By day the once-thriving commercial district around Martin Luther King Avenue and Good Hope Road SE is a declining, but still respectable, cluster of beauty salons, appliance shops, a five-and-dime store, fast-food restaurants and other small enterprises.

At sundown the ambiance metamorphoses, turning this riverside slice of Anacostia into a congested, neon-flashing smaller version of the 14th Street strip where knots of idle men languish in doorways and parking lots while flashily dressed women strut the sidewalks.

Prostitution and drug dealing have surged into the community in the last few years, according to residents, civic leaders and business owners, who say they are increasingly frustrated at the invasion and the loitering problem it generates.

"People are outraged at this element in the community," said optician Albert Russell, looking out to the street from his business, The Glass House, at 1227 Good Hope Rd. SE. "We have been trying to attract businesses such as bakeries, cafeterias, appliance stores and haberdasheries and other small shops. The way it is now, we're just a community that gives up to these people in the evening."

Loitering and illegal trade are not new to this part of Southeast, but have intensified around King Avenue and Good Hope Road since last winter, according to people who live and work there. Some of them say they believe the increase is a direct result of a police crackdown on drug trafficking and prostitution in other parts of the city.

An earlier trouble spot, about six blocks up King Avenue around Talbert Street, has improved, according to Anacostia Neighborhood Museum Director John Kinard, who led citizens' protests to police and city officials.

"We have noticed an incease in narcotics on that corner at King and Good Hope and we're on top of the situation," said Detective Tim Green of the 7th District's vice unit. "But the problem is that when we bust them at one place, they just move on to another." Police reported nine drug arrests on that corner in the last two weeks of May.

Yes, echoed Lt. William White, community services coordinator of the 7th District, "there are some prostitutes and there have been arrests in reference to it." White said that he has noticed no increase in prostitution recently, however. "I have been working in this area for four years and we have been locking up prostitutes on that corner for four years."

"I think these people are from across the bridge around 7th and 14th streets, where drug traffic and prostitution are diminishing due to community pressures," said James Bennett, a Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member who is also president of the Frederick Douglass Community Improvement Council, a neighborhood action group. Bennett said that the problem is not new, but that the residents' concern has risen.

Some local people say the problem is nourished by high unemployment that is severe in this less affluent quadrant of the city.

Community leaders who have appealed to City Council members, police and other officials say they believe the sublegal activities are lured there by a string of nightclubs, some featuring nude dancers, that help give the area its dual character.

In the daytime the intersection is reminiscent of a small town, with a friendly familiarity among people coming and going amid a mixture of government and commercial establishments: a military recruiting office, a thrift shop, a busy pharmacy, a city employment office and a couple of storefront churches.

At night the activity shifts, with patrons club-hopping among five nightspots within a two-block radius of the intersection. Terrell's, a rundown building that has housed successive nightclubs, with its adjacent parking lot where a milling crowd gathers each dusk, and the nearby Bon Tonia are particular targets of the citizens' wrath. Three others, Mr. Kelly's Tawdry Nightlife Angers Community By JANET BRYANT Special to The Washington Post

By day the once-thriving commercial district around Martin Luther King Avenue and Good Hope Road SE is a declining, but still respectable, cluster of beauty salons, appliance shops, a five-and-dime store, fast-food restaurants and other small enterprises.

At sundown the ambiance metamorphoses, turning this riverside slice of Anacostia into a congested, neon-flashing smaller version of the 14th Street strip where knots of idle men languish in doorways and parking lots while flashily dressed women strut the sidewalks.

Prostitution and drug dealing have surged into the community in the last few years, according to residents, civic leaders and business owners, who say they are increasingly frustrated at the invasion and the loitering problem it generates.

"People are outraged at this element in the community," said optician Albert Russell, looking out to the street from his business, The Glass House, at 1227 Good Hope Rd. SE. "We have been trying to attract businesses such as bakeries, cafeterias, appliance stores and haberdasheries and other small shops. The way it is now, we're just a community that gives up to these people in the evening."

Loitering and illegal trade are not new to this part of Southeast, but have intensified around King Avenue and Good Hope Road since last winter, according to people who live and work there. Some of them say they believe the increase is a direct result of a police crackdown on drug trafficking and prostitution in other parts of the city.

An earlier trouble spot, about six blocks up King Avenue around Talbert Street, has improved, according to Anacostia Neighborhood Museum Director John Kinard, who led citizens' protests to police and city officials.

"We have noticed an incease in narcotics on that corner at King and Good Hope and we're on top of the situation," said Detective Tim Green of the 7th District's vice unit. "But the problem is that when we bust them at one place, they just move on to another." Police reported nine drug arrests on that corner in the last two weeks of May.

Yes, echoed Lt. William White, community services coordinator of the 7th District, "there are some prostitutes and there have been arrests in reference to it." White said that he has noticed no increase in prostitution recently, however. "I have been working in this area for four years and we have been locking up prostitutes on that corner for four years."

"I think these people are from across the bridge around 7th and 14th streets, where drug traffic and prostitution are diminishing due to community pressures," said James Bennett, a Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commission member who is also president of the Frederick Douglass Community Improvement Council, a neighborhood action group. Bennett said that the problem is not new, but that the residents' concern has risen.

Some local people say the problem is nourished by high unemployment that is severe in this less affluent quadrant of the city.

Community leaders who have appealed to City Council members, police and other officials say they believe the sublegal activities are lured there by a string of nightclubs, some featuring nude dancers, that help give the area its dual character.

In the daytime the intersection is reminiscent of a small town, with a friendly familiarity among people coming and going amid a mixture of government and commercial establishments: a military recruiting office, a thrift shop, a busy pharmacy, a city employment office and a couple of storefront churches.

At night the activity shifts, with patrons club-hopping among five nightspots within a two-block radius of the intersection. Terrell's, a rundown building that has housed successive nightclubs, with its adjacent parking lot where a milling crowd gathers each dusk, and the nearby Bon Tonia are particular targets of the citizens' wrath. Three others, Mr. Kelly's Supper Club, the Good Hope Disco and the Green Derby, are not considered as troublesome, but they too are seen by residents and business owners as magnets for the loiterers.

"Everything goes on in that parking lot," said Jake Thompson, who has lived in the area for more than 60 years, indicating the space next to Terrell's where people huddled around smoke-glassed vans and other vehicles. "Things started changing when the nude dancers came."

Russell, owner of The Glass House, blames the District government for the lack of restrictions on dancers in the club. "It gets to a point where the business is no longer a business but a nuisance, and unless you have politicians, business people and the community working together, things will not change," he said.

But the clubs apparently are good business. Kelly Somerville, who vowed to operate a family-style establishment when he opened his cramped but comfortably furnished Mr. Kelly's Supper Club at 1306 Good Hope Rd. SE four years ago, said he tried to keep his word. He initially billed name artists such as Rufus Thomas, Candi Staton and William Bell, but that proved unprofitable.

"I tried everything else except the dancers, but I couldn't fill the place up after 6 o'clock," Somerville said. Since he installed the unclad dancers last year, he said, his business has improved tremendously. This past April, for example, he sold more than ten times the 20 cases of beer sold in April last year. "This is what they want," Somerville said, throwing up his hands.

Many retired and older persons are afraid to fight back in the face of the undesirable activity, Bennett said. "They feel powerless to do anything."

Several months ago, 35 elderly persons who receive daily meals at the Senior Citizens Counseling and Delivery Service at Howard Road and Martin Luther King Avenue were frightened at having to wade through the milling crowds, according to the agency's director Concha Johnson. She said complaints to 7th District police resulted in a special unit of officers on motorbikes, who helped disperse the throngs, but not the old people's fears.

"I'm 77 years old and I'm afraid to say anything against these people," said a woman who had called Johnson repeatedly, terrified that her house would be invaded by the crowds. "They could come light a match and burn my shack down."

City Council member Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8) said that "people are outraged by the nature and volume of the drug traffic. I got a lot of calls from the senior citizens in the community whose comments were very irate."

Council member Nadine Winter, whose Ward 6 shares boundaries with Rolark's ward, views the problem as a sticky issue legally. "Solutions are not easy because you can't infringe upon a person's constitutional rights just because they're hanging around a corner," she said.

Last month, the rising resistance to what residents consider a plague on their community was directed against a license application for yet another liquor store in the area.

"We went to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing prepared," said attorney Bernard A. Gray, who lives in the area and works with the Frederick Douglass Improvement Council. He said the license was heavily oppposed by witnesses, community supporters and 600 persons who signed petitions. If they are successful, it will be the second liquor store license denied there since 1979.

"If the community continues to come out and support efforts, there is no question in my mind that we'll be successful," Gray added.

Board spokesman Dallas R. Evans said the community opposition will have a "significant impact" on the board's decision, which is still pending.

Museum director Kinard views the issue as more complex.

"It's curious because you have a residual emotional feeling that you're coming down on your own people," Kinard said. Since both the community and the people involved in the troublesome activities are black, he said, there is "a dangerous social mentality of making excuses for your own race, and it's got to be looked at as an evil. . . .

"There are many of us who are out trying valiantly in communities like Anacostia to do everything we can to uplift the community, and at the same time there are crimes being committed by black people against black people, as well as socially deviant behavior, and we ourselves have fallen into a mentality of excusing this behavior. That is dangerous. We need to look at our community and the evils therein and seek to correct those things irrespective of who is perpetrating them."