Contrary to the impression left by some Post articles [Metro, Nov. 15; Metro, June 27], Ward 1 is thriving. Our neighborhoods have demonstrated that we can preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing while putting in new market-rate properties alongside our historical businesses.
We treasure our diversity. We work hard through affordable housing initiatives, rent control reform and battles with slumlords to conserve as much diversity as possible in a red-hot real estate market.
Many previously troubled areas are now safe, thriving communities that boast long-term residents who lived through the hard times and newcomers from across the region. Small, locally owned businesses that withstood decades of challenges find themselves side-by-side with new projects and national franchises. Every day we see our ward's economic engine churning out new opportunities and employment, from which everyone benefits.
To be sure, this renewal has its tensions. But a nightclub that attracts and may actually foster violence is not an example of such tensions. It has nothing to do with gentrification. It has everything to do with crime. No right-thinking person, of whatever background, wanted to be awakened by more than 30 gunshots outside of Kili's Kafe at 2:45 in the morning. Homicides such as that of the young man at Club U in February -- who was stabbed in the bar and then dragged bleeding and dying to be dumped in the lobby of the Reeves Center -- are intolerable.
These patterns of violence led me to join with Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey to fight for the suspension and revocation of the clubs' alcohol licenses. In a political effort to save Club U's license, a scurrilous, racist flier was produced suggesting that I was interested in driving minority businesses out of U Street. It is way off the mark to suggest [front page, Nov. 13; letters, Nov. 19] that the posters were indicative of neighborhood gentrification pressure.
The posters were intended to pressure me to back off the license revocation efforts. It didn't work then, and it won't work ever.
Our residents, old-timers and newcomers, are entitled to peace, order and quiet. Family members of the victims of this violence -- all of whom are African American -- and neighbors supported the closure of these establishments. No one I know from the immediate neighborhood was anything but in favor of our efforts.
Waiting idly for more bloodshed is in no one's interest except those who are profiting from alcohol sales. And crime surely jeopardizes the diversity-sensitive renewal in full swing.
-- Jim Graham
The writer represents Ward 1 on the D.C. Council.