City Desk

The Right to Loiter

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Some City Paper readers think resident Steven Conn should buck up and stop complaining about the group of teens and young adults hanging outside his place in the 300 block of W Street NE.

Existential question of the day: What is loitering, anyway? Three people congregating? Five? Five talking loudly? Ten? Any number that makes people wanting to come over for a dinner party "uncomfortable" enough that they won't get out of their car?

Realistically, says one commenter, jfc1, you have to appreciate the fact that in different communities there are different standards for what is and isn't "socially-acceptable behavior."

But Conn isn't the only soul who's complained about "loitering" of late.

On MPD listservs, plenty of other residents, including ANC 4B02 Commissioner Faith Wheeler, have expressed frustration with congregating youths. Wheeler offers some fuming paragraphs about an alley connected to the 6400 block of 7th Street NW. That alley, she contends, "has been the site of youths gambling, smoking pot, being disrespectful and threatening to business owners, using foul language."

"Young people are also just hanging out in front of the stores on that block and not moving on. This discourages customers from going into the stores. Fewer customers means lower income for the business owners, fewer tax dollars for the city."

While Wheeler can count on police showing up to look into reports of gambling, drugs, and threats, when it comes to kids "discouraging" customers from going into stores—simply by their presence—she'll have to get over it. Police Chief Cathy Lanier writes to City Desk: "D.C. does not have general loitering laws, as general loitering laws have been widely found to be unconstitutional."

That's something Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham learned the hard way. After championing anti-loitering laws the politician gave up last year, citing concerns about civil liberties. Writing to Ward 1 residents, Graham said he'd tried to enact loitering laws "to give residents and neighbors some much-needed relief from criminal congregants while also reaffirming the right to assemble."

"I don’t think a concern about loitering is a new problem," Lanier offers, "but it may be new to particular communities or neighborhoods. Generally, concerns about loitering reflect violations of a commonly accepted or perceived standard for conduct on public space, and of course those standards evolve and change over time."

Sounds a little like what  jfc1 said...

Photography by Infrogmation, Creative Commons Attribution License

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  • Mrs. D

    It's pretty much so any time they're disruptive to normal, law-abiding citizens going about their daily lives, or commit crimes. Blocking traffic (pedestrian, car, whatever), disrupting the public by being loud at extreme hours, littering, trespassing on others' private property, etc. And on the crime front, using drugs, selling drugs, making threats, committing assaults, committing robberies and burglaries, etc. Even though DC may not have a general loitering law, the police will respond to a call of congregating individuals that may be up to no good. Especially if threats, violence, and other crimes have occurred in an area before (if you look at the crime stats from the area in question, they have).

    I don't live too far away from Mr. Conn, and my neighbors don't put up with that crap. Plain and simple, you want it to stop, you make it clear it's not acceptable.

  • dcav8r

    I live on the 300 block of V Street NE, and I know what Steven is talking about. The problem is, these youth are not from our neighborhood. They are gang members from the other side of RI Ave. 5D Police have done as much as they can (and could do a tad more) but it is a constant battle with these thugs. The only thing residents can do is call 911, have the police come through and chase them off, only to have to repeat the process several times a day. Maybe the MPD will finally get officers out of their cars and walking the beat through Eckington---- We could only hope.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    The whole crime problem in this city is due to the fact that the police can not even say, boo! to people that loiter. The police have been asking the city council for many years to create a anti-loitering law but the liberal council always backs down because the bastards at the ACLU treaten to take the city to court if they did.

    If people are in the front of you're house or on you're street for a long period of time in the early morning hours, they sure in the hell are not selling AMWAY! Give the police the tools they need!

    Another fact that can be found, a majority of the staff at the local and national offices of the ACLU don't even live in the district!

  • DCAV8R

    I don't know, when I see the dirtbags hanging out on our street, I call the police (5D) and they are very responsive. On a good day, we get two or three units that respond, they not only do they patrol the street, but the alleys as well. If the thugs come back, we call the police again. Its a game of cat and mouse, but, the thugs dont like to be bothered, and they will move on like the others before them have.

  • Ned

    Where should these youth move on to?

  • cminus

    Where should these youth move on to?

    Prince George's County?

    (I'm kidding, but I bet a lot of people would make that suggestion in all seriousness.)

  • Mrs. D

    How about school, vocational training, a job, perhaps? Or if they're a little young for that, maybe they can be like the kids in my neighborhood, who I mentioned in the previous loitering story, and ride their bikes and skateboards and socialize without disrupting the whole neighborhood. You know, like how I used to play when I was a kid?

  • Mrs. D

    Oh, I forgot about the rec center up the street. I hear they have sports equipment and basketball courts and everything...

  • Mrs. D

    And the Boys and Girls Club around the corner. They have everything from tutors to dance classes. Good times!

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'Ned', where should these worthless thugs go?, how about prison!

  • JeezMcGee

    I don't know if they are all thugs but in neighborhood, not far from the one described in this article- if you're new to the area- this shit is frightening. I've lived here during the crack epidemic and have had some close calls. I'm known in the neighborhood and don't get bothered by anyone, but this new wave of kids don't respect anyone. I feel like slapping these teenagers at times when they walk out in the street without looking or caring if a car is coming. I feel angry each time I'm passing on the side walk and they don't move. They literally will prefer you to bump them as you pass than to step one foot aside.

    I don't want them to go to prison, but dammit, it's 1:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, why is there 12 teenagers sitting on stoop in front of house none of them live, smoking blunts, pissing all over, and causing unnecessary strife for us.

  • saveDAbay

    Ricky, that's a damn lie!!

    DC police NOT only can enforce loitery, they can BAN your ass from place of infraction!!

    YOU are an emotional burden to yourself and the threads! Just like a woman, emotional, wreckless and out of control!!

    "Look at your life, man."– Louis Farrakhan

    LMBAO...HAHAHAhahahaha!!

  • Mrs. D

    Jeez,

    please call the police if they are apparently skipping class, urinating in public, and/or using/selling drugs. These are all crimes and the 5th district guys are very committed to reducing all types of crime in the area. They have been very responsive to my issues, which are similar but involve adults.

  • DC Hoodrat

    Shoot them or offer them "curry out" wings laced with a "special" mambo sauce.

    They're just like rats; feed them something that tastes good laced with a toxin and they'll go away.

  • nnodlez

    @DC Hoodrat-They're just like rats; feed them something that tastes good laced with a toxin and they'll go away.

    THAT SHIT DIDNT WORK FOR YOU WHEN YOU GAVE RICK MANGUS THAT DC HOODY BLOWJOB. SO WHAT MAKES YOU THINK IT WILL WORK ON THESE YOUNGINS?

  • DC Hoodrat

    noodlez,

    It worked for you... Hence the reason you had to change the spelling of your name.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Hoodrat- I feel the need to step in and defend my fremesis Noodlez. Stop fronting dude. You're not black, you don't live in the hood, and whatever you've seen on TV won't save your ass in you did ever visit.

    Just because you take on a name like DC Hoodrat, you think it gives you carte blanche to say whatever the fuck you want about black people huh? You seem like a simple fella, so I'll explain it to you as best I could. It doesn't matter what race you are, a piece of shit is a piece of shit. You are perfect example. So go off to your hate rallies with you white sheets (online annonymous blogging is your new burning cross huh?), and remember, don't slip up in real life and say these things, cause you will get beat down bitch.

  • noodlez

    @DC Hoodrat-ALL THAT BS YOU BE SPEWIN AND THATS THE BEST YOU GOT!

    WEAK ASS MOFO.

    I THOUGHT I HAD BLINDERS ON WITH ALL MY ANTI-GAY TALK BUT YOU FOREVA WANT TO STICK SOMETHING IN YOUR MOUTH. MAKES ME WONDER. HMMMM? LET ME FIND OUT YOU WAS AT THE RALLY FOR DONT ASK DONT TELL.

  • DC Hoodrat

    Just because you take on a name like Adrain Bent Me and nutted in my guts, you think it gives you carte blanche to say whatever the fuck you want because your a sorry ass douchebag. You seem like a simple fella, so I'll explain it to you as best I could. It doesn't matter what race you are, a piece of shit is a piece of shit. You are perfect example.

    And if you's like to take this off line... post your contact info and I'll be glad to handle you like the bitch you are.

    And yes, I copied and pasted most of what you wrote because it was lame and you aren't worth my thinking energy.

    Stop trying to be one of my STANS, Adrian... noodlez is already my bitch... and I'm a one nigga man...

  • noodlez

    @Adrian Bent-Me-THANKS CHAMP BUT I GOT THIS ONE.

    MY G'TOWN HOYAS LOST LAST NIGHT SO IM TAKING NO PRISONERS. IM MOVIN THROUGH THIS MOFO LIKE PREDATOR. POSTIN UP SKULLS LIKE TROPHIES.

    SO ANYONE WHO TALK STANK ABOUT THE CHILDREN OF MY CITY WILL GIVE IT SOME MORE THOUGHT BEFORE THEY POST SOME WACK COMMENTS LIKE YOUR GIRL DC Hoodrat IS DOING.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Noodlez- I respect your feuding prowless but this one is just too easy to pass up for me.

    This little bitch Hoodrat, some scarred and scared white kid from NoVa is fronting here like he's this authority on all things black in DC. Then he goes off a laundry list of stereotypes he's seen on TV and read on blogs. His front is what's his undoing. Be real with yourself. He's too much of a pussy to ever really admit it. But he can blog away from his parents basement in Clarendon all he wants knowing that when he comes to Ibiza on the weekend with his 8 other friends, he's clutching tightly, scared shitless of all the minorities around him. When one of them snakes in around a blonde chick he likes, he goes home at nights, whacks off, and blogs about "DC Niggas".

    Hoodrat- sounds about right bitch?

  • Wendy Glenn

    When I have called the DCMPD about youths "loitering" in front of my property in NE DC (drinking in public, being excessively loud, rude and wrong) all that I got was "well maam, DC does NOT have a loitering law so there is nothing to enforce.

    Well, I enforced it myself. I confronted the youths and told them in no undertain terms; "I have two sons your ages and I don't take CRAP from them so you damn well know I am NOT going to take it from you, so get the FUCK from in front of my door before I have to call some folk down from Philly and NY (where I am from) to do a drive by ASS WHOOPIN. Well, they thought I was the meanist BEYATCH on two feet but they respected my gangsta and I have no loitering on my property from that moment on. But, let me state this, I am that "Big Momma" that doesn't fear anything on two feet, and I demand respect from those younger than me.

    You have to speak to young people authoritatively and demand respect from them or they will walk all over you, remember, some of them have absolutely no authority figure in the home. Having an absence of authority in the home does not mean that they do not know how to respect authority.

    In return I also assist them with finding employment through DOES/YAIP program and local LSDBE's in my Ward and the city as a whole. Give them something else to do and a way and means of making money and "generally" you will change their attitude.

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