Tuesday, October 26, 2010

two suspicious 20-something black males milling around the neighborhood

See this 10/26/2010 message from a Rhode Island Avenue NW resident:

I`ve noticed that there are two early twenty something black males milling about at the intersections of 4th/Florida/3rd/Rhode Island NW. One has mid-back length dreadlocks and the other a close cut skin fade, slender build with a thuggish gait. The one with dreads was the one on a bike and the other (wearing an awful sub-zero winter coat - too hot for yesterday`s weather) was walking either in front or behind. Yesterday, as I was crossing Rhode Island Avenue, headed north on 3th street NW I noticed that they slowed their pace considerably in order for me to walk in front of them. I realized this and immediately shot across the street (it`s the BedStuy Brooklyn in me that sensed that these cats were up to no good). Anyway, they noticed my redirection across the street and turned around to head south on 3rd, back across Rhode Island

I got in my car and called 911 - it was obvious that these folks were looking to do a quick job to someone coming home from the Metro or some other pedestrian on foot. I flagged down a cruiser at R and 5th NW and just as I was talking to the officer, by us they strolled. It`s clear that they are taking the route to the east from Shaw Metro into LeDroit and Bloomingdale.

Be aware of your surroundings and don`t hesitate to call the police should you get a sense that you are being followed or are otherwise in danger.

And, for those who want to know, I too am a black male and have no malice intended by my aforesaid description.


  1. WOW!!!! The level of bitch in some men! Maybe you should have tried speaking to them looking them in the eye and then using some type of humanity to ascertain the level of interest they truly had in you. The police. WILL NOT save yo black ass. And PS I'm a black Howard University female with two younger brother (local college students as well) that fit that description. Kill yourself, or at least your ideas.

  2. I defintely think that there are a lot of 20 and 30'ish looking white people that look suspicious around here too. They wouldn't have been here 10 years ago when our neighborhood was going through it.

  3. brit,
    don't be so defensive of naive.

  4. What's offensive is Brit's comment to "Kill yourself". I know she was trying to make a point, but that's a little harsh.

  5. Thanks Britt for your vote of confidence in my ability to see when I'm being followed/stalked with a plan afoot to potentially be robbed. Also, I mentioned that I noticed not just one thing, but several very troubling actions which, in totality and context, added up to a level of discomfort that caused alarm. They were not walking in tandem or just waiting for the bus... When I said "thuggish gait" I meant that the fella looked as though he was no stranger to a prison and very well might have been packing heat and up to no good. I'm no fool, I grew up in one of the roughest areas of BedStuy Brooklyn, right next to a set of public housing projects, so before we go off on some tangent claiming that I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about please know that 'game knows game'. There was a time, long before undergrad and grad and law school, when I too was a high school drop out running with a crowd of folks that fit the description of those I witnessed and reported. I'm not playing naive to satisfy your or any other folks' judgment of my actions. I realized what they were doing and I chose not to relegate those thoughts in the back of my mind and think more pleasant thoughts - like that they were somehow innocents peddling their sisters' girl scout cookies.

    What would you rather have me say? In your world I imagine the following posting to Scott: Well, I kept on walking down the street (not wanting to pass judgment and wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt) and one of them hit me in the head with a bottle and took my iPhone and wallet. Oh, our Bloomingdale is so great (please those who are making it this way don't leave)? Don't be a fucking fool!

    Now, lastly, had they been white, I would have posted the same exact message on the board. I wouldn't have needed to couch it with the last sentence because only those who 'think' something is racially motivated go directly to the race card when the complaintant is themselves not the same race as those they complain against. I wanted to stop that shit right in its tracks and say "hold up, I'm black and you're damn right I'm telling on my OWN people". I don't have an obligation to hold my tongue simply because the perps are black when I myself am also black. That's stupid! And, if I offended you with my post, that, I'm sure, is not the first time you've been offended and I'm sure not the last either. Take it for what it is and step on...

  6. I live near 2nd and T and on Monday the police knocked on my door and said that one of the neighbors reported a suspicious man sitting on my downstairs neighbor's back porch. Later that night I talked to the neighbor, a longtime Bloomingdale resident, who had called the police and she said that a guy with a bike and a heavy jacket was sitting on the porch for at least a half an hour. She wasn't sure how long he had been there before she saw him. He had split by the time the police arrived. I'm not saying it's the same guy, but I just thought I'd add that to the conversation. Also, he didn't do anything but sit on the porch, but still a little weird.

  7. I wanted to comment on this section of the response to Britt:

    "Now, lastly, had they been white, I would have posted the same exact message on the board. I wouldn't have needed to couch it with the last sentence because only those who 'think' something is racially motivated go directly to the race card when the complaintant is themselves not the same race as those they complain against. I wanted to stop that shit right in its tracks and say "hold up, I'm black and you're damn right I'm telling on my OWN people". I don't have an obligation to hold my tongue simply because the perps are black when I myself am also black. That's stupid!"

    As a member of another "minority" (I am Latino), I couldn't agree more with this comment. It is a complete lie that we as "ethnic groups" need to stick together, even in the face of terrible actions. By doing that we are just perpetuating a separation among groups that makes coming together a lot more difficult. The reality of the Latino community (just like the Black community) are not monolithic. The problems faced by Britt as a university student are not at all the same the ones faced by African American school drop outs who might follow a path of crime. To think that just race or ethnicity somehow unites us is not only foolish but also dangerous. Let's built a crime-free multiracial Bloomingdale!!

  8. It is difficult to believe that a man who holds three degrees has such poor, subjective writing. Let me introduce myself. I live near 1st and Florida Ave. I am a 23 year old African-American woman, private school educated, with a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University. I was born at Howard, and have lived in this neighborhood for 23 years, so I have witnessed ALL the change.

    While I do not think what the author is saying is wrong in nature, I think the delivery is tactless and crude, no matter what your race. "Thuggish gait"? "Awful subzero winter coat"? Let's stick to the facts when warning your neighbors of potential crimes. Especially, when you have such a bold (and grammatically incorrect) titles such as "two suspicious 20-something black males milling around".

    As tough as Bedstuy Brooklyn was, this is Washington, DC, home of the crack epidemic in the 1980's. The neighborhood was very dangerous and sprinkling some gentrification has not moved away ALL of the elements. You live on the same streets as criminals. Aware? Yes. Judgmental & crass? No.

    Furthermore, regardless of your demeanor and body language sir, I am sure that on a dark street, if some white neighbors saw YOU, they would feel threatened too. So let us not perpetuate African-American male stereotypes. Because they apply to YOU.

    These same guys you are judging often help my elderly grandparents and neighbors who have been in this neighborhood for over 30 years all the time.

    That said, street smart is colorless, ageless, and genderless. Be aware.

  9. To the original poster:

    It's good that you took action to protect yourself when you perceived a threat. I wasn't there, so I don't know that I would have perceived the same threat.

    That said, your original notice reads like a desperate whine for attention. Your follow-up comment confirms that the main purpose of your writing is to get a response. This is a neighborhood blog. Just as when I'm out in the neighborhood, I also don't want to see you here jerking off in public.

  10. As a white neighbor, I must say, I am way to stupid and naive to understand that not all black people are criminals. Ashley, in your infinite wisdom brought on by a priceless HU BA in journalism and 23 years living on the tough streets, I feel lucky that you have figured me out. You're right - I, along with your other white neighbors, are afraid of black people.

    Thats why we moved to city that is so majority minority. Its because of our irrational fear of nonwhites.

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  11. That is why you moved out too.

  12. Ashley in case you missed it it was 75 degrees out, so yeah, the coat was relevant. But thanks for all the wisdom your many years of private school education have afforded you.

    Now did you catch that there was a reported assault at 3rd & U NW, burglaries at the unit NW and 100 NE blocks of R, and a mugging on the unit block of Q all on the day this was posted about?

  13. My home at 1st and R, NW was broken into early Friday morning. I have no idea if the thieves were black, white, asian or latino. I do know that they broke in with the use of a large kitchen knife that was left inches from the head of a friend who was sleeping on the couch. There were 5 of us and a dog in the house at the time of the robbery. Nobody woke up and nobody was hurt. Just wanted to give a heads up to all neighbors to keep an eye out for anyone lingering around the neighborhood looking suspicious. Thanks.

  14. Oh Ashley - considering you have a degree in journalism, I'm surprised that you would choose to attack grammar over content. Isn't that petty? The ideas should really be the focus. Further, do you really want someone commenting on your grammar? You have incorrect punctuation in your post - your quotation marks are in the wrong place at the end of your sentences. And...so what? Does that invalidate what you're saying? Or make you lesser than?

    Are we to assume that anyone we might perceive as threatening is really just one of those kind fellas who enjoy helping out your elderly grandparents, and is therefore harmless? The capacity to help does not negate the potential to harm.

    While you ask that we refrain from perpetuating black stereotypes, you are clearly comfortable perpetuating white stereotypes.

    It's time for you to reconsider your own perceptions of race.

  15. My intention was not to offend anyone with my aforementioned comment. Nor did I use my background information to be condescending, although I can see how it was perceived that way. I was merely setting the tone that I live & breathe this neighborhood. And to show that my thoughts are a reflection of my experience at both predominately white and predominately black institutions. I realize now, that has nothing to do with this blog post, so bear with me.

    Emotion was evoked when I read this posting. I immediately thought of my boyfriend, a college educated guy from a state up north that is known for pulling over African-American men in cars with no warranted reason. Or my friend from high school, who attended an all boys school nearby. He "fit the description" of a criminal in the Shaw neighborhood. Of course he was let go after they realized he was not the culprit, nor did he have any criminal background.

    Racial profiling affects so many of my friends & I, whether subtly or overtly.

    I realize that my Caucasian neighbors may think that I have judged them and forgive me if I have. My statement said "some" and was therefore not an absolute statement. And based on my experience in the work place and in high school, some people are terrified of black people!

    I had no ideas that I would generate this many comments. That's the beauty of blogging. We can all share our ideas & thoughts.

    Right now, Bloomingdale is a melting pot, and I enjoy the diversity.

  16. These posts are heinous.

    Black people are not the enemy

  17. Nobody said black people are the enemy. All he said was that these two particular black males might be up to no good. Can we stop with the implied gross overgeneralizations, please?

  18. Gingivitis is the enemy

  19. I just want to thank they man who originally posted this comment on this blog. I was actually robbed Monday, October 25 at night in Bloomingdale by a young black male with a heavy coat. I just wanted to say that I appreciate your honesty in wanting to look out for people who live in the Bloomingdale and the connecting communities of Ledroit Park and Howard University area. After your reading your post I feel comfortable to even admit that it happened. I also would like to say to everyone to please be careful of your surroundings and not let your guard down. And to please report any suspicious activity happening in our community. It's really important, I wouldn't anyone to experience being robbed as I did. Be safe and thank you.

  20. No one posting on here or elsewhere would be idiotic enought to claim that "black people are the enemy". That's an intellectually lazy argument to use in a discussion like this.

    I grew up in a majority white medium-sized city in the midwest. In this city, everytime a crime is committed people don't immediately think that it was the black guy who did it--because there are better-to-even odds that it was in fact a white man. However--and this is the key point here--anyone who has lived in an urban environment for any appreciable length of time recognizes the signs and behaviors of an individual who is up to no good, regardless of their race or ethnicity. If you deny this, then I probably would not want you as a neighbor, because you would likely do a very poor job being alerting me when I, my family, or my home is potentially in danger.

    I don't for one moment begrudge the actions of the original poster, because I would have likely done precisely the same thing given the circumstances. If others are either willing to ignore obvious signs of danger, or are simply more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to two individuals who are acting suspiciously, more power to them.

    It's clear that the original poster did not respond the way that he did because the two individuals he saw were black; rather, it's clear that he responded the way that he did because of their behavior. I walk by people of all ages, races and nationalities on the streets of this city every single day and never give it a moment's thought--but I'm also aware enough to know when I should be crossing the street or otherwise removing myself from a potentially dangerous situation. That doesn't mean I am a racist, prejudiced or irrationally fearful--it means that I am aware of my surrooundings and respond accordingly.

    This is not a race-based issue, so stop trying to make it one.

  21. It's just sad that this is supposed to be considered as news or some type of genuine neighborhood watch. The reality is that this 'report' is riddled with unnecessary racially charged discriminating jargon. And to report that there are some black men walking in my neighborhood in DC seems insanely pretentious. Don't insult everyone's intellect by saying that you were simply reporting a seriously dangerous situation. You should be mature enough to own up to your own seedy discrimination. Just cause the author is African American doesn't mean he needs to high five every black man walking down the street. But he should instead take advantage of the fact that he has, over years of American 'blackness', gained a perspective that is not so limited as to assume that all black kids walking together are out to rob him. And how does blogging about it help the community? Why not try speaking to ALL of your neighbors. Developing a relationship with them even if its on a hi and bye level. If I were to experience what they did from you I wouldn't respect you at all and any and all future interactions with you would be prefaced by the fact that you are an "I lived in the hood so I'm hard, but I own property so I'm a pretentious fearful police lover" Dialogue builds communities, not 911 calls.

  22. We all participate in discriminatory things at times. But to put it in writing and try to justify it is....sad and difficult to watch.

  23. Anon 7:31: How is what the OP described a "discriminatory activity"? Last time I checked, discrimination related to depriving a certain group of individuals rights or priveleges otherwise afforded to others. Crossing the street and alerting a police oficer because one feels for one's own personal safety is not "discriminatory" in any sense of the word that I can surmise, so please elaborate.

  24. @ Britt: "to report that there are some black men walking in my neighborhood in DC seems insanely pretentious."

    Britt, how about some honesty in this discussion, instead of intentional distortions? The OP didn't report that black men were walking around--he reported that two black men were acting suspiciously and causing him to be concerned for his personal safety. There is a tremendous difference there, and intentionally distorting his statement does not serve to advance your position.

    I'm goign to make a wild assumption that, because of the fact that the original poster lives in Bloomingdale, he is not someone who is typically disturbed merely by the site of black people walking around his neighborhood, therefore the two individuals in question must have been acting in a manner that aroused suspicion and caused him to respond the way that he did. Which, by the way, is precisely what is meant when we remind people to be "aware of their surroundings".

  25. People really need to get a grip on reality. It's really amusing in DC, the fact that someone can post a message (doesn't matter what it's about) it will eventually turn into a debate about race. We all use stereotypes, we all have prejudices, and we all respond to them either intentionally or sub-consciously. We shouldn't beat ourselves up over it or others in the discussion. The goal should be to understand that we are all different and the better we understand these differences the better we can appreciate one another. I'm a white guy from a privileged family from the country and I judge people all the time, this statement alone should trigger some assumptions, prejudice, etc...but that's cool. There's a lot more to me than the blanket statement I just stated but without getting to know me better people may see me around and think - hey, look at that preppy white guy...just another gentrifying honky. Not to ramble on, but the point is if were going to talk about race we need to stop being so sensitive and keep it real.

  26. Britt, you are forgetting that this is a blog post and not a sociology thesis. Also when you have a gut reaction to danger, the alternative to alerting the police is NOT befriending all the neighbors. Be realistic and grow up. You sound like a kid.

  27. you people are being moronically defensive about these descriptions. the guys were black. they were 20-something. they were acting suspiciously. people are not racist or bigoted for pointing that out. fucking deal with it.

    it's not like no crime happens in this neighborhood:

  28. I saw some black kids on the way to work this morning, careful guys.

  29. I just saw this post. I never new this was available for Bloomingdale. I bought a house in the Bloomingdale area a little over a year ago. Towards the middle of September this year my basement apartment was broken into. The description of the mid-back length dreadlocks and the guy having a bike fits the description of the lookout guy for the robbery. Two of my neighbors gave that description almost exactly to the police. They further said the guy was hanging out on the steps of other people’s houses. The police said he was probably the lookout to make sure nobody was coming. These are just the facts. I am glad to whoever posted this, we all can help each other so this does not happen to anyone else in the neighborhood. I too am an African American man but understand how some people look suspicious and up to no good.