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Posted at 11:03 AM ET, 09/29/2008

On Violence in Nightlife Districts

By Julia Beizer

Last night violence gripped the Adams Morgan and U Street neighborhoods with two shootings. The first occurred at approximately 4:20 p.m. in an alley near 14th and T streets NW; the Adams Morgan shooting took place around 11 p.m. inside the Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant. You can read the full report here.

A Silver Spring resident who was in Adams Morgan last night was quoted in the Post story as saying, "I don't think I'm coming here again." Her reaction is understandable, but it also strikes me as extreme.

It's sad to say, but over the last five years living in D.C., I've grown used to the steady news of violence in our city. Typically, I get freaked out for a while and start taking cabs everywhere instead of walking. Then, after a few weeks without incident in the communities I frequent, I simply go back to my old ways. A few years ago, my neighborhood of Mount Pleasant was shocked, saddened and scared by the news of a young man who was shot walking his dog. For weeks, there were stop-the-violence meetings and heartfelt posts on the listserv. But soon the candlelight vigils stopped and our lives went back to normal in the neighborhood we call home. I went back to feeling that same (false?) sense of security I felt before.

Right now, I'm troubled by the fact that these shootings could happen in neighborhoods I go to all the time -- and even in the middle of the day. But realistically, I know I won't stop going to Adams Morgan or U Street just because of these incidents. If violence was the measure by which I determined where I could go in D.C., there wouldn't be too much of the city left to visit.

We want to know what you think. Does violence like this affect your nightlife habits?

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | September 29, 2008; 11:03 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Restaurants  
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I'm actually surprised something like this didn't happen sooner in Adams Morgan. Smoking ban + way too narrow sidewalks = people bumping into each other, and then people fighting with each other. They need to close 18th Street to vehicular traffic on Friday and Saturday nights, or else they're going to see more things like this happen.

Posted by: Matt | September 29, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Except this looks personal. It doesn't look like it was a random act of violence, or anything that would stem from people bumping into each other on a narrow street.

It's still shocking, but this sounds like it could have happened at any restaurant in any area of the city.

Posted by: DCGuy | September 29, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

yes, incidents do deter us from going out. we just do not know what type or loads and state of mind folks are in when in the mass environment. as usual the saying goes..."get-in and get-out" or get what you came to buy and leave. dont stick around.

Posted by: WHATONEARTH | September 29, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Violence like this does not affect my nightlife habits. True random acts of violence are very rare, and I can't control whether I will be a victim of it. But I'm not concerned about dying a violent death; I prefer to dine with people who are unlikely to shoot me mid-dinner. Of course, there's always a chance I could get it wrong and befriend a murderous sociopath, but if that were the case, I wouldn't blame the neighborhood so much as I would blame the person with the gun and then my own faulty assumptions.

Posted by: KH | September 29, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of violence, I noticed numerous police, ambulances and fire trucks last night at New Hampshire and S St, NW and the road was blocked off. Considering the amount of law enforcement and medical professionals, I can only assume someone died or was seriously injured. Does anyone know any details on this incident?

Posted by: 17th St | September 29, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Really, what do people expect?

This is what the District is about, in terms of urban living. It's never been safe, despite what those who move there would like to tell you.

It's not the suburbs.

Add alcohol to the mix and you're going to get violence. I moved out of D.C., 10 years ago, when it took 24 hours for the police to respond to a 911 call. I also stopped going into D.C., to visit clubs about then.

A nice evening out in downtown Bethesda is less likely to end in a restaurant or night club shooting. Sure, you may get your car broken into...or pickpocketed in a large crowd, but honestly, when was the last time you heard of something like this on Bethesda Ave., or on St. Elmo Ave.?

I am amused that anyone would be suprised about violence in Washington. Or that it would spark any intense discussion about safety or changing going-out habits.

Geez, just catch the 6 o'clock news on any given day of the week.

Posted by: Moved To Maryland | September 29, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I call Adams Morgan home, and it is out of control on 18th street every weekend. I agree with the first comment--a simple solution could be to close the street to traffic. The DC police obviously are not creative enough to come up with this solution, but it would do a lot to lessen friction in the area, and give people who are already looking to fight a "reason" to.

Posted by: Home is 18th and Columbia | September 29, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

ain't no 930 or black cat in the suburbs.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

There has also been an upswing in hate crimes, even though some are not reported as such, adn violence in general. One guy's partner was beat to the ground and knocked unconcious at the Pizza Mart on 18th because he asked the group of thugs why they were being harassed for being gay. The Pizza Mart employee's response? To say "next in line" while the guy's partner tried to get 911 on the phone. I love living in the City & enjoy everything it has to offer but the violence is getting out of hand.

Posted by: Juantana | September 30, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"A nice evening out in downtown Bethesda is less likely to end in a restaurant or night club shooting. Sure, you may get your car broken into...or pickpocketed in a large crowd, but honestly, when was the last time you heard of something like this on Bethesda Ave., or on St. Elmo Ave.?"

I live near Bethesda, but if I had to go to the bars there all the time... I'd kill myself, wouldn't need someone else to do it.

Posted by: Kev | September 30, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

To the girl from Silver Spring that won't come back to Adams Morgan: Good Riddens...I would never go to Silver Sring in the first place.

Posted by: Adams Morgan Resident | September 30, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I heard all about the danger and violence in this city before I moved here about a month ago. Unfortunately, my first night out in Adams Morgan was followed by my roomate and I being held up at gun point during our walk home. Although this was obviously unexpected, I think "staying in" or going to a "safer" place will be contradictory the reasons I moved to an urban area in the first place. See you all Friday on 18th St.!

Posted by: Adam | September 30, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

To the girl from Silver Spring that won't come back to Adams Morgan: Good Riddens...I would never go to Silver Sring in the first place.

Posted by: Adams Morgan Resident | September 30, 2008 11:39 AM

Kind of a shame, because there are a lot of things to do in Silver Spring nowadays - and more coming in the future. A world class movie theater (AFI Silver), a theater company (Round House) and hopefully a top notch music venue (Fillmore, pending approval). All things you can't really get in Adams Morgan. Heck, nothing in the city can compare with AFI, if you ask me. You can however, get barfed on by plenty of twentysomethings in AM, so you got that going for you.

Posted by: Kev | September 30, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

DC has one of the highest crime rates in the country, and has for years. In case you didn't notice, there is a significant population of unemployed, uneducated, and apathetic people who live mostly in the other 3 quadrants of the city, but also in northwest. Having said that, they are usually the perpetrators of most of the crime. And as our economy gets worse, you can expect people to get angrier and more desperate. Have good street sense, and hopefully you won't be one of the random victims.

Posted by: dc gal | September 30, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

New website for Dc area. Enjoy

Posted by: Michael | September 30, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I've been going to AM for years. About five years ago a riot nearly broke with at least a dozen fights going on and people pulling out machetes in the middle of the street. AM is crime infested, you can get a fake social security card a hooker and an eight-ball all on the corner of 18th and Columbia at any given time.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 2, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

as someone who bartended for years in Adams Morgan and lived in the heart of the neighborhood i can say that since i left last year, i have not gone back.going to or from my bar I witnessed a lot of fights going on outside. i once saw a man with a huge knife just run down the street. once there was a random human thumb on the side walk. i've seen a girl get punched. my cousin came to visit me and was mugged at gunpoint before she and her friends got to the bar. once when driving down columbia road there was a man stone cold dead laying in the middle of the street and the cops had just pulled up, someone else was running idea if he got shot or hit by a car or what. my car got stolen outside my apartment. a girl once whipped out a small pocketknife and was about to jump another girl. people who don't even go to the bars park and party on 18th street around closing time. ended up leaving bartending for grad school and there is nothing about adams morgan that i miss, from the bad smell to the bad traffic to the panhandling and crime epidemics. as a 27 year old female, it is simply not an option. and no it is not extreme to not want to hang out somewhere where people get shot. my advice: downtown or georgetown. they have much better bars anyway.

Posted by: Anna | October 5, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

It really is difficult to enjoy the neighborhood that I have lived in for the last 15 years. It is a huge effort to go out on weekends, what with all the amateurs and losers hanging out waiting to start trouble. Just last Saturday someone shot six rounds outside of Madams Organ. No one got hit which is amazing. But the panic was really sad to see. I wonder if the kids who come in from the burbs are really having a good time. It really does not seem worth the effort.

Posted by: Bill | October 6, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

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