I've lived in DC four years and Columbia Heights for 2-ish, including Mount Pleasant.
I've realized that the way C. Heights was set up was to be kind of a welcoming hangout, especially around the Julia's (may she RIP) and Froyo joints with the fountain there and the cement benches.
Yet most of the hanging happening in the neighborhood is done by perpetual street vendors selling cheap hats, oils, colognes, and sunglasses outside Target, as well as loiterers around 7-11 and the Columbia Heights Metro stop (by Five Guys and Potbelly).
So here's the concern: Why is the loitering allowed? I couldn't care less about the street vendors, it's the loitering around my commute to the Metro that makes me and my friends uncomfortable.
I literally witness the the passing of drugs between people by 7-11 and the Metro on a daily basis. At least, I'm pretty sure what I see them passing between hand shakes and pockets aren't valentine's or candy... No one should be blind to this activity either, especially considering the amount of police activity in the area, sometimes parked not twenty feet from all of this.
And maybe it's these poor saps livelihoods, selling drugs at the Metro from 7am - 6pm every day, maybe even on holidays. Not a fun job either, I imagine, but it really makes me wary of my surroundings and uncomfortable to walk around the area. It also freaks out my friends who commute to my house, having to avoid people standing in the middle of the sidewalk, or attempting to cross the street to avoid walking by this kind of thing.
Is there any reason police ignore this? I'm no detective, but this isn't a rocket science fix for safety. It also seems to be a theme around this area where people just look the other way to shady business. Anecdote: When I lived closer to Howard last year, it was a known fact the person next door sold stolen bikes for a living. He hid them behind a house on a nightly basis and people looked the other way, as to "mind their business," as it were. Plus, who wants to be the end of someone else's rent check in this expensive city, even if it is petty crime we're talking.
Anyway, police complaints are obviously an action, but I feel weird even mentioning this concern as a white person, due to all the stigma associated with judging cultural pastimes. Still, I feel no matter who you are and who the people committing crime in your neighborhood are, you'd feel safer if police actually DID something about obvious CRIME, or there were laws (or signs) in place to reduce discomfort to residents.
What do people think? If you saw someone pass a little baggy to someone else for money in your neighborhood, would you do anything about it? Or, would you go on your merry way saying, "Oh, well, that's just Columbia Heights"? I certainly haven't.
Some interesting points, but I'm not sure I agree with them all. What do you think?
For one, I'm not bothered by the vendors, and I've actually bought stuff from them before: sunglasses, mittens, books and such.
As for the drugs, I can't say I've noticed people passing drugs outside the 7-Eleven, but maybe I'm just not looking for it. I have noticed a little in the past around 14th and Euclid. That said, police have always said at community meetings that if you notice people selling or doing drugs or prostitution, to call them. Even if they can't get there in time or they don't have evidence (which is probably why they don't do a lot of arrests, like the reader is talking about) then at least they have a report of it, which they use in planning where officers should go and patrol. The more reports in one area, the more they will focus on that. So even if you don't think anything will happen, call the police.
But that's my opinion. What do you think? Do you agree with the reader?