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'Mosquito' noisemaker silenced in Chinatown after youth rights group complains

A device called "The Mosquito" that emits a high-pitched, headache-inducing sound was installed outside the Chinatown entrance to the Gallery Place Metro station to ward off loiterers.

Herbert Miller, founder of Western Development, which built Gallery Place, was initially identified by Evans as the person who bought the device. Both Transwestern and Miller said that was not the case.

Miller said that the District should work with businesses to combat a problem that no noisemaker can solve.

The Mosquito "was one thing that was tried," Miller said. "They need to try a lot of things in a positive way to solve the problem."

As Gallery Place has added shops, eateries and movie theaters, it has become a popular teenage hangout. In August,a large brawl there spilled into the Metro system, left several passengers injured and ended with arrests of three teenagers.

Transwestern's letter said the company was "able to suspend the use" of the device "due to the increased presence and support of Metro Transit Police."

A letter to Moss from the Office of Human Rights said an investigation had been opened into the age discrimination allegation and that the city had asked the company that installed the device to remove it voluntarily. "The device was shut off with no current plans to turn it back on," the letter said.

Moss said the silencing of the Mosquito was a small victory for an organization staffed by two people. But he was disappointed that more local youths weren't outraged.

"It's very disturbing to me because every social change we've had in this country has been on the backs of young people," he said. "When something like this happens, what I would like is for every single young person in town to call me and say, 'What are we going to do about this?' In this country, we do not punish entire groups based on the acts of a few select individuals. We just don't do that here."

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