The violent unrest in Britain is certainly concerning, given that several of the same underlying conditions may be present in the District. Freeman Klopott of the Examiner talked with several Chinatown business owners who are concerned about a program to engage with the youth in Chinatown:
“We’ve been assured that the police department will deal with it,” said Proof owner Mark Kuller, who has decided to close the restaurant’s patio Friday night — one-third of his summer seating — rather than submit his customers to the sound and crowds he expects to come. “But it’s a mistake to have a youth engagement even in this area.”
It’s disappointing to see Klopott feeding the trolls by highlighting the overly concerned Kuller, who seems to think that the only modality of operation for young residents is rioting and violence (Please see addendum, these comments appear to be taken without context.) Given that the MPD program looks to engage with the youth to try to help defuse some of the underlying issues of disenfranchisement and alienation, it seems odd that business owners are freaking out when the police are trying to help.
When you look at the crime statistics for the area 1000 feet around the corner of 7th and G Street NW, there are six more crime incidents (an increase of 9% from 65 to 71) in the two month period from June 10th to August 9th, as compared to the same period last year. Violent crime is up, with five incidents of assault with a dangerous (non-firearm) weapon in two months, instead of just one, but property crime remains unchanged.
This seems like fear-mongering of the worst sort from the Examiner, and a brand of cowardice bit of overconcern from Proof’s Mark Kuller than is more disappointing than anything else.
UPDATE, 6:15pm: Mark Kuller has responded directly (in full) to the characterization of the article, which he says was unfair:
The quote in the Examiner was out of context – an amalgam of soundbites from a seven minute conversation
In addition, Kuller lays out the timeline for being informed of the event, which happened the day before yesterday, which is short noticed giving the scheduling necessary for shuffling shifts of his service staff and the valet stand that Proof offers. In addition, Kuller lays out some significant concerns with the crowds:
this event was not properly executed – it should not be done as a popup with no input from those most critically affected and also without consideration of the potentially large logistical challenges – until our meeting with the mayor Tuesday there was no plan to even have any porta potties, which would seem prudent to me.
It seems that Klopott was concerned with cramming in the irresponsible parallel to the London riots, and then putting that opinion in the only business owner he could get to go on the record about the event, in Kuller.
Shame on us me for not getting the full story, and shame on Klopott for throwing a local source under the bus to write an inflammatory piece for the paper rag.