Local | Perspective
November 8, 2017 at 5:23 PM
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the riots that erupted in Washington after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It also will mark the 50th anniversary of a fascinating, if ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to rebuild some of the frayed bonds between the city's black residents and its police officers. Or maybe it was trying to build some nonexistent bonds.
It was called the Pilot District Project, and if you remember it, a District museum wants to hear from you.
"I know there are people in town who were around then who either remember the Pilot District Project because they thought it was helpful, maybe, or because they remember it as a joke," said Sarah Leavitt, curator at the National Building Museum.
In March, the building museum and the Historical Society of Washington will open an exhibit on the PDP.
What was the PDP? Well, Washington has often been used as a policy petri dish, and this $2 million experiment grew out of the Office of Economic Opportunity, one of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society projects.
It was obvious that a pervasive mistrust between residents and the police permeated many D.C. neighborhoods. The PDP aimed to involve citizens in policing, get more cops out of their cars and onto the sidewalks, institute sensitivity training and encourage black candidates to enter the police academy. The PDP was planted in what was then the 13th Precinct, a large swath of downtown that included the 14th Street corridor.
From the start, problems arose. The plan called for an elected citizens board, and this process was fraught with tension.
As part of the project, the OEO commissioned a documentary and several training films. The documentary — "The People and the Police" — was shelved, but you can find it on the National Archives website. It makes for fascinating, if at times uncomfortable, viewing. Some white police officers come across almost as invaders. Some black residents describe the police as "pigs."
As a dashiki-wearing community leader in the film puts it: "Everybody and his mother knows that the police is the number-one problem in America."
Less than a decade later, that man would oversee the city's police department. He was Marion Barry.
If you have firsthand memories of the PDP — or if your attic or basement holds material like fliers or posters — send an email to Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The golden bowl
People feel strongly about their breakfast cereal. I know, because I heard from many of them after Tuesday's column on new Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios. Some readers said they miss the sweet cereals of their youth — Puffa Puffa Rice, for example. Others are happy with their All-Bran Original.
Or would be if they could find it. Joe Keyerleber of the District reports that the Kellogg's brand is impossible to find. "[It] seems to be completely out of stock, and has been for at least several months," he wrote.
Online, boxes of All-Bran Original fetch as much as $15. On its website, Kellogg's explains that the company is experiencing "a disruption in our production schedule."
I wondered whether the vast bran mines of the Midwest are tapped out. Should we turn to the Strategic Bran Reserve? Kellogg's says All-Bran Buds and All-Bran Complete Flakes are still around.
Kellogg's spokeswoman Kris Charles would not divulge exactly what's going on, but in an email she wrote that the shortage began over the summer, adding that "we are so glad to report that we are replenishing supplies now and should be back on [shelves] at normal levels before the end of the year."
Meanwhile, Jim Zaiser of Bowie, Md., pines for his cereal of choice, Grape-Nuts Flakes. His local Giant stocks regular GN, but not GNF. Jim is convinced that the myriad flavors of Honey Bunches of Oats are crowding out his beloved Grape Nut Flakes, like an invasive species.
"I have complained to my local Giant store and also sent several emails to Post imploring them to provide at least one row of Grape-Nuts Flakes among the myriad rows of HBoOs, all to no avail," he wrote. He has to drive several miles to another Giant that is in the flake zone.
Finally, my old colleague Steve Fehr of Reston, Va., has a theory why manufacturers such as General Mills are coming out with chocolate and peanut butter versions of old favorites. Wrote Steve: "Part of me thought that the company is responding to the growth in legal weed and trying out new flavors for late-night snacks."
Is it only a matter of time before we see Marijuanios?
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.