This is not about the second amendment.
This is not about gun control laws.
This is about drug dealers on the corner.
The problem, and it comes with every wave of new neighbors, particularly white neighbors, is the idea that the guys on the corner are harmless and have some imagined right to hang about. They are not harmless.
Where there is the business of drug dealing, there is a gun somewhere nearby. A loaded gun, ready to shoot. More than likely an illegal gun where those in possession never bothered to go through the gun safety training class or registration.
Incompetents with guns have have bad aim hitting cars, houses, bystanders, and sometimes their intended target. I remember a daytime shooting many years ago on my street, in front of my house, so this is not theoretical. The shooters shot at a bunch of guys hanging out on the corner (suspected drug dealers) in a drive by from an SUV- Suburban Ussault Vehicle. The shooters managed to hit one guy in the butt and as they traveled down my street they felt the need to shoot several rounds of bullets towards the ground. They managed to damage some cars. I didn’t have a car so, I didn’t care that much. But I do care about an errant bullet wandering into the insides of one of my neighbors or myself (and now as a mom, my family members).
The bad old days of the drug dealers are slowly creeping back into Shaw. The only difference is there are fewer baby mommas’, girlfriends’ and grandmas’ houses to hang out in front of, the plus side of gentrification. So yes, some of the guys may have lived in the neighborhood at one time (as a kid, as a boyfriend, etc) but they don’t live here now. They do not respect the neighborhood, and never did. Don’t feel obligated to make excuses for them.
The Help came over for dinner, helping me put a dent in the amount of chicken dishes I made over the weekend. As a part of our date I suggested the overly romantic idea of popping into the 5C01 SMD meeting around the block [sarcasm]. Surprisingly he thought it was a great idea, and after dinner we stopped over to the meeting that was already in progress. If you say you didn’t see us, we were in the back, and we didn’t stay long. We stayed long enough to hear about the parking situation and the Catch-22 the car owning residents of Richardson Pl. are in, and interesting things about liquor licensing. Did you know the city limits the number of A & B licenses for the whole city?
Anyway, we left and got to talking about changes in the neighborhood, particularly the drug dealing on the corner. The Help has known me since before I bought the house, and has seen the neighborhood change. Since he knows me and I pledged to be honest with him I gave him my answer and I’ll share that with you. But I don’t think it varies from what I’ve said before.
There is no one thing that I believe has reduced the dealing on the corner, but rather a whole ingredient list of things. First, I think we got better policing and policing got better. The Internet has helped a lot in getting information to the public, as opposed to the few people who show up to community police meetings. It also helped to have more police patrol cars going up and down the streets. Second, politics and city services. This neighborhood is on the ass end of Ward 5 and we were ignored by then Councilman Orange. With more people involved in local level politics, demanding and engaging more of the elected representatives, who then put pressure on city officials to tackle the crime environment. Also city services and servicing got better. Third, and you know I was going to get to it, demographic changes. There are a whole bunch of things wrapped up in that. The drug dealers need an environment and support structure and when there are fewer people who would add to it, it is undermined. There are fewer neighborhood kids to recruit. Fewer people willing to feed and house dealers. Fewer houses and businesses dealers can stand in front of or visit when they need to duck the cops. Fewer walk up customers. More people complaining and calling the cops. More disapproving eyes on the street. More dog walkers. More joggers. More homeowners. Fewer absentee landlords not caring who they put into a house. Fewer vacant houses. Fewer stores to buy MD 20/20 and a 40oz (remember the old Bates Market?). And lastly, time. All things change with time.
You know good weather is around the corning when the boyz start hanging around the corner you prayed they had abandoned. Well, it’s better than the bad old days when they’d hang on the corner in bad weather, day and night. So they started hanging out Wednesday, and they’ve brought on new staff. There is one guy I recognize from days past, but the other guys? Ranges from ‘not sure’ to ‘he’s new’.
With vigilance, hopefully, it will prove to be an unprofitable corner. Problem is that we are a handful of blocks from heroin central, over by where the Truxton Circle used to be. But so far, during the hour or so I was watching them, and really didn’t see any cars stop. I wasn’t the only one watching, a few others thought it was nice enough to sit on their stoops, or fiddle in the yard. Mix that in with the odd dog walker, joggers and strollers, I don’t see how that’s an attractive corner for a drug buy.
Also I want to thank the 5D cops who showed up and made several passes by the corner, and ventured into the alley. Of course by then the boyz had wandered off, but it was good they showed up anyway.
Unrelated Announcement– Blogger issues. Blogger is going to discontinuing a service I use so I’ll need to migrate my blogs and I’m not sure what’s that going to look like. So blogging may be spotty towards the end of the month.
People, if you own an iPhone, you have a portable little device that sells for about $200 on EBay broken. Not jailbroken. Cracked screen broken. So imagine if a thief manages to grab it from you fully functional.
On the green line one afternoon, after work I noticed a young woman standing near the door, one hand on the handle of a suitcase burdened down with other bags and one hand, outstretched playing with her iPhone. Her body language just screamed, “Hey steal my iPhone!” She was conveniently near the door, for a quick getaway. The number of bags she had, made it unlikely that she’d go running after my imagined thief. And since everyone else on the train was in their own little worlds, the likelihood that someone would chase after this imagined thief, small. The distance she held it out from her body made it easy to knock it out from her hands.
She wasn’t the only young woman holding her precious iPhone a foot from her body, making it easy to grab. I saw another walking down 7th Street in Penn Quarter. She might as well have been holding it out another 6 inches further saying, “Here, here, take my phone.”
So my advice is when you’re out in public. Public being outside of your office, your dorm, house, your own private vehicle, hold your iPhone out no more than 6 inches from your body. Also it doesn’t matter what neighborhood you’re in because even Georgetown is experiencing iPhone theft.
I just came from a unrewarding task. While putting my trash can away I noticed not 1, not 2, but about 4 home security issues of concern that could result in a break in or theft from a home or yard. Now if it was just one house, I would go to that person’s house and knock on their door and point out that their back gate latch is unlatched, their rear security door (iron door) is wide open or any of the other concerns I noticed. But with 4, screw it. I’m just doing one and that one, the person wasn’t at home. I left a note.
I’m not repeating it with 3 more houses.
So folks I know the snow probably kept you out of your back yard and away from your alley access. Well the alleys are mostly walkable now and wood warps (why your back fence gate is open), so check your rear.
There is a workshop for folks interesting in becoming block captains on March 11 from 7-9PM at the 5th District police headquarters. I gather the goal is to improve the safety of the community. If interested please contact Jim Berry at jamojam at msn periodthingy com. Ask about the car pool.
Kids hold on to your iWhatevers.
I ran into one of my neighbors in the metro and we decided to walk and chat. Now it being winter, my head (including ears) were bundled up so I concentrated on listening to my neighbor. However, I did hear some ruckus behind me, but didn’t see anything as we headed to the escalators. Then this guy, bald black male, average height and build wearing a very new looking red and white jacket (primarily white with a bold red design) ran by us very quickly and hustled up the escalator. I didn’t put two and two together until a white guy came running up about 10 to 15 seconds later. The red and white jacket guy stole his iPhone.
I mentioned before about the terrorizing teens on the metro here and here. Checking the other blogs around Prince of Petworth has a report of an incident on the Red line, with many comments following. What got me was one of the comments of a woman who was targeted by two teenage girls who reached into her bags, and got a “what you want me to do about it” from the station manager when she reported it.
The last entry reminded me of an another incident that happened on the Green line involving a teenager who was trying to start something with people minding their own business.
I was on the Green Line to Greenbelt on Sunday morning to meet the Help in College Park to go to his church. I had my newspaper and was more than likely listening to something on the iPhone (sometimes I just leave the headphones on with nothing playing), minding my own business. The train was sparsely occupied and I was in the center so I could see three other people seated and two or three standing at the doors. The people near the doors got off except this one guy, I think. The guy got my attention, I can’t remember if he tapped my shoulder or waved me and said something. I took one head phone off and said, “What?” He said something, with a big smile on his face, sort of laughing. Whatever he said did not register in my mind as English. I probably said no thank you and “Good-bye” and put my headphone back on. He moved on and I saw him get off the train. Well a few more stops he was back on my car. This time he was getting into people’s personal spaces. He leaned over to one large woman seated and she leaned back then he moved over to a man about 50 something, maybe South Asian or Latino or Arabian origin, and really got into his face. I mean the young man put his face about 5 inches from the face of man sitting near the door minding his own business. The man responded and started yelling and cursing at the young man with an accent. The young man cursed at the man in clear English, started grabbing his crotch and making threatening gestures. When the train pulled into West Hyattsville they both got off.
He was looking for trouble and we metro riders minding our own business are easy targets. Him and the gang of teenage girls are creating an environment ripe for the next Bernie Goetz.