Monday, December 15, 2008

Teen Stabbed at 13th and U; Proceeds to Board Metro Train

OK, enough already. The Post is reporting this morning that a teenager was stabbed at the 13th Street entrance to the U Street Metro station on Saturday evening, then proceeded to board the train and ride it up to Columbia Heights. Once there, he must have determined that his injury was not "merely a flesh wound", and an ambulance was called for him.

This attack comes on the heels of a fatal stabbing at 14th and Newton on Friday night, the third murder in a week that has occured in the Columbia Heights/Parkview areas.

The article quotes a Metro spokeswoman as saying that the attack was believed to be related to an ongoing feud or beef that has led to the violence we've witnessed the last few days. (Why Metro is speculating on these things and not MPD is anyone's guess.) Regardless, we've definitely got an issue here.

This reminds me of the Shaw gang wars from 2007, where you would see flare-ups every few weeks or so. Inevitably, the outcry over this violence will be tempered with the usual "you only care 'cause it's happening in an area with pricey condos". I know, because we've heard it before. And it's true that the shootings and stabbings that take place on U Street and in Columbia Heights generate more press than one that takes place in Anacostia or Barry Farms. But the persistence of youth violence on this scale is particularly troublesome for two reasons.

First, Mr. 14thandYou, his brother, and a couple of friends happened to find themselves at Ben's Chili Bowl, directly across the street from the location of the stabbing, just a little later that evening. No one likes to see assaults like this happening so close to home.

Secondly, and perhaps more disturbing, we've seen firsthand the efforts being conducted by the MPD in the neighborhood to combat violent crime: more foot patrols, increased police presence, establishing personal relationships with many in the community, and so on. We think they're doing, by and large, a great job. And yet the last week has been evidence of how quickly and easily violence like this can spiral out of control. So the answer isn't "more police" or "more development". (Or "wait for cold weather"--Saturday night was pretty darn chilly, and yet...)

So what is the "solution" here? It's likely a combination of things: continued visible police presence, a renewed focus on the juvenile court system and its penchant for releasing repeat offenders back into the population, continued focus on providing counseling and outlets for kids in the District to do everything possible to ensure that they stay out of trouble, etc.

And to all of you who moved here from Des Moines and thought U Street/Logan looked safe because it has pretty houses and expensive condos: well, it still is largely a safe neighborhood...but keep your head up and your wits about you. Violent crime happens everywhere, unfortunately.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with worrying about crime in areas with pricey condos? Rich people (and no, I'm not one of them) have every right to worry about their safety and make sure the authorities deal with the situation. Are wealthy people supposed to feel guilty because they demand that cops do their jobs in their neighborhood? SOMEBODY has to do something, and if it takes rich people to make it happen, so be it.

Anonymous said...

Was there another homicide [shooting] at 11th & Rhode Island ave late last night also?

14th & You said...

Yes there was a shooting. Go http://dcist.com/2008/12/16/two_fatal_shootings_overnight.php for what little information there is.

14th & You said...

Anonymous, I think that Mr. 14th & You's point was this: Some places in this city have been plagued by crime for a while. Yet, when property values go up, some of the gentrifiers act almost surprised that there is crime in their neighborhood despite widely available data on criminal activity. No one likes violent crime, particularly near one's home. However, we must also realize that there are limited city policing and financial resources to go around. I understand why Anacostia was the testing ground for Shot Spotter. I also understand why there were more cops in Trinidad when people were getting outright slaughtered there. Right now, there may be extra allocations of police in Columbia Heights as there seems to be increased gang activity there. If you go to neighborhood ANC meetings and PSA meetings, you will hear that most MPD officers really are wonderful and doing their jobs quite well. They do want to hear from you. The officers just can't predict crimes or ensure that repeat offenders are properly punished by the justice system.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Yep, that about sums it up. I was referring to the "Golly gosh I paid how much for a condo with a chalk outline in front of it?" mentality. EVERYONE deserves to live in a safe neighborhood, but know what you're getting into. It isn't ancient history that Logan was essentially a crime-ridden open-air drug mart. Oh, times have changed...but that element wasn't miraculously vacuumed up and deposited in PG county.

Anonymous said...

What's surprising is not the urgency of the wealthy condo owners in Colombia heights but the apathy of the community in Anacostia that doesn't report crime or create citizen crime watches on the level of Colombia heights. Actually, what's surprising is the apathy of people in Columbia heights to a degree as well. In Indonesia a thief would be beaten to death by civilians if caught. Those neighborhoods are safe. Real policing can only come from the citizenry.