October 20, 2020
Officers Present: Dan Schramm, Kathy Jacquart, Helen LaCroix, René McCray, Terence Hardy, Fred Jackson
Dan: Thank you for joining us this evening, it’s a pleasure to see neighbors’ faces and connect with our guests. We have a full agenda so we won’t spend a lot of time on preliminaries. Thanks to our officers who are here tonight.
Tess Bolen from Greater Brookland Intergenerational Village (GBIV) will speak about volunteering opportunities. Also Emma Brownstein is here from GBIV. We haven’t had a conversation recently from MPD, so Captain Moore is here. We’re also going to have a guest from Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, Dana McDaniels, she may join. We’ll get an ANC update from 5B03 Commissioner Henri Mekembe and we’ll hear from Marita Crawford Riddick from CM McDuffie’s office, replacing Nolan Treadway who used to represent the CM’s office at our meetings.
First up, our monthly treasurer’s report. I’ll turn it over to Terence.
Terence: Thanks everyone. For the month ending 9/30, our beginning balance was $6,86.41. We had a number of deposits coming in from membership dues and contributions to our GoGundme. Our income was $239.02. Our expenses were related to our donations to the Brookland Union Baptist Church food pantry and totaled $966.20. Our ending cash balance was $6,140.23. That’s my report.I’m passing it along to membership for approval.
Dan: Thank you Terence. Any questions?
Dan: Motion to approve seconded. No objections. Any objections to approving it?
None. Treasurers’ report accepted.
Dan: I wanted to highlight our fundraisers. At our last officer’s meeting we decided to expand the purpose of the fundraiser. We’ve been supporting the BUBC food pantry. Rene has been spending about $300/week for the food pantry. They’re open 9-11 on Tuesdays and Fridays. Please direct people in need to the pantry. I shared a video about it in my announcements for this meeting. There are other organizations in Brookland looking for assistance. We’d like to help them too, so going forward we have broadened the purpose of the fundraiser. Money could be used to support e.g. Pathways to housing, the Sterling, or Zoe’s Doors, etc. I encourage you to go to our GoFundme page. GoFundme does take a little chunk of the money. And I understand if you prefer to donate directly to the organizations themselves. The funds we’ve raised so far we will draw down just for the church. Any funding we raise going forward we will allocate to other organizations that have needs. Are there any questions?
Dan: Thank you to Rene and to Terence for handling this. Now, I’ll hand it over to Tess Bolen to talk about volunteer opportunities with GBIV. I did the volunteer training yesterday with Emma and it was informative and easy and I’m excited.
Tess Bolen: Good evening, everyone. I’m an intern with GBIV. I wanted to introduce you to the organization. Maybe some of you went to our launch event at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society. We are a new grassroots nonprofit dedicated to helping neighbors develop relationships and tools they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives. We offer 3 main things: social and wellness events (examples: our November meditation event, lecture on Beatles), breadmaking and painting workshops.The second thing is sharing information about aging well. For example, we have workshops on how to write a living will, and dating for those over 30. People can get assistance with yard work and technology assistance. Membership is open to anyone over 18 in Brookland, and it’s on a pay-what-you-can basis. Everything is socially distanced and virtual right now. We’re looking for volunteers who can do a variety of things–groceries shopping, checking in, chatting with neighbors, for example. If you are interested in attending an event, becoming a member, or becoming a volunteer, please contact me. We’re having a fundraiser called Great Chefs of Greater Brookland which will be a cooking show with local chefs. We’re looking forward to hearing from you in the future.
Dan: Thank you. To clarify–you can become a member, and that will get you access to activities and programming. As a member or not as a member, you can volunteer to provide assistance with one-on-one activities.
Tess: That’s right. Events are open to the community but membership gets you prime access. Some examples of events are an astronomy lecture on the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, a lecture on The Beatles, our online dating workshop.
Dan: I recommend Green Bank observatory in West Virginia for astronomy, by the way.
Kathy: That’s funded by NSF, where I work.
Dan: Questions for Tess?
Dan: You mentioned a similar opportunity with Seabury, Kathy, do you want to touch on that?
Kathy: Seabury is a longstanding organization working in Wards 5, 7, and 8. They have an age-in-place program where volunteers provide house cleaning and lawn care in communities for seniors. You can sign up as an individual or as a group. They’re just doing lawn care right now because of the pandemic. Seabury provides equipment and materials. It is fun to meet people and to help out seniors. I’ll put a link in the chat. They are desperate for volunteers. Suspended recruitment because of covid but have started again and really need them.
Dan: Thank you. Our next guest: Henri Mekembe, outgoing commissioner for ANC 5B03, which is in the southeastern part of Brookland.
Henri: Thank you to Fred and Dan for inviting me. I’ve been doing this 4 years and it’s been a great experience. This moment is a good one to reflect on where we are. We’re facing questions about development. We have a clash between how we develop responsibly and keep the character of Brookland. How do we develop affordably and keep Brookland’s diversity in age, race, income, etc. I have enjoyed meeting people who have been here since WWII and young families. We have to keep that balance. The second thing is safety. It’s been frustrating to look beyond MPD for resources–MPD does a good job, but they get involved too late. We’ll continue to need to work on those issues. Lastly is traffic–with Google Maps, Waze, we’re seeing traffic from MD increase constantly. There are a couple of people working on getting things in the neighborhood. We’ve found that extra stop signs and speed humps divert traffic to the next street over–we need a holistic approach. Those are the top 3 issues in our SMD. How do we integrate people moving into neighborhood. About 30% of my SMD has flipped over–we need more human conversations, rather than listserv bickering. How do we get to know people. I’ll say that the most frustrating experience has been dealing with paperwork, it is time consuming. I have a family and business and thanks to DC, I spend time on paperwork rather than helping people. One thing that’s good–Brookland has strong commissioners. Great to have a good working team to try to go to bat for people.
I’m proud of what I’ve done, though if there was one thing I could have done, it’s be better at communication. I started a newsletter and that was great but it was very hard to keep it going when work got really busy. Going forward, the Commission will have committees and that will really help–will help us to think holistically and learn from each other more, we’ll benefit from putting minds together in one room. There’s brainpower and history and lawyers to help us go to bat against the big guys when we need to.
Dan: Your term runs through the end of year?
Henri: The new ANC will get sworn in after new year, and there’s a meeting in January when CM swears in you again.
Dan: Prita Piekara is running for the spot.
Prieta: Yes, thank you, nice to be here. We moved to the area 3.5 years ago and have appreciated Henri’s leadership.
Henri: Thank you. I’m excited to see what you do next.
Dan: Seeing no other questions, let’s move on. Captain Moore is here from MPD. I did invite Commander Fitzgerald. Some context setting may be useful–when I reached out to the 5th District I mentioned a couple of things–first, the conversation about police reform that’s been ongoing over the last few months, our members are curious about what’s going on in 5th district with those efforts. I also mentioned the disturbing events we’ve been seeing across the neighborhood, including a double homicide. Peoples’ safety is at stake. I wanted some updates on those investigations.
Captain Moore: Thanks for having me. There was a temporary bill, that will be revisited, cut our funding by $15m, as a result of that, officers in the Police Academy will go out, but no new officers to fill the academy, there is a CM who wants to bring our numbers down. We have about 750k people, the city is growing, it doesn’t make sense to reduce the police force. Less officers means less coverage. We have a lot of protests. We send a CDU squad down several times a day–that’s a civil disturbance squad. Hopefully after the election protests will go down, but we’ll have to see which way it goes. When no protests are going on, CDU squads stay in districts, try to put them in the 1300 block in Brentwood Road if I have a say, it’s a hot spot.
Crime is up all over the city, especially violent crime. For our PSA 04, the boundaries are Rhode Island Avenue, Metro tracks, Michigan Avenue, and 20th Tt are boundaries. YTD violent crime is up. We’ve seen homicides go from 27 to 52 from 2019 to 2020. Property crime is down 23%. The past 30 days compared to prior 30 days, we’ve had a 12% decline in violent crime, hopefully that trend continues, and a 13% decrease in property crime. Criminals don’t care about Covid, they’re doing crimes regardless of the situation. What’s driving these stats is robberies–we had 14YTD last year, 30 this year. A lot of robbery guns. So many guns out there. So far we’ve recovered 182 guns, more than this time last year.
Let me go over violent crime. On Sept. 24 we had an armed carjacking on Randolph Tt, the car was later recovered east of Anacostia river. Two unlawful discharges. That means, we have evidence of a shooting but no victim, or shell casing, or property destruction. Had one on the 5th, one on Oct 6th, 1500 Brentwood Rd, 5 shell casings found, one went through a window. On 10th St., there was a robbery of a guy with earpods. There was a PNC bank robbery where 2 suspects robbed someone in the parking lot. There’s been a rash of robberies at/near banks in the area. We have a crime suppression team working on that now, looking at video. On 10th, we had a double murder. 1706 Irving st NE. On 12th, we arrested George Bernard Shaw, at that address. Suspect Shaw came out and shot two of the people who were outside. On the 17th we had 3 Honda airbag thefts, 1200 block Hamlin St. NE. Airbag theft was a big thing in Ft. Lincoln, also happening in MD and PG County, people are stealing lots of air bags. On June 6th, Marquis Harad killed someone at 15th and Brentwood, that case was closed with an arrest. Murder on 902 Irving, case is open, persons of interest we’re looking at. One group of guys was trying to target another group of guys, so it wasn’t random. In April we had juvenile brothers, living in PSA52, creating havoc all over the city, they’re being held, it was a 2-man crime spree. They carried out a robbery in Petworth, then came to Brookland and robbed people. 2 days later he was caught and arrested. In May we had a sex abuse on 12th st. in which older lady faced attempted rape, she was able to get away and flagged down an officer who caught the guy, case closed. In July Damani Sanders from Saratoga tried robbing someone on Brentwood Road, the victim drove away, we were able to ID Sanders from video and we caught him. In September we were having lots of burglaries on 12th st. Created a business beat 504 to concentrate on 12th st from Franklin to Michigan. Next day we caught someone who burglarized the dry cleaners, and another store. Sept. 25th we had threats and thefts from 7-11. Thefts from 7-11s. I have 7 7-11s in my sector, we have Walgreens, and CVS on 12th and RIA. There’s a group of kids that will go in, get stuff, and leave the store. There’s a security officer in Walgreens with arrest powers. That store now has armed security. We are looking at names of juveniles. Officer JP McCardle is on his motorcycle, he’s on Brentwood and 12th st. I keep a list of stay-aways from the 1300 block of RIA. We have a traffic car, it runs on the main corridors, especially RIA. Can look for cars based on tags, can intercept fleeing vehicles. Only one traffic car for 5th district but try to have him on RIA.
We see a lot of crimes of opportunity, for example UberEats delivery drivers whose cars are robbed while they are delivering food. People are distracted, trying to flyer so people are more aware. We have been leafleting grocery stories–when you take shopping carts to the corral, your car is unlocked. We are generally trying to raise awareness and make sure that people are paying attention.
Dan: Thank you, that was very thorough. It’s informative to hear how you operate, traffic cars and beat books etc. There’s a question in the chat box–what can be done, what resources can be brought to bear, on preventative side of things? What can MPD be doing to get to the root causes? Community policing?
Moore: we’re doing community outreach, we had a senior day, we’re doing things with kids even though the rec centers are closed. We have done community work, I just did a walk the other day, I have a meeting in Saratoga. Trying to get these kids steered in the right direction is tough. So easily influenced by the money and the lifestyle. Criminals and crew members are making money on drugs. Involved in shootings. Drug money buys guns, guns shoot people. We’re caving in to drugs. Drug charges are too often a slap on the wrist. Saratoga is known for selling weed–consequences are so minor they kind of laugh at it. Drug trade is the root a lot of the violence. We’re going in the wrong direction.
Henri: I want to commend the work of MPD. The work is too late on the curve, though. For kids to get to drugs they’ve had other issues beforehand. I’ve provided testimony to Council to that effect. MPD is being asked to do too much, that’s one of my frustrations. ONSE is vastly underfunded. We had shootings in Brentwood, Irving while I was ANC. It’s both worrying and relieving that the shootings were not random. These folks interact and know each other and we need to get in there to talk to them. Budget and manpower–boots on ground, success plan for each family, case work, it’s hard work and it takes years. If you’re successful you don’t hear about it because there’s no crime. I don’t necessarily think we need more officers, I have no complaints against MPD. We need to put pressure on the Council and agencies to bring services to Brookland, budget season is when we need to hit all the CMs, to bring services to Brookland. Need to go beyond McDuffie. We need CM White and Grosso. It will take a LOT to get to kids who have mental health, housing, whatever the issue is so kids don’t look to crime as a viable path. We know who is going to shoot who, we need to go in there and tell them not to shoot each other. We don’t have anything to have to deal with trauma for the neighborhood. I go to talk to neighbors and families after a shooting. We need trauma officers to talk to neighbors and families–shootings are traumatic experiences, makes me angry. Not the MPD’s fault but I hold CM’s offices and Mayor’s office responsible, that’s where my anger lies.
Dan: Other questions? Not hearing anything.
Verna Clayborne: I’m over on Brentwood Road and have been dealing with this for years. Very short strip, I’m wondering whether that strip could be designated a high density crime area, with some kind of a road block, barriers that couldn’t be moved by individuals, so you would block automobile traffic from MD. There are 10-15-20 cars selling drugs there sometimes.
Captain: We don’t have power to shut down a street, that would be DPW or DDOT. I wouldn’t mind it. I don’t know if Mr. Fernbach would want it, he owns all those stores. QuikTrip owner says we shine our lights too bright, he doesn’t want us there. We get lots of text tips there, but if they’re not inside the store but there’s a bar notice, we can’t do anything. If Council can get streets closed to cars that might help.
Rob Cooke: Can we get an update on Metro safety?
Captain: We’ve had some robberies there at the Metro, I don’t know about Sunday night specifically, I would have to get back to you about that.
Dan: Does Metro Transit Police have jurisdiction?
Captain: We’re first on scene because they’re going from station to station.
Dan: I do not see Deputy Daniels on the Zoom, is anyone on the line from ONSE?
Dan: Getting the Council to dedicate social services, trauma resources, violence interruption is really important. We really do want those resources. Issues with getting them fully funded. My understanding is those violence interrupters weren’t working in Brookland. Does anyone know if those resources are being devoted to Brookland, RI Corridor, Saratoga areas?
Captain: Cure the Streets is pretty much Trinidad. You have to have local people to establish trust. ONSE is in the Saratoga area, I’ve heard. Big crew is 18th and Otis, they’re not hanging out there as much as they used to. Allied with Saratoga, and Sursum Corda area. We try to stay on top on a daily basis to find out what’s happening, what the beefs are, hard to know what we’re preventing.
Henri: I had a meeting with that office in Woodridge, they’re working in Woodridge, they knew about shooting on Hamlin St, they’re working in the neighborhood but maybe not in Brookland proper. Their ask was, we need more manpower. It takes 4 or 5 visits to establish trust, they can then identify problem relatives.
Dan: good to know that some of that work is being expanded, it’s not enough and we need to push the city to devote more resources to it. Programs take time to work, it’s been slow to set up, it should be funded better, we should be thinking of them as long-term investments, and time is needed for them to work. Fact that there are shootings after the program is not evidence that the program doesn’t work.
Henri: ONSE should do a better job of communicating with the community. The fact that you didn’t know they are here is a problem. They need a metric or tracking system. DPR could create sports leagues. Can we make the program accessible? Job training programs here in our neighborhood so they don’t have to go downtown. There are some wins we can have if we rethink and redirect resources so they come here and we are not having to send people downtown.
Dan: Thank you. Moving on to announcements: ANC 5B has an upcoming meeting 4th Wednesday of the month at 6:30, you can go to their website, to find out more details.
Marita: CM McDuffie has introduced several bills to combat and address these issues. Was hoping to have more budget to have it start at running pace. Very supportive with ONSE programs. Neighbors patrolled their own neighbors when I was kid. Was all around DC, Ward 5, 7, maybe 8. You have a lot of great ideas, there’s a lot of conversation about the role of police, mental health, some people have mental and behavioral health challenges. That requires a budget. Economic divide in a community and people are suffering. More you give a young person, person has sense of belonging and investment,
Leaf Collection is beginning
DC Water is still available to help those who saw flooding.
Student support centers opening on the 29th. Town halls. 29 rec centers opening. Street teams are going to start partnering on cleanups.
I’ll take these concerns about violence interrupter and those points and will bring those back. Please let me know if there are things you want me to address at the next meeting.
Dan: If anything going on at Council affecting Brookland, we’re interested to know. Those updates were great.
Ra: The ANC 5B meeting is on October 28th, please visit anc5b.com, each commissioner will send a link, and the link will be on the website. Agenda will be about breast cancer and discussion about reopening of public and charter schools. Commissioner Carley is host commissioner.
We have invited CM McDuffie to the community for a Brookland meeting. Trying to get with Henri and Prita to finalize details. The meeting will be specifically to address the Comp Pan, and the recent uptick in crime. Want to get a date for that. Won’t be a BNCA meeting, SMD meeting, or an ANC meeting, just a Brookland meeting. Hopefully after the election, so we know who the CMs are. We want to see the at-large folks more.
I was in a Ward 5 Education Equity meeting last night and Principal Burks at Noyes are looking for volunteers to help with mentoring young people. Robotics, gardening, get them while they’re really young. Engaging them while they’re children.
Dan: That’s awesome, I’m excited to hear that. Connecting community to children and youth. Great way for people who are concerned not just about safety and crime but also making sure all have opportunities. Looking forward to getting the word out and getting people involved.
Our November meeting is the 2nd Nov of the month because of Thanksgiving.
Meeting adjourned, 8:34 pm