Robert M. Williams is an angry man.
From the window of his dental offices in the 700 block of Kenyon Street NW, he watches the daily drama of an open air drug market that four years of his fighting have failed to rout.
Soon he will pack up his chairs and instruments and go into retirement earlier than he had wanted.
Pointing one recent afternoon to a store, Williams snorted with disgust.
"At times you see 30 or more sellers and addicts, cars from Maryland and Virginia, men in three-piece Brooks Brothers suits -- all come to get drugs. I've even seen them shoot up.
"We have two schools in this area. To see these young elementary kids have to go through these thugs and druggies and nobody does anything about it . . . " he fumes, his voice trailing.
"My patients say they're afraid to come into the neighborhood. If I call the police right now, they would send somebody out in a reasonable time, but the problem is they do nothing about the infestation of drugs."
Williams and other members of the Georgia Avenue Business and Professional Association have picketed and petitioned elected officials, called police incessantly and invited owners of the store to meetings.
But they still have been unable to close the drug market.
"We have been asking for four years and we get nothing," said an exasperated Williams.
"When Georgetown has a problem, it gets all it needs. Yet we are the ones who support these elected officials."
While officials disclaim that Georgetown is getting an inordinate amount of attention when compared with lower Georgia Avenue, it certainly is.
Both are commercial areas, both have business and tax revenue at stake.
But while Georgetown gets instant patrols, lower Georgia Avenue is left with desultory visits and no intense effort to clean up an overt market obvious even to casual passersby.
The lower Georgia Avenue area south of New Hampshire Avenue is unusual for its high concentration of black professionals.
Williams estimates that more than 35 physicians, dentists and lawyers have their offices there, skilled professionals who would be expected to know how to negotiate the system but who have been unable to get this problem solved.
Instead, three have already moved out, and at least one other besides Williams is contemplating it, Williams said.
"People say, if you doctors, lawyers and dentists can't do anything, what can we do? Many are now almost prisoners after dark in their homes. When you see the collection of druggies and young men strung out, you would ask why anybody would come in this area to get their medical and dental needs met. I have lost so many patients."
Four years of fighting have been largely met with passing the buck, says Williams.
"The alcohol board says it is a police problem. The police say they can't do anything because the druggies are standing on the property . . . . We ask the owners to come to meetings, try to make it comfortable for them, and they say they'll be there and don't show, or say they can't leave the store."
Elected officials respond, he said, but their show of force is very short-lived.
"It is a joke, a fraud that we have Georgia Avenue Day for these politicians to come riding down the street as if we are one of the more affluent areas."
Williams, 69, who also teaches in Howard University's Dental School, and his brother, a retired physician, built the medical office where he practices in l965.
Then the neighborhoood was "a nice little metropolitan area," he said.
In the past few years the area has degenerated such that he has been "warned not to come down on Georgia Avenue after 11 p.m. I've seen it deteriorate into a bunch of broken-down businesses."
As he prepares to retire within 60 days, Williams admits he is no longer just angry and frustrated.
He is also "literally becoming afraid. Maybe I'm a fool. But when I look across the street and see 25 or 30 young men and women looking for drugs, I feel I may be the next victim."