ANC 6C Discusses Neighborhood Crime and Prosecution Concerns

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WASHINGTON D.C., USA - MAY 31, 2020: Police are positioned to confront protesters during the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police in Washington, D.C.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C met on June 14 via WebEx. Commissioners Christy Kwan (6C01), Leslie Merkle (6C02, secretary), Commissioner Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (6C04, chair), Commissioner Joel Kelty (6C05, treasurer) and Tony Goodman (6C07, vice chair) were present. Commissioner Patricia Eguino (6C06) was absent.

Neighborhood crime, centered on the H Street NE commercial corridor, was the central concern of the commission at its September meeting. Commissioners were incensed by decisions of the US Attorney Office (USAO) to decline prosecution of criminal offenders arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

“Residents are no longer comfortable visiting the quarter and frequenting the businesses there,” stated Commissioner Kelty. He attributed the recent closure of several businesses including Kitchen Cray, Beer Garden and Dirty Water to crime. Illegal drug sales continue to afflict nearby streets, he said.

MPD officers, Kelty reported, feel making arrests is “pointless” because the cases will not be prosecuted. He highlighted two cases specifically involving two adults arrested for the distribution of a controlled substance.

“MPD has done their job, and now, the US Attorney’s office needs to do its job and protect our neighborhood,” Kelty said. “This is a chance for the community to back the police department in protecting us,” he stated emphasizing the importance of community support for MPD.

Commissioner Goodman echoed Kelty’s concerns. However, he also encouraged the commission to consider alternative approaches, including the consideration of the development of a crime committee as “none of [these issues] are unique to our agency.” 

Commissioners Merkle and Kwan debated the benefits of an establishing a public safety related committee. Commissioner Eckenwiler suggested it be discussed at a later date.

The commission voted to write to US Attorney Matthew Graves, Assistant US Attorney Douglas Klein, Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen (D), MPD Acting Chief of Police Pamela Smith and First District Commander Colin Hall expressing concern about several crimes the US Attorney’s office has declined to prosecute. In particular, they asked for the prosecutorial status of two recent H Street NE arrest cases.

Other Matters

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) red line service will be unavailable at Farragut North Metro Center and Gallery Place stations from Dec. 18 to 30. Additionally, the Judiciary Square station will close rom Dec. 22 to. 24. Visit wmata.com for more information about the closure and to plan alternative routes.

Commissioners discussed Reservation 315, a parklet located at Fifth & I Streets NE, currently under the authority of the National Park Service (NPS). Several years ago, the NPS agreed to transfer the land to the District; however, the DC government has yet to accept the property. The commission sent letters to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in June 2021 and October 2022 without response. They discussed sending another letter to Bowser’s office, but took no action.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) issued a notice of intent (NIO) to restripe the 600 and 700 blocks of K Street NE after repaving and to include protected bike lanes on both sides of the street. This would require removing parking on the south side of the street. The public comment period for this project closed on Aug. 31, however several community members expressed opposition to these bike lanes and frustration with the lack of communication from DDOT. The commission took no action on the matter.

The commission voted to:

• approve an expenditure of $1,560 to place ads in the Hill Rag to alert the community  to upcoming meetings of ANC 6C;

• write to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen and DDOT in support of changes to the underpasses at both M and L Streets NE to restore the use of the underpasses;

• oppose the Historic Preservation Application (HPA) for 621 Maryland Ave. NE for a new roof structure on an existing roof deck due to several elements that will be visible above the cornice of the property;

• write again to Mayor Bowser, the DC Council and the Acting Chief of Police regarding public safety and crime in the H Street NE corridor. The commission previously sent a letter highlighting similar concerns about an increase in crime and illegal drug sales 11 months ago and has yet to receive a response;

ANC 6C will next meet on October 11 at 7 p.m. via WebEx. Visit anc6c.org to learn more about the commission and register to attend the meeting.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.