"anyhoo, i'm about a block away from my place coming home after work & really exhausted. out from the outdor pool area of my condo community pops up 5 enthusiastic (now i'm thinking all hopped up on goofballs!) young hs kids. i pay no mind until one of them comes up to me "hey whassup, hey hey hey". now i'm thinking this might turn into a random assualt & robbing. because they're all around me i can't pay attention to them all & one of them sucker punches me . . ." - John Stabb, lead singer of Government IssueThanks to DCist I find out that the lead singer of a 1980's D.C. punk band was attacked and beaten outside of his condo in the Briggs Chaney area a few weeks ago.
Sift through the Gazette's weekly Police Reports and you'll notice a lot incidents from Briggs Chaney. This one's only news because it's a person well-known within D.C.'s punk scene - but to the kids that jumped him, he's just some white guy.
"Seriously, never doubt the power of a group of clean-cut kids (not to play the stereotype card but this time they happened to be black teens) if you're walking alone somewhere," Stabb writes on a message board. "And i have my theory they actually live in this condo area so they can hit, rob, and run back to their homes."
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
Park and Planning reports that the Fairland planning area - which comprises Calverton, Briggs Chaney and Burtonsville - has nearly a thousand Moderately Priced Dwelling Units, the overwhelming majority of which are in Briggs Chaney. The concentration of affordable housing - both subsidized and market-rate - in Briggs Chaney contributes to a distrust of perceived "outsiders." I'm not sure if the kids thought Stabb lived in the condo. This brings up a question of whether or not the kids would've jumped him (regardless of race) if they knew who he was.
There's also a lack of police presence. East County falls in MoCo's 3rd Police District, which covers the entire Route 29 corridor from Downtown Silver Spring to the Howard County line. Where are the cops? Downtown? In Long Branch? White Oak? They can't be everywhere at once, and kids know it and take advantage of it.
Briggs Chaney as it is exists today is a poorly-designed community where public and private space is ill-defined. It's easy to hide and easy to escape responsibility for maintaining the area around you. This enables crime by default.
And it's pretty easy to get lost, which creates more "outsiders" and offers "insiders" more opportunities to take advantage. While trying to find the East County Community Day last Saturday, a man pulled up in a car next to me and yelled "What the fuck is your hot ass doing out here?" Welcome to the neighborhood!
There are solutions, but they aren't simple and they aren't cheap. We have to rethink how Briggs Chaney is physically set up. We have to encourage the construction of more higher-end housing. And we need a greater police presence. Is the will there? Probably. But the money isn't.