Last night at around 11 pm there were a series of gunshots fired very close to my home. The rhythm of the shots came something like this:

Pop!…Pop! Pop!…Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

It was during the long series that I heard and felt something strike the house. I thought it was the ricocheting of a bullet and so crouched beneath the window of my room.

One of my roomates saw a man running between alleys behind Kelsey Gardens. It appears the shots were fired from Q between 7th and 8th streets.

After being on hold for abour 45 seconds, we got through to the police, who told us there had already been several calls placed. The police cars arrived a couple of minutes later. It appears nobody had been hit.

According to neighborhood blogs, Kelsey Gardens, in the midst of being cleared for the construction of new condominiums, contains a number of abandoned, largely basement, apartments. Drug dealers, ever opportunistic regarding new commercial locations at which to profiteer and occasionally shoot, have begun using these apartments. A young man was shot dead inside one of them last week, one of a spat of shootings along 7th in this most recent crime spurt.

On the way to the Giant supermarket, I originally walked down 7th past Kelsey Gardens, acquiring dirty looks whilst picking out some of the middle-school age boys I played basketball with at the Rec. After a few months, however, I ended up taking the much quieter and more peaceful route behind Kelsey, along 8th. The “Drug Free Zone” sign within this almost fully gentrified street is eerily marked with the spraypainted visage of a ghost peering out across it.

When I consider the capoeira workshop I was organizing that failed to materialize (the whole teen night was cancelled at the last moment), I wonder how much I, or any other concerned outsider, can offer these young boys, who seem  filled with such torment and anger. They need something greater then that, and if Mayor Fenty and Kevin Chapple have a solution other than pushing folks out into Southeast or PG County, I’m still yet to hear it. Education reform clearly remains a fundamental piece of the efforts, changing the existing culture of violence and hostility speaks to a far broader, more complex situation and set of issues.

From the top bedroom window, it’s possible to make out the National Monument, peeking its pointy crest directly over the Projects at which this bloody pestilence has rotted in. In Sarah Luria’s “Capital Speculations,” which discusses early planning and architectural conversations regarding this city, Ms. Luria argues that Washington remains a city of failure, a flawed and ongoing project toward reaching the original vision of America. Present day Shaw is a good example of the country’s continued failure to successfully lift the disempowered out of bleak situations, a piece of New Orleans, South Central and South Dakotan reservations within passing shot from the White House. And while there are many good people doing excellent work to change this current predicament, more clearly needs to be done.

Young professionals who might be considering a move into Shaw with the notion of raising  children in this neighborhood should know: these problems running down the Projects of 7thremain malignant.

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