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Stabbing in Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park Confirmed Plus What’s A Blogger’s Responsibility When Posting About Crime?

by Prince Of Petworth July 27, 2009 at 11:52 pm 93 Comments

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Just last week we were celebrating the fences coming down in the park. And of course on Saturday we had an unconfirmed report of a stabbing around 6pm. Let me first say that I have confirmed the incident with Council Member Graham’s office as well as with MPD. I’d also like to thank Muriel Bowser’s office and the MPD liaison office for their help in the matter as well. Part of the difficulty in tracking down the confirmation was that, as someone mentioned in the previous comments, this matter was handled by the Park Police. Here’s what I was able to cobble together:

MPD Commander George Kucik said:

“There was a stabbing inside the park. It is being investigated by US Park police. The victim is expected to survive and it appears that the victim was targeted.”

MPD was looking for a “Hispanic male suspects that fled” the scene, according to Chief Diane Groomes. And Council Member Graham happened to actually be on the scene and believes it may have been gang related.

So there it is. Very sad and very disturbing on so many levels. As I have said many times before, this park is one of my absolute favorite spots in the city. It truly is a gem. However, I am also not naive and realize that crime had been an issue in this park in the past and after nightfall it can still be problematic from time to time. I guess I found this instance particularly disturbing, of course crime at all hours is disturbing, because of the time of day it took place – between 5 and 6pm on a beautiful Saturday. And here’s another problem I have – how on earth could the Washington Post not report about this. It’s not like it is a little pocket park. After Rock Creek Park this is one of the prime park locations in the city. I wonder if they would have reported on it had it occurred in Rock Creek Park? But this leads me to the second part of the title of this post – what is a blogger’s responsibility when posting about crime?

While the Washington Post is generally a great newspaper, clearly it can’t be counted on all the time. As a matter of fact no other publication made mention of this incident (though DCist did link to my original post.) I think this is what puts me in a unique position. Obviously I’m not personally (thankfully) witnessing these crimes. However, PoP, has become a place where people know that matters of crime will be discussed no matter which neighborhoods they occur in. Furthermore people know and trust that the information they send will be posted and posted anonymously. I take this responsibility, and I do see it as a responsibility, very seriously.

In this particular instance I posted the reader’s email because I had received multiple emails of reports about numerous police and ambulance on the scene. So I figured something had to be going on. I also believe that PoP is unique in that it generally has a very quick self correcting community. If this had been bogus or if no others had reported seeing first responders then I either wouldn’t have posted in the first place or I would have corrected the initial post. The fact of the matter is, often the only place folks feel comfortable sharing information and incidents like this is on PoP. But what I have worked very hard towards is gaining your trust. I think I have earned it with many of you. I have no ulterior motives with these posts other than getting the information out there and hopefully readers and/or the authorities will confirm or deny it. Therefore, I have no problem posting information about crime that I believe is likely reliable. It is not a perfect science.

Like I said I’ll gladly amend the report should the facts emerge to contradict an initial post. And believe me, the last thing I want to do is incite fear. I hope it is obvious by now, but I truly love this city and wish I could only post about new restaurants, buildings, gardens etc. Sadly, that is not the sum of our experiences living in the city. So I’ll continue to be an outlet when we are let down by those who have far greater resources than I. However, we should not underestimate the resources that we do have. And that resource is of course the great community of readers, commenters and tipsters.

Am I wrong?

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