About 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Fatma Nayir was sitting behind the counter in her Anacostia pizza shop watching the latest episode of “Empire” when a man with a gun entered and demanded money.
She handed him $30 from the cash register under the counter. The robber then demanded money from the sole customer in Mama’s Pizza Kitchen, stealing a watch, cellphone and keys. Nayir then called D.C. police. No one was hurt.
Nayir, who is originally from Turkey, said her five-year-old shop in the 2000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE has been robbed about five times in the past year. Now, the Anacostia community is raising money to buy security cameras for her business.
“These [robbers] are not from our neighborhood, this neighborhood is great. We are really supportive and everyone knows everyone,” Nayir said. “You don’t make money, but you make lots of friends.”
Local activist Ronald Moten, who co-founded the now-defunct Peaceoholics organization, was walking by the pizza shop Wednesday when he saw Nayir upset and talking to police outside. She told him she was robbed again, and Moten decided to launch an online fundraising campaign to buy Mama’s Pizza Kitchen the security cameras.
“I said ‘we got to do something, enough is enough,'” Moten said. “One, she has good food, and two, she shows the community a lot of love. We can’t afford to lose her.”
The goal was to raise $800 for the equipment, but the campaign has already surpassed that amount, taking in $1,330 in less than two days. Someone donated the cameras, and the money raised will be used for installation costs and to purchase software to record and save the security footage.
Any additional money will go to Nayir so she can recoup what’s been stolen over the past year.
Unlike other shops in the neighborhood, Mama’s Pizza Kitchen doesn’t have Plexiglas separating Nayir from customers, and she says she has no interest in installing one. Moten said this is part of what makes Nayir so beloved: While other takeout places in the area try to distance themselves from the community, Nayir welcomes them in.
“We want to change the [neighborhood],” Nayir said. “It’s great people here and we don’t want the bad people taking over.”