The Post's headline proclaiming "Police Warn Visitors Away From Georgetown" {front page, May 22} was, I suspect, very surprising to many Washingtonians. I believe, however, that the appearance of that headline became an inevitability the day we decided that any part of this city was unsafe and unworthy of protection by the civil authorities.

There are two main forces in the life of our city: the force of civilization and the force against it. To put it more mundanely, there are places where you can live in safety and places where you cannot count on the law to protect your life and liberty. This kind of segregation -- which usually follows lines of income and race -- divides the very soul of the city and poses a serious threat to its survival.

It is true, as the Bible said and as Lincoln reminded us, that a house divided against itself cannot stand. We must either liberate the citizens of Anacostia and Northeast from the daily fear that makes their lives a brutal struggle for safety -- or else resign ourselves to the gradual surrender of neighborhood after neighborhood, until the whole city is a "civilization-free zone."

Either all of Washington will be safe, or none of it will. Either all of us are protected citizens, or none of us is. It is -- as it always has been -- our choice. That's why the headline should not have been "Avoid Georgetown," but rather "Surrendering Anacostia, Northeast, Shaw Breeds Natural Result; Georgetown Abandoned; Further Decline Seen."


In a report on recent weekend street violence in Georgetown, a reference was made to individuals attacking someone after being "brushed" on the sidewalk.

This is certainly no matter to be taken lightly. The sidewalks in Georgetown are so narrow that, on some streets, no more than two people can walk abreast.

Observers of crowd behavior have reminded us that when anyone on a public street enters our private "space" we tend to react neurotically. This, along with the widespread drinking in Georgetown (largely done by teenagers with fake identification cards), would seem to explain the unruly behavior on the streets.

There is obviously no solution to this problem except to place more police on the streets. The sidewalks cannot be made wider, and the bar owners will continue to be permissive about checking ID cards because they would lose money if they got tough on the many teenagers who drink illegally in their bars on weekends. BILL O. RUBINO Washington