They have trimmed the trees and installed the new lighting. They have bunched together on corners for the candlelight vigils and fanned out across their Capitol Hill neighborhood distributing the 1,250 reward posters for the area's unsolved homicides.
About two months ago, they even brought out a bellowing church choir to stand on the corner of 15th and C streets SE and sing away the drug dealers. The activism against drugs and violence in this eastern segment of Capitol Hill has become a regular part of neighborhood life, like yard sales in the spring and raking leaves in the fall.
But each time there is another shooting, such as the one on Nov. 27 that killed one man and critically wounded another, residents and D.C. police say they become increasingly frustrated over how and when, if ever, they will drive the violence off their streets.
"When something like this happens, it throws a whole monkey wrench into the system," said Lt. Chris Cummings of the 1st Police District. "We are doing everything we can, and it still happens. We have to try and not let this deter us."
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey accepted an invitation, issued by residents and D.C. Council member Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6), to meet with the neighbors Dec. 15.
There have been 33 homicides in police Patrol Service Area 109, the area that runs from Eastern Market at Seventh Street and Independence Avenue SE to the D.C. Jail at 19th and D streets SE. Twenty remain unsolved, police said. Most of the victims were males in their late teens or early twenties, police said. Many killings are believed to be drug-related. Some are linked to arguments that turned lethal when guns were pulled out.
In some ways, the last shooting was one of the more shocking. The gunshots that erupted Nov. 27 didn't occur under the cover of night or in an alley. They rang out on a sunny day, on a street where parents teach their small children to ride bicycles and where older couples sit on their porches and chat.
Deandre Ray, 18, and Jumar Adarr, 19, were sitting in an automobile in the 1400 block of D Street SE about 3:15 p.m. when they were shot, police said. Investigators said an assault rifle may have been used in the attack along with a handgun.
Ray was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center and was pronounced dead minutes later. Adarr, who was shot several times, was taken to D.C. General Hospital, where he was on life support in extremely critical condition.
On Friday, the neighbors stood on the corner of 15th and D Street SE again, holding candles and praying and calling for an end to the violence.
"Are we frustrated? Yes," said the Rev. Avier Salter of Victory Praise Church of God and Christ. "Are we throwing in the towel? No. Our work is still cut out for us."
His church on South Carolina Avenue SE works with some of the young men whom church members see hanging out on the corner. He started a mentoring program, and members go out on a weekly basis and introduce themselves to those standing on the corner. During Friday's vigil, Salter called for a 30-day cease-fire.
David Barrows, a four-year resident of 15th and D Street SE, said he has heard at least six of the shootings. The night Ray and Adarr were shot, he said, he heard a howl, the same sound he heard July 3. That afternoon, someone fired a bullet into the victim's stomach.
"I've gone to vigils. It's like, what do you do this time?" asked Barrows. "We have to do something different. It almost gets too predictable."
The neighborhood tried to get attention last December by mailing invitations to city officials for the "Capitol Hill Crack House and Alley Tour," a six-block excursion of six vacant buildings used in the drug trade, according to residents.
Barrows said that more police protection is needed and that maybe the FBI should be called.
"I think there is a lot of very sophisticated help in this city. These are murders not too far from the Capitol," he said. "I think we need to be able to meet with the police chief and the mayor, and it needs to be serious. It's not a photo opportunity."
Other residents believe the police are doing more and the community also should work harder. The neighborhood is among six areas targeted for a local-federal effort to combat open-air drug markets.
Residents also wrote a historic guidebook, with details about the area and its late-19th-century brick row houses, to attract new homeowners who would fix up the properties.
Susan Coleman, who has lived in the neighborhood about 12 years, helps distributes a monthly newsletter. She also attends community meetings every third Tuesday.
"The great dream is to stop the drugs," Coleman said. "What my goal is right now is to restore the neighborhood, to all work together for common goals instead of just chewing out the police."
Ambrose said she hopes that meeting with Ramsey is a step in that direction. She and others still believe they can fix things. It's the only choice they have, Ambrose said.
"To have these things happen on a nice day, it's a miracle that there weren't people out raking their leaves," Ambrose said of the Nov. 27 shootings. "We all need to cooperate to solve this."