Shaw Streets

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Third Police District Commander James Boteler and ANC Commissioners Sranda Watkins and Rachelle Nigro address the community and TV cameras about public safety in Shaw. Photo: Alexander M. Padro, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets

ANC Single-Member District Meeting Focuses on Safety

The monthly Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) meetings that Commissioner Sranda Watkins (ANC 2G03) holds for the residents in her single-member district are usually reserved affairs. However, the meeting on March 19 turned out to be a sounding board for the entire Shaw community. A shooting on Seventh and P Streets the weekend before, when seven people were wounded, two of them fatally, had gotten the neighborhood concerned again.

Watkins led the meeting, accompanied by ANC 2G’s chair, Rachelle Nigro. Commander James Boteler, of the Third  District of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), took questions from the assembled residents. He started by saying that the weekend incident was disappointing in that crime statistics were starting to trend downwards. He noted that despite statistics, the community is not safe if people do not feel safe. Still, he noted that shootings in the Third District were down 47% from the same period in the previous year.

Regarding the incident on Seventh and P streets, Boteler said that it was believed that the attackers and victims knew each other. There was no evidence of any altercation at the Play DC club that would have led to the shooting. A photo of the car believed to have been used in the assault had been released to the public. Boteler also added that the case was now in the hands of the Homicide Division, which is one of the best in the country, with a high case closure rate.

A resident asked if Play DC was required to have a Reimbursable Detail Officer (RDO) from MPD. Boteler said that the club did meet the requirement, but that officers have to be willing to work these assignments. Getting officers to fill these details with the force’s current limited personnel resources often makes RDOs unavailable. That led Nigro to note that Play DC’s settlement agreement with ANC 2G requires the presence of two RDOs to discourage loitering around the establishment during late hours.

A Shaw resident of 41 years complained that for the last six months there have been car break-ins along Q and Marion streets, without anything being done. Boteler replied that there had been a 34% reduction in thefts from autos. He stated that this reduction just does not happen on its own, it happens when the police make arrests. However, once an arrest is made, the person goes from the control of the police into the criminal justice system.

This led the resident to call for all the public safety agencies to get together. At that point, Watkins noted that a representative from the District’s Office of the Attorney General was present. Despite prodding from Watkins, the representative refused to address the residents. Boteler said that the U Street Task Force was an example of the judicial and public safety agencies working together. He concluded that the DC Council’s passage of the Secure DC omnibus crime law was a step in the right direction.

Shaw Main Streets Holds Annual Meeting

This year’s Shaw Main Streets Annual Meeting was opened by Board Chair Gretchen Wharton and Executive Director Alexander Padro. Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and Rosemary Suggs Evans, acting director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development, offered their greetings to the group. Then Padro presented highlights of the organization’s activities for the past year.

Padro started by noting that Shaw Main Streets had maintained its accreditation with the National Main Streets Center. It also presented a session at the National Main Streets Conference in Boston on LGBT small businesses, including an entrepreneur from Shaw. Shaw Main Streets has also kept the community informed about its small businesses through the Business Briefs and Shaw Streets columns in Mid-City DC, published by Capital Community News. Shaw Main Streets had continued to offer grants to neighborhood businesses and helped them apply for District grants, such as the Great Streets grant.

Responding to concerns about daytime illegal activity in the vicinity of Seventh and T streets NW, Shaw Main Streets helped to close a vestibule in a building that encouraged nefarious activity in an alley there. It also worked with the Howard Theater to establish First Friday Shaw Art Walks, once a month, on the 600 block of T Street, to bring a more festive vibe to the area.

Shaw Main Streets concluded its work with DC Water, supporting the businesses around the Northeast Boundary Tunnel construction site at Sixth Street and Rhode Island Avenue. Now that the tunnel is completed, the triangle park formerly on the construction site will be rededicated as Cooper-Gordon Park, named after two Shaw community activists, with a stainless steel sculpture installed.

Shaw Main Streets’ new year will start with the purchase of a Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck for the Shaw Clean Team. Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto secured funding for an environmentally friendly EV truck to replace an 18-year-old pickup that was at the end of its life. Shaw Main Streets will also partner with Mayor Bowser for a neighborhood cleanup on April 27. Eat. Drink. Shaw, the organization’s fundraising gala, will be held on June 4 at the Howard Theater. And a Shaw Open House will showcase neighborhood businesses on June 22. Art All Night Shaw takes place on September 28, and Small Business Saturday returns on November 30.

The final task of the night was to elect members of the Shaw Main Streets Board. The slate of officers getting new terms included Antwain Coward (District Cryo), Graham King (Urban Athletic Club), Cheryl A. Lofton (Cheryl A. Lofton and Associates), Meredith Pitts (Mid City Development) and Yared Tesfaye (1942 DC/U Street Holdings). The slate was elected unanimously. The meeting ended with the announcement that a raffle would be held for those who attended, with the winner getting dinner for two at the Ambar Shaw restaurant.

Drug Free Zone Set up in Shaw

The Metropolitan Police Department announced that it was setting up a Drug Free Zone in Shaw. Under the recently passed Secure DC Act, MPD is authorized to establish a drug free zone in a public space, where MPD officers can require groups of two or more people to disperse if they are congregating for illicit drug activity. A Drug Free Zone can be set up for a maximum of five days.

Shaw Main Streets and Howard Theatre established First Friday Art Walks at Seventh and T Streets to enliven the neighborhood. Photo: Alexander M. Padro, Courtesy Shaw Main Streets

The boundaries of the Shaw Drug Free Zone were the 600-700 blocks of Florida Avenue, 600-700 blocks of S Street, 1800 block of Sixth Street and 1800-1900 blocks of Eighth Street. A school, Cleveland Elementary, was in the zone. The zone was in effect Wednesday morning, April 3, and ended on Monday evening, April 8.

Eat. Drink. Shaw. Scheduled for June 4

Shaw Main Streets will hold its annual food and beverage showcase fundraiser, Eat. Drink. Shaw, on Tuesday evening, June 4, at the Howard Theater. Eat. Drink. Shaw. features the neighborhood’s world-renowned restaurants and bars to show what they do best. This year at least 20 Shaw restaurants will be offering unlimited food and drink for two-and-one-half hours. Hundreds of foodies and cocktail lovers will attend the ticketed event. For more information, visit www.eatdrinkshaw.com