With the Sept. 14 Democratic primary three weeks away, things are getting a bit heated on the streets as supporters for Vincent C. Gray and incumbent Adrian M. Fenty (D) clash outside forums, debates and straw polls.
The rough-and-tumble politics were on display over the weekend when, Gray said, Peaceoholics co-founder Ronald Moten chased him and some of his volunteers as they tried to canvass in the Woodland Terrace neighborhood of Southeast -- which Moten denies.
Moten's sometimes-aggressive tactics, however, have been well documented by D.C. Wire and other media outlets. But Monday night, at the Ward 5 Democratic Committee straw poll, one of Moten's friends said Gray supporters were the aggressors in what he described as a heated dispute outside Michigan Park Christian Church.
Anwaar Smith EL, 31, called D.C. Wire last night to report he was physically threatened by Gray's son, Carlos, while trying to distribute a magazine Moten created that attack's Gray's record and defends Fenty.
Smith El alleges that Carlos Gray, 33, approached him outside the church and began shouting "vulgar" slurs and insults at him.
"My response to that, was 'homes, I am from the streets, you really don't want to approach me like that,'" Smith said.
A few minutes later, according to Smith El, Carlos Gray returned with five other men and surrounded him.
"I told them, I am doing a favor for a friend (Moten), and I am putting out here the truth," Smith El said. "But these guys were surrounding me like they are going to do something. I pushed one guy out of the way, so I could walk on."
A heated confrontation ensued, Smith El said, but a passerby broke things up. Carlos Gray then demanded that Smith El, who says he "felt threatened," leave the event.
Carlos Gray was unavailable to comment today. But Traci Hughes, a Gray spokeswoman, tells a different story.
"This guy was cursing and yelling at Carlos," Hughes said. "Carlos walked away."
Moten, a Fenty strategist, has been complaining in recent weeks that Carlos Gray is responsible for several recent heated exchanges between Fenty and Gray supporters. On Monday, the Fenty campaign released a video in which Carlos Gray is seen getting out of a car, retrieving a Gray sign from his trunk, and then waving it repeatedly near the faces of some Fenty canvassers.
The back-and-forth between the two campaigns underscores the increasing passion on both sides as Election Day draws closer.
In an interview, Moten said he feared the disputes could grow violent.
"Carlos may think his heart is full of blood and not Kool-Aid but he is jumping out there with people who will beat" him, Moten said. "Under normal circumstances, when you violate people the way he has, they respond, but people have been disciplined and haven't responded. Normally, I would respond, but I haven't done anything to him."
-- Tim Craig