security they left homes and families to seek in the United States is becoming harder to attain. But their faith in that dream is still strong, as they tend to be more optimistic about the future and more satisfied with their jobs and wages than native-born workers.

    Nearly eight in 10 believe that their children will lead even better financial lives, far above the proportion among the native-born that thinks so.”

  90. I have a friend that mentored. I think it’s a worthwhile cause, but it was hard to tell how receptive the kid was…

  91. Somewhat related to the birth control comments and the comment related to An American Murder Mystery is the Freakonomics chapter on the controversial theory that legal abortion reduces crime.

  92. I am splitting hairs (of which I have precious little left), I know, but IMHO this is not about race per se (i.e. these people are not thugs because they are black); its about the culture (for a lack of a better word) and socio-economic situation of the black people. I.e. they are not thugs because they are black; they are thugs because they happen to be black.

  93. Jaime: I don’t know how you ever get there. DC is in worse shape than some school districts with an overwhelmingly poor student body, but no overwhelmingly poor district performs well. At best you have premier schools within the district (as does DC with Ellington and the like, as was my alma mater in H-Town) that cut the cream from the top and try to save as many as possible, while experiencing the enviable. So sure, infrastructure, books, and more opportunities, all of which should be available by fixing the management issues at DCPS and putting more dollars on the ground, but the numbers are still going to be sad. I hope for the best with the current DCPS “restructuring”, we’ll see. But I say again, the schools can’t change where the kids live, who they live with, and what priorities they ultimately have. That’s asking something that can’t be delivered by the public schools.

    And you are dead wrong about the police. How the police relate (or fail to relate, as is the case in this city) is important to public safety. If the police in this city weren’t mere occupiers that roll through anonymously their job would be safer and so would the streets. There are many examples available that prove this point, not the least of which is the compstat experience in NYC in the 1990’s which is well documented. Discounting police presence and directly correlating economics to crime is a pet progressive philosophical opinion that ignores well documented social science. The percentage of target male youth in “poverty” in NYC *ROSE* or was stable throughout the 1990’s, look into it.

    Increasing police alone is not a complete answer, but knee-jerk reactions to policing and tired old canards about poverty are equally simplistic.

  94. Yes, Nate-I am black. I also meant to respond to your realization that a lot of the “brothers” out here would not hesitate to take us out. It’s true, alas..
    I struggle with my anger towards said “brothers”. I see how a lot of these guys look at me.. It’s like there is something wrong with me because, like you, I go to work every day… I’m not playing the violin here, but the internal cost of potentially “getting it from both sides” is immense.

  95. Odentex – How is offering voluntary sterolization to criminals in return for shorter sentences eugenics. It is voluntary not forced. How is making birth control more widley available to children. I am not we should disapeer black folks or anyone for that matter. But lets face it black kids between ages 12 and 25 are completly out of control. They have no families. They raise themselves as best they can, yet without any apparent understanding of social behavior or moral values, other than those of the street. If this were a white neighborhood, I would say the same thing. High school children have no buisiness raising children. Given the numbers involved, I just don’t see any social program that will work, other than aggressivley policing them and locking them up. I read far too many stories of women in this city who are in thier early twenties with 4 or 5 children by 4 or 5 or more possible fathers. Until we can figure out how to stop children from having multiple children in poverty this will continue to happen.

  96. Paul: The lead paint babies too, don’t forget the lead paint babies that are psychopathic monsters now!

    There are lots of these theories.

    But there are also more traditional factors that can’t be easily accounted for, such as the economics of the 1990’s-2000’s which were brutal on the lower class but, shocker, didn’t seem to cause significant crime rate increases. There are two theories about this: (1) since the rich people were so happy about their Hummers and dot.coms, and since all one ever heard about on the teevee or the radio was how wonderful Hummers and dot.coms were, poor folk had a better attitude about their future prospects (of getting Hummers and dot.coms and lording it over Richie Rich), and thus committed less crimes; or (2) economics doesn’t correlate directly to propensity for crime.

    Now, most progressives, who were really gutted that the glaring economic disparity of the last 20 years didn’t cause a crime wave, instantly glommed on to theory #1, though pretty fantastical, it has the benefit of playing to class notions about the simple nature of poor folk. They just can’t help themselves, after all.

    Interestingly, when I speak with people who come from a working class background, people whose pappy’s were bricklayers, factory workers, or unemployed thanks to the “new economy”, they tend to think it’s the latter. Some folks is raised well, some folks — not so much. While many of you may not have noticed it, the economy hasn’t just sucked for a couple of years for a vast swath of this land… it’s sucked for about 25 years… yet, surprisingly, not everyone is out committing felonies. Although I have to keep constant check on my momma to make sure she stays in line.

  97. Guys, if 96 people (the number of comments on this post right now) show up at your neighborhood meeting tomorrow night — or if 96 emails get sent to the inbox of Deborah Howell, the do-nothing ombudsman at the lazy Post — it might start to make a difference. A reason that Washington still has a bad crime problem may well be that a critical mass of people has yet to come forward and demand attention to this problem.

    Also, after reading that an officer was threatened by someone with a bat…uh, why didn’t the cop, you know, shoot that person? I do believe officers carry arms for situations just like this — to protect themselves when physically threatened and prevented from carrying out their jobs.

  98. Anonymous: I’m sure you’d say the same thing if we had a exploding population of, say, Irish hooligans hanging out on every street corner drunk and fighting with all 9 of their brothers. You’d be just as wrong, but you’d at least have Johnathan Swift on your side.

  99. Poverty in New York City most certainly did not rise in the 1990s. Look into it.

    http://www.cssny.org/pubs/databrief/databrief09_26_01.html – poverty rates peaked in 93/94 at over 25% and fell to 20% by 2000

    Most researchers believe that the the new policing tactics are responsible for some of this drop in crime, particularly property crime. But crime declined nationwide during the economic boom of the 90’s. The drop in crime is highly correlated with the strength of the economy during that time period.

  100. If that cop had shot that precocious youth, do you know what would have happened to him? Those same youth that vow not to snitch would have stolen the bat and lined up to snitch that the officer shot the boy in cold blood.

    And the NAACP et al would be in tow. And that is how you further corrupt a culture. You overlook the problem (boy threatening anyone with a bat, inability to control rage) and complain of brutality for boy with bat getting shot. It happens all the time.

    Remember the boy Deonte Brown? Shot by police officer for stealing the officers ATV. The black community took up his cause saying that the cop had no right to shoot him. Yet, they turned a blind eye to Deonte’s checkered past.

  101. Not to mention the crowd far outnumbered officers in the beginning. If they shot there would be a good chance the mob would have overrun the first officers on the scene, putting them at far greater risk than one guy with a bat.

  102. Odentex – I would say the same thing if there were hundreds of young WASPY men shooting each other, fathering as many children as possible without taking any role in their lives with their most of their progeny fated to grow up and do the same thing. Do you think any of these young men will settle down, get a job and raise a family? Do you think they want to? Do you think they actually care? How is offering a quick snip to get out of jail early wrong? Their choice. How is offering sexually active adolescent girls depo shots in the schools wrong? Maybe not having the burden of a child you you are a child will help some of these kids break through the cycle.

  103. The BIG problem is, no matter what you do from the mentoring/social programs/job training angle, the actual physical concentration of low-income housing in that area isn’t going away. The individual residents may benefit from job training, social services, volunteering, but then what happens? With a leg up and better education and job prospects, they move out to better digs! Why would you stay there if you didn’t have to?

    Then what happens? Another worst-case-scenario resident moves in and the crime and pathology continues. Sure, if DCDW spend as much time mentoring as he did spamming message boards around the city (hee hee), he might help individuals to get their act together, but then they’d move out to be replaced by a new group of bad apples.

    Society in general will benefit, of course, but our neighborhood will not. I won’t discourage any such well-intentioned efforts, but the problem will not truly be abated until the concentration of public/assisted/low-income housing in that stretch is broken up and dispersed. There should be more mixed-income residential buildings there, and an unbroken line of street-level retail from Logan Circle all the way up north of Columbia Heights.

  104. Jaime: According to your source the poverty rate in NYC rose to 25% in the mid 1990’s and then hovered there while crime precipitously dropped through ’93-’98. This is why I said it “rose or was stable” through this period. Do you deny this? Your link also shows that the NYC poverty rate ballooned over the national average with *1 IN 4* New Yorkers living under the poverty line in mid nineties, all while the crime rate DROPPED!

    That’s even more astounding then I remember the numbers being. How did 25% of the population stave off the economic inertia to kill the other 75%?

    I bet you a million dollars if you interviewed 20 people on Wall Street in 1998 and asked them how many New Yorkers live in poverty they would have never have guessed nearly 1 in 4 (I wouldn’t have). The *perception* that the economy was good for EVERYONE was just that, a perception.

    The fact is that crime declined during the 1990’s despite the fact that the economic “boom” did little for Americans in poverty but swell their ranks (%’s may have been stable, but in pure numbers the population in poverty ballooned tremendously).

    Policing played a factor, as did other demographic changes (smaller 18-25 cohort), but poverty/crime link did not behave as conventional wisdom has (and, sadly continues) to suggest. The numbers fail your claim.

    As far as the relative “strength of the economy” you mention, What in does GNP or some other mass economic factor have to do with poverty rate? The Chinese have a growth rate that would choke a dozen Alan Greenspans, that doesn’t change the fact that they have millions of people in abject poverty — and, incidentally, a very low per capita crime rate.

    The poverty factor was soundly debunked by the ’90’s crime collapse. There is a paternalistic strain of belief that wants to continue this “high correlation” but it doesn’t exist.

  105. First, as an aside, agreed with Odentex. The eugenics bent to this argument is pretty scary, particularly those who suggest it as serious public policy. And this from a guy who pretty much thinks most people shouldn’t breed, not just the thugs. In the first place, it’s just not going to happen, either politically or legally. The best we can do is aggressively putting condoms in the schools, rec centers, and anyplace else and making birth control (especially the Norplant-esque varieties that you can’t forget to take and last a while) free, well publicized, and easy to get pretty much everywhere. And then beating the girls over the head with a consistent message about the stupidity of youth pregnancy from about kindergarten on. Kids who don’t want or aren’t allowed to be kids shouldn’t be treated with kids’ gloves.

    Second of all, agreed with nate & co. — it is a cultural problem, in the main. When “stop snitching” is part of a prevailing and reinforced social code, there’s a problem. When people would rather have known murderers living next door than cooperate with the police in putting them away, there’s a fundamental sickness with the prevailing norms. And while there are probably several dozen plausible explanations for why those norms have developed over time, one thing is for certain: they’re unacceptable. Step one has to be an end to the relativism and apologetics practiced on behalf of actions and attitudes that are just flat-out wrong.

    Finally, for all the folks talking about improving the schools as the key, read Marc Fisher’s wholly dismaying piece in the online Post today. It would be great if we really could quickly change these kids’ risk/reward calculus just by changing the reward side of the equation, but DC schools have been crappy for a really long time, and in the face of entrenched idiots like Brocks (guy in the article), it’s not hard to see why. School improvement alone, it seems, is a poor basket in which to put many of our eggs. Law enforcement has got to get better. These “crews” that get a pass as non-gangs (I presume to make them less scary to the general public) are, nonetheless, criminal enterprises. Prosecute them the same way you would the mob, where everyone’s a conspirator. Start with the little guys and let them flip over until you get to the real problems. Most public housing leases have provisions that require residents and their guests to comply with all laws … or be out. Start enforcing those provisions and putting out people who don’t choose to be accountable for what goes on in their home. Tip of the hat to the Freakonomics reference earlier, but you got the wrong chapter. You should have talked about why so many drug dealers live with their moms. The rewards from crime are low, but obviously, the risks are even less in DC.

  106. Looks like 4 were arrested:

    B M 09/12/85
    1300 Fairmont ST NW 20:15
    13th & Euclid ST

    B M 12/16/86
    3000 WARDER ST NW 20:15
    13th & Fairmont

    B M 12/06/81
    700 GIRARD ST NW 19:30
    13th & Girard ST

    B M 01/09/89
    1300 Fairmont ST NW 20:15
    13th & Fairmont St

  107. Nate –
    I totally agree with you about your parenting comments. I think this is why the SEED program is so successful…http://www.seedfoundation.com/about_seed/index.aspx

    If only there were more options like this for children…

  108. Anonymoos: A quick snip to get out of jail, besides violating the Constitution (the Supreme Court has long recognized a constitutional right to procreate)[*], is also never going to happen.

    Take a deep breath, move on, it’s a bad idea.

    [*] There is a big difference from offering free vasectomies at a vasectomy fair and making a criminal sentence contingent on the “voluntary” submission to such a process. Firstly, nothing in a such a penal (tee hee) context is going to be considered “voluntary”, and this is not a new idea — it’s a (bad) old idea. Some (southern) states have tried this process before, notably Oklahoma in the 1930’s, and like most boneheaded sentencing measures started in the south, the courts have stuck them down but hard. Several states also specifically bar the coercive use of sterilsation for people in state care.

  109. Mentoring and outreach can do a lot of good for achievement-oriented pre-teens and early teens in relatively stable environments who otherwise lack access to positive role models. Of course, if you’re achievement oriented and already in a relatively stable environment, you probably have access to some positive role models. These young people, however, many or few they may be, are not the topic of discussion here. Here we’re talking about the young adults on video trying to prevent the police from arresting someone who had just moments before attempted murder. No one can tell me that outreach, one on one relationships, and mentoring can do anything to reintegrate those people into civil society, and I believe that to argue otherwise is delusional. We’re not talking about 10 year olds. I was involved in youth outreach and also in mentoring at a juvenile detention center in Baltimore (the Eager Street Academy). The “home life” (four generations of unemployed teen mothers under one section 8 roof) and “culture” (misogyny, thug life) that breeds the people you can see in that video is so deranged that I agree that the ONLY solution is the removal of any children from the home before they reach school age.

    And another thing: when one of these guys is shot to death in a running gun battle and a whole “community” comes out to mourn the death of their “good boy,” I believe them — I met some truly charming 16 year-olds at Eager Street who might have done very well except for the not learning how to read above a fourth grade level, fathering multiple children with multiple girlfriends, having tear-drop and other prominent visible gang tattoos and standing accused of murder in the pursuit of $40 and a North Face jacket. In their community, all that notable is the charm, because the rest of that stuff is “normal.” I don’t like it, but I’m afraid there are almost as many urban youth in the Eager Street category as there are in the mentoring and outreach category.

  110. This is the most depressing thread I’ve read on the internet in my life. Oh, if only we spent more than $13K per student in schools, the problem would be solved. Oh, if only we threw baskets and baskets of condoms at these kids . . . oh if only oh if only.

    You are not going to fix this strange generation of thugs.

  111. Jamie: One side note, poverty does obviously play a role in the characteristics of nearly all offenders — that’s always going to be the case — but you have to be careful about suggesting that relitive levels of poverty, or the existence of the poverty characteristic itself, drive crime rates. That’s the difference.

  112. I sure like Anonymous 3:05…well-said. Now pass it on to Jim Graham (ha).

  113. In NYC (Manhattan), the demographics changed. Plain & Simple. In many parts of NYC, crime is still bad. Except noone really cares what happens outside of parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

  114. enough with the negative eugenics. you guys are starting to sound like planned parenthood: http://www.blackgenocide.org/sanger.html

  115. Odentex – I understand voluntary steralization as part of a prision release program (bytheway – I read coercive steralization as forced, without a choice, mostly practiced on the mentally ill in the past) will never happen, but neither will this cycle of violence as long as current practices remaining. The cycle is the direct result of children having childred. I would agree that agressive promotion of birthcontrol at every turn might help, but that will never happen with the presence of the right wing fundementalist christian element in this country that wants to ristrict the use of birth control. What are we left with? Mentoring and community policing – failures.

  116. FYI – I live in the new building on 14th and Girard (which is half affordable dwelling units – a great way to help lower income working families have a chance at the “American Dream”). A neighbor of mine was on the roof smoking a cigarette when the gun shots went off and witnessed the shooter hiding the guns under a dumpster in the alley behind our buioding. He is the one that pointed to police to them and recoverred the weapons.

    It takes this kind of willingness to step up, be seen and refuse to tolerate this type behavior in our neighborhood in order to bring about a change. The “refuse to snitch” attitude is unbeleivable, and personally I don’t think it’s a fear of reprisal from criminals, I think it’s a hatred of the police.

  117. Nate: That’s common wisdom about what happened but not really in line with the facts, because the drop in crime in the mid-late ’90’s, particularly the staggering drop in murders, was city-wide and not just in Manhattan. There are a couple of really interesting books on the subject if you are interested (“New York Murder Mystery” by Andrew Kamen is particularly good). The demographics of NYC remain highly non-white and highly immigrant, even if Manhattan has become too expensive for mere mortals ;)

  118. Odentex,

    Didn’t the murder rate in New York as well as Washington, DC also drop because many young men were locked up? Are the issues with crime related to the fact the next generation is coming of age?

  119. Bryan: I think you are 100% right about that. The police in DC have zero respect from a wide variety of residents (including me) and that’s got to change.



  121. Steve: The more likely demographic argument goes to the smaller size of the 18-25 year old male population at the time (our crime years – how I remember them fondly), there were just less of us bad boys in Generation X to commit crime. The rate of jailing individuals increased dramatically from the early 1980’s, with most of the get-tough legislation coming into effect in the mid-80’s (mandatory minimums, the sentencing reform act, etc.). What is interesting though is that the rate of incarceration was just as high in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s when crime went through the roof as it was later, so it’s hard to pin any change in crime to incarceration rates. Same with arrest rates and convictions rates, they really weren’t altered much from the worst days of the crime wave in the early 1990’s through the drop.

    Maybe we finally locked up the right people? That seems to be one argument, but I don’t know how you could ever prove it or attribute any crime stats to that.

    Fact is, most broad studies simply can’t pin the ’90’s crime crash to any one set of factors, there were a lot of factors that *could* have had an impact (policing, demographics, upbeat national opinion), but most social scientists can only tell what *might* have had an impact, and certainly the rising incarceration rates overall (and possible deterrent effects) could be considered a factor… I wouldn’t say it didn’t have an effect, but it’s very hard to see it from the data given what didn’t happen in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s.

  122. The only thing more shocking than that video is the racism and level of bitching by commenters on this blog. To the people complaining about Section 8 housing — why did you move into a neighborhood that you knew had such housing? A little too enthralled by the granite counter tops and promises of Disneyfied “urban living?” Yes, the shootings and the reaction are terrible, but there has to be a way to deal with the bad eggs without driving out an entire economic class. Our neighborhood doesn’t need people moving in that can’t tolerate racial and economic diversity. Some of you sound like you might be happier in a gated community in Fairfax.

  123. “To the people complaining about Section 8 housing — why did you move into a neighborhood that you knew had such housing?”

    Just because we moved here doesn’t mean the neighborhood has to remain static. I personally, and many others here, have no issue with Section 8 housing per se; the problem is that all too often they’re simply warehousing the poor while attracting a bad element to the neighborhood. If you look here:


    You’ll see that Columbia Heights has more than its fair share of Section 8 housing. The question you should be asking instead is, “Why isn’t the rest of D.C. (and upper Northwest) shouldering the same burden as we are?” Having this degree of concentration of poverty in a rapidly changing area is creating a combustable mix. The proof is in the crime stats.

  124. Anon 6:24 – I have not read a single racist post. Race is a factor, but I don’t think anyone is a racist. If you move to a tough neighborhood you buy into it. Most people moved here because they like the diversity. Why shouldn’t you demand changes if crime is high. I don’t think any of the posters on this thread would debate the fact that public house whether section 8 or city owned has tendencies to crime havens and that the occupants don’t do anything to change their ways. I would say that if they were black, white, pink or green. The fact is they happen to be black. I think everybody recognizes that there are serious problems in the black community that perpetuate these problems and that government social programs that were welling meaning hae either been poorly execute or were flawed from the begning.

    Don’t bust our chops for caring about our community.

  125. Also, people should read this:


    and ask CM Graham, the Chief, (and the Mayor/other CMs if they decide to drop in) about the issues written about in the article. There are a lot of hard questions that need to be answered. If enough people show up (and the media is there), there could be at least a near-term improvement.

  126. maybe some people would like to open their homes and become foster parents to a kid that might otherwise end up like this?

  127. Great article Boomhauer, thanks.

  128. SEED is not really the answer because I know two women who got their kids into SEED whose kids were asked to leave at the end of the year. SEED succeeds by kicking out the kids they can’t get to succeed. Think about it, they only keep the kids who work under their program so it’s not that their program works, it’s that they eliminate the kids they don’t reach.

  129. “To the people complaining about Section 8 housing — why did you move into a neighborhood that you knew had such housing?”

    Why do you think that housing existed when I bought my house? I saw two houses go abandoned that were turned into halfway houses without community approval that I saw. One year there was a family there, 3 years later there were ex-cons on the porch and weird guards, in 2008 the houses have been sold again. You think the city keeps something section 8 for 30 years? Heck no, they buy and sell and lease and move people around. Get real.

  130. I have long since stopped thinking that Eugenics is a bad thing and neither should you.

    It’s true that classic Eugenics, the idea that mentally unfit parents automatically give birth to mentally unfit children is categorically wrong.

    But we aren’t talking about genetics here, genetics aren’t the problem. If being part African created problems in life then how can anyone account for Barack Obama? You can’t. Race has NOTHING to do with this.

    Culture has everything to do with this. What the city needs to do is to declare certain anti-social crimes to be reasons to have these children rescued from these homes and sent to live in different kinds of communities and schools, such as in the desert, the woods, or farm areas.

    I was in a midwestern city this week and the African-Americans I met there couldn’t have been nicer, more educated, erudite and sophisticated even in comparison to the beer drinking and wall-eyed pike fishing white mustache people. Then I fly into Dulles and the African-Americans working at the airport were surly, belligerent and treated me like sh*t.

    It’s not race, but you’d have to be really naive to live here and not admit that while it’s not race, IT IS SOMETHING and IT IS KILLING KIDS.

  131. “I think it is fair for good citizens to want to be protected from this kind of activity without any concomitant obligation to perform community service.”

    Whether it’s fair or not to have that desire is irrelevant. It’s not realistic.

    This problem is unique to a few communities in the US and in other cities these kinds of things don’t happen. I was up in Harlem last year and I didn’t see ANYTHING like this. I saw young tough African-American teens practicing tap dancing for dollars in their hats with signs about sending them to broadway. Ask one of these guys in CH if he wants a career in broadway musicals? You think Savion Glover is out there helping every single kid in Harlem? Hell no. The kids in Harlem simply are part of a good culture and the culture of columbia heights must be stomped out.

    The guys doing this are mentally ill and they must be given psychiatric medication to halt their mental illness. It only sounds scary because we secretly know it’s shockingly true.

  132. “To the people complaining about Section 8 housing — why did you move into a neighborhood that you knew had such housing?”

    Because I expected that if enough people like me move into this neighborhood the section 8 housing would go away. Since time immemorial the richer/more violent/better organized/more able to handle cold weather/carrier of more deadly diseases/less impressed by technology people have displaced others. Fail or succeed there is nothing wrong or different in my efforts from the people who live in section 8 housing and eventually we will all be supplanted by some other group with an unanticipated advantage over both of us. When that happens I will expect myself or my children to whine gracefully.

  133. ElevenIrving: If this is “survival of the fittest” I’m putting my money on the Section 8ers and not the granite-counter-top coveting class.

  134. ElevenIrving: If this is “survival of the fittest” I’m putting my money on the Section 8ers and not the granite-counter-top coveting class.

    When your ass gets put into the ground at 19 that’s not “survival” or “fittest.”

  135. Did anybody go the meeting last night?

  136. Meeting is tonight according to the South Columbia Heights Neighborhood Assn.

  137. Neener, you sound a little like Joe Biden… You know, the “articulate” line. When someone who happens to be white (I think that is the right phrase for this new, post-racial America I keep hearing so much about) says something like to me, let’s just say I find it condescending. As if there aren’t umpteen black folks who have no problem with subject/verb agreements…

  138. Ruben: I think you’re being too harsh on Neener. When he saw those young fellers in Harlem practicing the soft shoe he dropped a dime in the hat and said “you coloreds are so civilized up here, not like those uppity rascals down in DC!”

  139. Reuben,
    In all honesty, can you really say that a well spoken mannerable young black man is what most people encounter in this area? My experience has been that most outside of my small circle are not that mannerable or well spoken.

  140. I’d reference here the Chris Rock routine regarding how he loves his black people but hates his (voice lowered, furtive glance around) ‘n-words’.

  141. Odentex and Reuben can say what they want, but their comments do not change the truth.

    Sorry Odentex if tap dancing kids bother you, take it up with them, not me. In fact I’m willing to bet that your attitude (tap dancing equals something bad) is EXACTLY what’s keeping you down rather than succeeding in life. When I saw them tap dancing I was pretty amazed because the Columbia Heights guys would not, from talking to them, even understand broadway musicals, let alone plan a career around one. The last time I talked to a guy in a crew all he would talk about were people who got shot because of beefs. I told him that the beefs aren’t real, that they’re a fantasy, but of course he felt they were “real” you know and my life isn’t real. Belief in those beefs are the product of a mentally ill mind. They are a psychosis. A psychosis that a psychiatrist can treat.

    It’s not race, I’m very clear about that, it’s culture and a bizarre obsession with death that would make a pimply teenage goth say, “lighten up guys.”

    So take a look at why some kids working their way to broadway with a tap dancing skill makes you feel bad about yourself. That’s such a bizarre reaction that I think you owe it to yourself to talk to a doctor about it.

  142. If I ever met someone talking like Neener at a party, I’d probably try to discreetly extract myself from the conversation.


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