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Anger, confusion at Fenty press conference on D.C. shootings

Washington Post Editors

Like any politician, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) likes to control the settings in which he appears before TV cameras.

This was never more evident than Thursday evening during a strange scene in front of District police headquarters at a press conference that almost didn’t occur.

After news broke in the morning about the 14-year-old boy wrongly arrested in last month’s drive-by shooting and mass killing in the District, Fenty’s office e-mailed reporters at 4:24 p.m., saying the mayor, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles would hold a 5 p.m. press conference at the headquarters building on Indiana Avenue NW.

A half-dozen TV news crews arrived and were told to set up their equipment outside the building. They hurriedly did so -- a laborious process, with their cameras, microphones and tangle of cables snaking to satellite trucks in the street. The mayor’s lectern, bearing the D.C. government seal, was at the foot of the stairs in front of headquarters. By 5 p.m., everything was in place, and the reporters stood waiting for Fenty, Nickles and Lanier to appear.

Then a group of angry people arrived outside the building, including Nardyne Jefferies, mother of 16-year-old Brishell Jones, one of the four victims killed in the March 30 drive-by shooting; and Norman Williams, father of 20-year-old Jordan Howe, whose March 22 fatal shooting touched off the cycle of retaliation that led to the drive-by attack a week later. They said they had heard about the scheduled press conference and had come to confront the officials about the continuing violence on D.C. streets.

Jefferies held a morgue snapshot, blown up to 8 ½-by-11-inches, showing her daughter with a gaping bullet wound on the left side of her head -- not exactly pleasant TV for the mayor.

Seeing Jefferies and Williams outside, and apparently realizing why they were there, a couple of Fenty staffers in front of the building began furiously typing on their BlackBerrys. Moments later, another Fenty aide appeared at the mayor’s lectern and announced that the news conference had been moved: It would not be held in public, she said, but inside the headquarters building, on the third floor.

The TV crews howled in protest, saying they were on deadline and complaining about how long it would take to break down their equipment, haul it upstairs and set it up again. But the staffer was adamant, saying Fenty, Nickles and Lanier would not be coming outside. She would not explain why.

The reporters were accustomed to the Fenty administration’s efforts to control media images. And it seemed that everyone outside building reached a sort of breaking point at the same time. This wasn’t Rosa Parks on the bus, of course, and no one chanted “Attica!” -- but it was a clear moment of solidarity.

No, said the journalists -- not softly. They were not going to move.

The standoff dragged on. A pair of city workers quickly showed up and told the TV crews to remove their microphones from the lectern. Then the workers folded up the lectern and carted it away on a dolly. A pastor representing Jefferies, Williams and the other angry people announced that they would hold a press conference of their own -- and said they would talk only with reporters who stayed outside the building, and not with any who acquiesced to Fenty and went inside.

The TV crews set up a microphone stand in place of the hauled-away lectern.

“They don’t want to address this in public. That’s why they won’t come out here,” said Jefferies, displaying the photo of her daughter. “They don’t want to look up in our faces and explain to us why not only our children have been slaughtered, but so many children before.”

“They’re afraid to address the real public,” Williams said. “And since they’re public servants, they should have a press conference out here. Don’t be afraid of the real public.”

Fenty, Nickles and Lanier finally emerged from the building about 6 p.m. -- an hour after the scheduled start of the press conference. Jefferies, Williams and the others stood quietly by while the mayor, chief and attorney general spoke. The family members allowed the officials to finish explaining why the teenager had been wrongly charged in the drive-by shooting before confronting them about violence in the city. When Fenty, Nickles and Lanier were done, and were turning to leave, a TV reporter began peppering them with questions about their delayed appearance outside.

“Can anyone explain why the press conference was moved inside?”

Fenty shrugged it off, offering no clear answer. “As we said in the beginning, we kept you all waiting, and we apologize,” the mayor said. “I think we were just trying to let everybody -- we didn’t know how long we were going to be, so we apologize."

“Why move it inside?” the reporter asked. “Because you didn’t want to be around the family members?”

“We just didn’t want to keep people waiting,” Fenty replied. “We apologize for taking so long.” Then he turned again to walk away, with a slight wave. “Thank you all very much.”

He and Lanier quickly disappeared into the building -- before Jefferies, Williams and the others had a chance to confront them. The only official to remain outside was Nickles, standing face-to-face with Jefferies and Williams, surrounded by TV cameras, as Williams jabbed a finger and loudly harangued the attorney general about gun violence on the streets.

Nickles listened, nodding politely, saying little.

-- Paul Duggan

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 23, 2010; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  Homicide , Paul Duggan , The District  
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Comments

Please don't get on here and just bash Fenty...show him how you really feel when you get out there and vote his sorry a** out of office!

Posted by: Gtown10 | April 23, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

WASH POST didn't like the comment I just posted. Hmm... Oh-kay...

Should I run my future postings past the WASH POST censor? I sure don't want to offend anyone.

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

WE HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

So the family members are upset at the mayor? For what reason?

These folks perpetuate generations of violance, poorness in their neighborhoods depsite having billions upon billions thrown at the problem and they are mad at the mayor?

Perhaps if they left the ghetto, taught their kids to respect authority and that a life is worth more than a braclet (or whatever started this whole thing), and that 9 arrests by the age of 13 isn't an accomplishment, then maybe their blame would have some teeth.

You guys want to blame someone...the blame starts with you.

Posted by: Nosh1 | April 23, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

If Fenty and Lanier can't face the public on the issue - they need to step down. Its ridiculous to take jobs in a city like DC with its high rate of crime - then dodge the very people they are there to serve. Kudos to the reporters as well, for making their arses come outside.

Posted by: Libramom | April 23, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

A very powerful act of responsibility would be if the father of each illegitimate child who was a victim of the illegitimate Carters, would posthumously legitimize their children by legally conferring upon them, their last names.

Fenty and Lanier showing up to take the heat for a problem they didn't create is absolutely okay.

Posted by: DC3Y3SONTH3PRIZ3 | April 23, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Nash said:
So the family members are upset at the mayor? For what reason?

These folks perpetuate generations of violance, poorness in their neighborhoods depsite having billions upon billions thrown at the problem and they are mad at the mayor?

Perhaps if they left the ghetto, taught their kids to respect authority and that a life is worth more than a braclet (or whatever started this whole thing), and that 9 arrests by the age of 13 isn't an accomplishment, then maybe their blame would have some teeth.

You guys want to blame someone...the blame starts with you.

NASH: SHUT UP. SHUT UP AND SHUT UP AGAIN. WHO ARE YOU TO PASS JUDGMENT ON PEOPLE? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE TEACHING THEIR KIDS. IF YOU HAVE KIDS, HOW ARE YOU TREATING THEM. ANY BTW, HOW DID YOU PARENTS TREAT YOU TO MAKE COMMENTS SUCH AS THE ONE ABOVE.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN BUSINESS

WHAT ARE YOU A PERFECT PERSON.


Posted by: samvped205 | April 23, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Nash said:
So the family members are upset at the mayor? For what reason?

These folks perpetuate generations of violance, poorness in their neighborhoods depsite having billions upon billions thrown at the problem and they are mad at the mayor?

Perhaps if they left the ghetto, taught their kids to respect authority and that a life is worth more than a braclet (or whatever started this whole thing), and that 9 arrests by the age of 13 isn't an accomplishment, then maybe their blame would have some teeth.

You guys want to blame someone...the blame starts with you.

NASH: SHUT UP. SHUT UP AND SHUT UP AGAIN. WHO ARE YOU TO PASS JUDGMENT ON PEOPLE? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE TEACHING THEIR KIDS. IF YOU HAVE KIDS, HOW ARE YOU TREATING THEM. ANY BTW, HOW DID YOU PARENTS TREAT YOU TO MAKE COMMENTS SUCH AS THE ONE ABOVE.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN BUSINESS

WHAT ARE YOU A PERFECT PERSON.


Posted by: samvped205 | April 23, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I love the WASH POST. One of the two best newspapers in the country.

Maybe this comment will survive.

I understand the anger of parents whose children have been shot & killed but their anger is misplaced. It should not be directed at the Mayor or police.

Unless you have who knows how many millions to give to DC gov so they can hire enough police to put on every block 24-7.

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I love the WASH POST. One of the two best newspapers in the country.

Maybe this comment will survive.

I understand the anger of parents whose children have been shot & killed but their anger is misplaced. It should not be directed at the Mayor or police.

Unless you have who knows how many millions to give to DC gov so they can hire enough police to put an office on every block of the city 24-7.

Got any bright ideas?

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I love the WASH POST. One of the two best newspapers in the country.

Maybe this comment will survive.

I understand the anger of parents whose children have been shot & killed but their anger is misplaced. It should not be directed at the Mayor or police.

Unless you have who knows how many millions to give to DC gov so they can hire enough police to put an officer in a cop car on every block of the high crime areas of the city 24-7. Maybe have non-stop patrols by helicopters too.

Got any bright ideas?

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The families confronted Fenty about the killings? Wow, I wasn't aware Fenty was involved in the murders.

I understand that people are angry but they should take that angry energy and use it to improve their communities so that young people can stop solving their problems by killing each other. The government can only do but so much. I suppose the government could round up people randomly who may be a threat to the public and hold them in prison indefinitely without a trial. But then these same angry parents will fight and complain about that solution as being unfair and unconstitutional when it's their child who is imprisoned.

Posted by: aspe4 | April 23, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Gutless, spineless cowards. Of course the residents would reject as racial profiling the REAL policing that would be required to put an end to the violence, so in the end, they get what they deserve. And the beat goes on.


Posted by: savethepcbs | April 23, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Get your family out of the ghetto. <-- PERIOD

The house in the background of the photos after the shooting had a "No Soliciting" sign nailed to a tree stump... to me that's a bad sign... just sayin

Posted by: rockettonu | April 23, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I think Fenty was avoiding the parents of the victims in last months shooting becuase he is out of touch with the Black community. When it took him and police chief Lanier 48 hours to come forward and address the situation with a press confernce..that was just deplorable. He is the city's top executive and to have such a think happen with no comment for that long is just beyond unacceptable.

I think Fenty's time is up!!

Posted by: rosec3 | April 23, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

If you want to reduce violence on DC streets, campaign to allow residents to carry concealed handguns. The thugs may be tempted to get legitimate jobs.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 23, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

this isn't good for anybody.

Fenty's apparently really unlikeable..

Posted by: ObamaisFraud | April 23, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

They shouldnt be confronting the Mayor & Police Chief they should be confronting the parents of the kids who killed their children. Thats exactly what I would do. Let them take the heat for their childrens actions. They raised them to act like animals they didnt get that way themselves. My heart does go out to the parents who lost their kids for no reason at all.

Posted by: nickatnight69 | April 23, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

How could the mayor & police chief have stopped this from happening. Think, people. Be reasonable. You want the National Guard to move in to the District permanently?

You reap what you sow.

Babies having babies.

"Fathers" who are playas/ladies men. Disappear to another state when the girl says she's pregnant. Guy is too stupid & irresponsible to use a condom when he sleeps with naive, silly girls. Kids run wild. No one cares where they are, what they're doing or how late they stay out.

"I'm proud of my son. He's out dealing drugs now & bringing money into the household. So what if he hasn't been in school for a year & a half. I left school in the 6th grade. That was enough for me."

Thugs would rather chew off their penis than get a 9-to-5 job like all of us "suckers." That is HELL to them. Non-stop, unbearable torture of the highest degree.

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Although I don't expect the Mayor Fenty, Police Chief Lanier or Attorney General Nickles to solve the problem of teen violence in the district alone, I do expect "City Leaders" to not tuck tail and run simply because they don't want to be confronted by angry residents.

The citizens that they chose to run from were personally touched by the tragic events that were the subject of the press conference. Since Mayor Fenty, Chief Lanier and AG Nickles did not respect them enough to explain the turn of events to them in advance the least they could have done was to allow them the opportunity to vent their frustrations. In my opinion, that is what true leaders would have done.

The District of Columbia does not need cowards running the city we have more than enough of them destroying it.

Posted by: Taxpayer26 | April 23, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

If I had a son/daughter & he was shot & killed by a hoodlum, what in the name of L. Ron Hubbard is the mayor or police chief gonna say to me that makes me feel better?

Other than an opportunity to let out grief & anger, what would be the point of me schlepping over to city hall?

If you do that every time a black man kills a black person then the mayor might as well appoint a full-time inner city/community grief counsellor.

It wouldn't occur to me to do it. Not in a million years. Only people I would want to take to after the murder of my kid would be family, close friends or my minister/clergyman/monk.

Posted by: uncivil | April 23, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

While I feel tremendous sorrow for these folks' tragic loss, it is simply misguided for them, and so many others, to think that 'government' is responsible for, or can solve, the senseless gun violence that occurs in the District.

Fenty is still an idiot, tho. Can't wait 'til he's drummed out of office.

Posted by: sheckycat | April 23, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

xxx

Posted by: Taxpayer26 | April 24, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

xxx

Posted by: missbrev | April 24, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

I understand the grief the families are feeling but CONFRONTING the mayor and officials during a news conference is not the way to go about it...

Everyone should be thankful that the youth originally thought to be a participant was cleared of any charges...who wants an innocent person jailed???? Just be glad the police are persistent in bringing the thugs to justice no matter how long it takes...

Posted by: pentagon40 | April 24, 2010 3:03 AM | Report abuse

Surprised?? You shouldn't be, in addition to shoddy police work and a lack of real compassion shown by this mayor; controlling the situation and ignoring grieving families this administration has basically spit in the face of the victims Fenty's refusal to show one iota of sorrow toward these families reeks of a real disconnect Mayor Fenty and his cronies has toward the poor and has had since his election, bottom line Fenty does not care, as an attorney and a trustee Fenty stole money from an elderly women's account yet some of you who complain about him now voted for him. Adrian Fenty does not care about the poor and the least of these in the DC community and he never will.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 24, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

This is a report of erratic behavior on the part of a public official of whom reliability is expected.

All the same, what are the mothers complaining about? Rapid police work?

Posted by: amturnip | April 24, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

so what's new?

Posted by: SCOTTSCHMIDTT | April 24, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The loss of life, esp a child's, is senseless within this city and it is easy to point fingers at the Mayor, Police Chief and others for this occurrence all too often. However, where is the community - the entire community esp. SE residents - going to take responsibility for their role. When it happens how often do we hear of not being able to get a resident to come forth with evidence for fear of retaliation; an acceptance of this type of behavior that like alcohol and illegal drugs are found in all areas it seems with no active community effort to stop this by not allowing it themselves; and finally many of their anger issues directed at the police rather than working with them as a team. Yes there is unemployment, poverty and other social issues, but the community often led by Mr. Berry often leads the group against the police and city officials rather than enough as many other communities have done. That a group of angry family members would show up demanding that police and the mayor stop the violence is pathetic and impossible w/o the communities overall cooperation - a joint venture.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | April 24, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Why would Fenty care?
Without DC's ghetto pig culture producing b a s t a r d children there wouldn't be free cash from Congress.

You uber liberal degenerates are lucky this country has Christian morals.
Otherwise you would either have to adjust to civilized culture, be executed or starve.

Posted by: TheShadow1 | April 24, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

One thing we know for certain, during the years that the antiquated gun control laws were in effect, Washington, DC was the murder capitol of the World!!! Over the last two years since the Supreme Court ruling overturned those antiquated and failed gun control laws, murder and crime have dropped drastically in DC. Why don't the local politicians step aside, admit that gun control was, and is a failed policy, and let someone else's ideas try to work? Instead they are still clinging on to a failed policy of gun control in any way possible and are wasting tax payer money in large amounts fighting legal battles they are not winning. It makes no sense.

Posted by: Wrong1 | April 24, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

This was said by uncivil(ironically)

You reap what you sow.

Babies having babies.

"Fathers" who are playas/ladies men. Disappear to another state when the girl says she's pregnant. Guy is too stupid & irresponsible to use a condom when he sleeps with naive, silly girls. Kids run wild. No one cares where they are, what they're doing or how late they stay out.

"I'm proud of my son. He's out dealing drugs now & bringing money into the household. So what if he hasn't been in school for a year & a half. I left school in the 6th grade. That was enough for me."

Thugs would rather chew off their penis than get a 9-to-5 job like all of us "suckers." That is HELL to them. Non-stop, unbearable torture of the highest degree.

End Quote.

Really? Um when did not having a father men a life of crime first of all. Second of all When a man and woman lie down together when did I become just the mans problem to protect them both. Women have no blame? And for that matter. WTF does that have to do with the topic? I grew up without a dad yet I still made it. I never shot anyone. Hell I never even held a gun before. You say the girls naive and the man is irresponsible. Really? Wait. Let me read that once more.... Yeah. Still sounds stupid. Look if you gonna blame someone, blame the parent(s). It is not the goverment jobs to watch our kids. Its not the schools job to educate our kids(I know, strange isnt it?). Parents have spent years letting others raise their children(school, tv, video games, streets) and yet when they are desensitized to the violence they see everyday because of it, then everyone wants to get up in arms all of a sudden. Yeah so they may not have a father figure. SO WHAT! If everybody who didnt have both parents at home decided well hell thats an excuse to commit crimes, we would live in a policed state. Do we want that or do we want to take some responsibility for once? What about the kids that died? Yeah I blame their parents too because first and formost... WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY DOING OUTSIDE IN THE FIRST PLACE??? All under 18 or real close to it. But its the mayors fault? While were at it lets blame the entire goverment. Yup all of them. Joint Chiefs. Secretary of State. The House. The Senate. The army. The navy. Lets blame the coast guard! OR, for once, lets look in the mirror and take responsibilty for the products we send out into the streets. We arent raising boys and girls, we are raising men and women. So lets act like it and stop blaming everyone else for our own failures. smdh.

Posted by: KaosTheori | April 25, 2010 3:22 AM | Report abuse

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