Proposal Unveiled to Develop Former Frager’s Paint Store Parcel at 12th and Pennsylvania, SE

1123 - 1129 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

1123 – 1129 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE

Early concept for residential/retail development at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  The white portion is a historical structure incorporated into the new development.

Early concept for residential/retail development at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. The white portion is a historical structure incorporated into the new development.

View of the proposed concept looking west.  The dimensions of the site's former one story building remain as a distinct element of the building's design.

View of the proposed concept looking west. The dimensions of the site’s former one story building remain as a distinct element of the building’s design.

This view shows how the proposal fits into the Frager's block.

This view shows how the proposal fits into the Frager’s block.

Proposal Unveiled to Develop Former Frager’s Paint Store Parcel at 12th and Pennsylvania, SE

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday night, ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee heard representatives of PGN Architects present a proposal for the redevelopment of 1123-1129 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, a series of retail shops which include the former Frager’s Paint store, an Asian restaurant, and Pizza Iole.

PGN Architect Jeff Goins described the proposal as a very early concept, intended to brief the Committee on the intent of the property’s owner.  No formal actions toward redevelopment have yet been taken, but over the next couple of months, the architects will take the proposal before the Historic Preservation Review Board and meet with the community to explain the details of the project.  Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg, in whose single member district the project resides, will host community meetings where PGN Architects will explain the details of the proposed development, which lies in the Capitol Hill Historic District.

The proposal would comprise 30 to 32 residential units with 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail.  .

The reaction of the Committee to the proposal was generally positive, with Chair Nick Burger expressing his personal reaction to the proposed design, calling it “cool, not boring, distinctive….punchy.”  The architects had considered a more conventional approach along the lines of Butterfield House, but had opted for another design inspired by modern structures in historic neighborhoods in Paris and Lisbon, as well as the Stanton Development building at 7th and Pennsylvania which houses Le Pain Quotidien.

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The Week Ahead…CM Allen’s Oversight Roundtable on Youth Rehabilitation Act Sentencing Thursday

Progress continues on Buchanan Park - the redevelopment of the Buchanan School site adjacent to and on the west side of the southeast Safeway.

Progress continues on Buchanan Park – the redevelopment of the Buchanan School site adjacent to and on the west side of the southeast Safeway.

The Week Ahead…CM Charles Allen’s Oversight Roundtable on Youth Rehabilitation Act Thursday

by Larry Janezich

Monday, February 6

  1. Capitol Hill Restoration Society Historic Preservation Committee meets at 6:30pm, Kirby House, 420 10th Street, SE.

Tuesday, February 7

  1. ANC6B Planning & Zoning Committee meets at 7:00pm, in the Cafeteria at St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue, SE.

Among items on the agenda:

417 4th Street, SE, (HPRB denied ANC6B approved application for special exception to permit a third floor in December.)  This appears to be a reconsideration of the Historic Preservation Application – perhaps of a new concept – for construction of a three-story rear addition to an existing three-unit apartment house in the RF-3 Zone at premises.

517 7th Street, SE; Historic Preservation application for a 3-story addition.

1335 Massachusetts Avenue, SE, Historic Preservation Application for rear second story addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

1335 Massachusetts Avenue, SE, Zoning Adjustment application for rear second story addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

Application for Minor Modification of Zoning Adjustment order for 1401 A Street, SE.

608 G Street, SE, Zoning Adjustment for rear first-floor addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

337 16th Street, SE, Zoning Adjustment for rear first-floor addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

1415 Potomac Avenue, SE, Zoning Adjustment for two story rear addition to an existing flat.

1336 E Street, SE, Zoning Adjustment for rear second-story addition to an existing one-family dwelling.

1333 M Street, SE, – Application for PUD Modification to allow 2 more years before permitting.

Concept Design Presentation, 1123 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, PGN Architects.

  1. ANC 6C Parks and Events Committee meets at Kaiser-Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center, 700 2nd Street, NE.

Among items on the agenda:

Capitol Hill Classic – Presentation concerning the 38th annual Capitol Hill Classic race, a fundraiser for the PTA of the Capitol Hill Cluster School, scheduled for Sunday, May 21, 2017. Representative: Roberta Stewart, Outreach Chair, Capitol Hill Classic.

NoMa Parks – Update from NoMa Parks Foundation concerning the status of NoMa parks projects. Representative: Stacie West, NoMa Parks Foundation.

Reservation 84 – Discussion of neighborhood effort to revitalize a triangular public park space (bounded by Constitution Avenue, NE, Massachusetts Avenue, NE, and 7th Street, NE, and potential ANC6C grant application requesting funds for the purchase of trees.

Wednesday, February 8

  1. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C meets at the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

Presentation:  Fighting climate pollution in D.C. – Jeremiah Lowery

Capitol Hill Classic, Sunday, May 21, 2017, fundraiser for the PTA, Capitol Hill Cluster Schools.

Revitalization of Reservation 84, park at Constitution, Massachusetts, and 7th Street, and potential ANC 6C grant request to plant trees.

725 L Street NE, Zoning Adjustment for addition of one-story sunroom.

108-110 8th Street, NE, revised application for three-story rear addition and one-story garage with attached studio.

646 6th Street, NE, Zoning Adjustment application for third-floor addition.

Council oversight hearings.

K Street traffic study.

Union Station, First Street entrance.

Vision Zero to eliminate D.C. traffic deaths, second rulemaking.

NoMa underpass at L Street NE.

300 Maryland Avenue N.E., hardscaping, landscaping, and lighting.

  1. ANC6B Transportation Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center.

Among items on the agenda:

Overview and Discussion of DDOT’s 17th Street, SE, Improvement Project with DDOT Representative.

Review of DDOT’s Vision Zero Revised Proposed Rulemaking.

Establishment of a Committee Working Group on Alley Naming.

Update on Status of DDOT Study.

Thursday, February 9

  1. Councilmember Charles Allen’s Judiciary & Public Safety Public Oversight Roundtable

The DC City Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a Public Oversight Roundtable on the following Matter:  Sentencing in the District of Columbia: Agency Roles and Responsibilities, at 9:30am in the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 500.

The Committee invites the public to testify or to submit written testimony. Anyone wishing to testify at the roundtable should contact the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety via email at judiciary@dccouncil.us or at (202) 727-8275, and provide their name,  telephone number, organizational affiliation, and title (if any), by close of business, Monday, February 6, 2017.

  1. ANC6B Alcohol Beverage Control Committee meets at 7:00pm, Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Among items on the agenda:

Capitol Hill Tandoor, 419 8th Street, SE, Withdraw Protest, support renewal with Settlement Agreement.

Pretzel Bakery, 257 15th ST, SE, New Class “D” Restaurant License.

Update on Hank’s Oyster Bar Protest and decision on the Motion in Limine.

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Here’s How Policing Will Change on Capitol Hill Under MPD’s New Sector Plan

Here's a map of the three Sectors comprising MPD District 1

Here’s a map of the three Sectors comprising MPD District 1

2017-02-02-19-22-05

MPD Officials and officers, from Sector 2, First District, met with ten residents of PSA 107 last night. MPD reps from right: Captain John Knutsen, Lieutenant Crystal Beslow, and Sgt. Al Boyd.

Here’s How Policing Will Change on Capitol Hill Under MPD’s New Sector Plan

PSA’s 104, 107 & 108 Constitute Sector Two of First District’s Three Sectors

By Larry Janezich

Thursday night, at the PSA 107 meeting, MPD Captain John Knutson explained the operation of the new Sector Concept instituted January 3 by MPD.  It will, he said, bring additional management accountability to districts, allow for faster dispatch, lower response times, and improve service to the community.  The sector concept does not eliminate PSAs – those boundaries within the First District remain the same.

Under the Sector model, each patrol district is divided into three sectors with a Sector being an informal grouping of Police Service Areas (PSAs).  Each sector will be led by a captain, who will report directly to their respective district commanders. Each Sector will also have 3 Lieutenants on 3 shifts for round the clock coverage.

Knutsen pledged 24 hour availability 7 days a week, and attendance at monthly community PSA meetings in a renewed effort to improve community policing.  Lieutenants will share responsibility for overseeing the PSAs and personnel in their sector on any given shift.

According to Knutsen, the main benefit of the Sector Concept is that it will allow MPD to pool resources of the three PSAs and allow police to shift resources where needed to respond to crime patterns.

While Knutsen and his Lieutenants are available 24 hours a day by phone or email, if residents witness a crime in progress, they should call 911.

Knutsen stressed: “For this sector, I am the decision maker and I’ll be at meetings,” referring to PSA meetings.  He said that MPD will take a look at meetings to see how they can be structured to better serve the community – or example, next month’s meeting will be held on the first Thursday in Northeast Library.  Referring to his fellow captains in charge of Sectors, Knutsen said, “We all run Sectors as little police stations.  We’re all competing against each other.”

Officials say they generally answer emails 24/7 and the cell phone when at work.

Captain Knutsen’s contact information:

John.Knutsen@DC.gov

Cell:  202 438 8486

Lieutenant Crystal Beslow’s contact information:

Crystal.beslow@dc.gov

Cell: 202 437 1714

For more on the Sector Concept, go here:  http://bit.ly/2l5tsDV

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Protest Scenes from Monday/Tuesday Night at Supreme Court – Photo Essay

Following are photos of activities Monday night and tonight in front of the Supreme Court.  Last  night, protesters gathered to express their objections to Trump’s executive order banning Muslim refugees and immigrants.  Tonight, protesters gathered to take advantage of the live television camera set up on the sidewalk in front of the Court as reporters awaited Trump’s announcement of his nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Monday night, circa 7:50pm, an orderly crowd protesting Trump's executive order banning Muslims confined itself to the sidewalks, encouraged by US Capitol Police on motorcycles, who circulated to keep the streets clear.

Monday night, circa 7:50pm, an orderly crowd protesting Trump’s executive order banning Muslims confined itself to the sidewalks, encouraged by US Capitol Police on motorcycles, who circulated to keep the streets clear.

Until circa 7:30pm, when the protesters decided to take the street.

Until circa 7:30pm, when the protesters decided to take the street.

US Capitol Police were ready to resist any move to occupy the plaza on the US Capitol's East Front as had happened the day before.

US Capitol Police were ready to resist any move to occupy the plaza on the US Capitol’s East Front as had happened the day before.

Tuesday Night.  20 television cameras set up in front ot the Supreme Court, as reporters awaited the announcement of Trump's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Tuesday Night. 20 television cameras set up in front ot the Supreme Court, as reporters awaited the announcement of Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Protesters took advantage of the presence of television to voice their objections.

Protesters took advantage of the presence of television to voice their objections.

US Capitol Police, at the ready this time to keep protesters out of the street.

US Capitol Police, at the ready – this time – to keep protesters out of the street.

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City Launches New Effort to Develop Hill East Boys and Girls Club

Councilmember Charles Allen kicks off the re-boot of the development process for the Hill East Boys and Girls Club on Saturday

Councilmember Charles Allen kicks off the re-boot of the development process for the Hill East Boys and Girls Club on Saturday

ANC6B Commissioner Daniel Ridge reiterated the preference for a community amenity expressed by the working groups at Saturday's meeting.

ANC6B Commissioner Daniel Ridge reiterated the preference for a community amenity expressed by the working groups at Saturday’s meeting.

Deputy Mayer for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner addresses residents.  Boys and Girls Club Project Manager Dion Townley is at left.

Deputy Mayer for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner addresses residents. Boys and Girls Club Project Manager Dion Townley is at left.

More than 40 Hill East residents came out to talk about their vision for the development.

More than 40 Hill East residents came out to talk about their vision for the development.

City Launches New Effort to Develop Hill East Boys and Girls Club

Neighbors’ Top Priority is a Community Space Amenity

by Larry Janezich

Saturday, the office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (DMPED) launched a new effort to develop the long abandoned Hill East Boys and Girls Club.   A previous effort in 2015 was withdrawn in the face of substantial community opposition to the single viable proposal which came in response to a tightly constructed set of requirements set by the then-project manager, the Department of General Services.

Councilmember Charles Allen, took credit on Saturday for bringing that effort to a halt and for moving responsibility for the development to DMPED, which he termed a more appropriate overseer.

The new effort is occurring under a relatively new process “Our RFP”, i.e. “Our Request for Proposals”, the goal of which is basing the development of a public property in accordance with what the community wants the development to be, and with greater transparency.

Early indications during the DMPED-sponsored community meeting on Saturday is that Hill East wants a development that includes a community amenity – a public space which will anchor the neighborhood and attract neighbors on a daily basis.

ANC6B Commissioner Daniel Ridge, in whose single member district the project lies, told the 40 plus residents who turned out for the meeting that the constant refrain he has heard was that residents pictured themselves as users of a common space in the development, and that they clearly wanted a community amenity they can walk to and have an opportunity to visit.

The structure of “Our RFP” process involved attendees breaking up into working groups of five or six members, and determining a list of their priorities for the development, which were then presented to the group.  DMPED will extend the input process with an on-line engagement forum here:  http://bit.ly/2jt6ghw

The report of the several working groups with respect to the use of the building reflected an initial preference for public space, housing, and a facility that will have no impact on parking in the neighborhood.

DMPED listed the allowable uses of the building, as follows:  residential, place of worship, charter or public school, local government facility, recreation center, library, small health care facility, emergency shelter, boarding house, grocery store, private club, and a child/elderly development center.  The building is not designated historic, and does not need to be preserved.

A second community meeting to further prioritize preferences will be held on February 16, at Friendship Chamberlain Elementary, 1345 Potomac Avenue, SE.  DMPED will then write and release an RFP in March or April.  After four to six months for review – during which ANC6B would weigh in with its recommendation – DMPED will make a selection.

For a rate look inside the Boys and Girls Club, see previous CHC post here:  http://bit.ly/2gsF8CZ

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The Week Ahead….

Covered walk way at the Hine Project, on 8th Street, SE.

Covered walk way at the Hine Project, on 8th Street, SE.  January 25, 2017.

The Week Ahead….

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, January 31

ANC6B Executive Committee meets at 7:00pm in Hill Center to set the agenda for the ANC6B February meeting.

Wednesday, February 1

  1. ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee meets at 6:30pm, Northeast Library, 7th and D Streets, NE.

Among items on the draft agenda:

725 L Street, NE, Revised application for a special exception from the lot occupancy

requirements to allow the addition of a one-story sunroom to an existing

one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone

108-110 8th Street, NE,  Second revised application for concept approval for the construction of a three-story rear addition and new one-story garage with attached studio.

646 6th Street, NE, – Application for a. a special exception from the lot occupancy requirements of and the nonconforming structure requirements and b. special exceptions from the upper floor addition requirements and the building height requirements to construct a third-floor addition above an existing two-story one-family dwelling in the RF-1 Zone.

Discussion of upcoming Council oversight hearings

Thursday, February 2

  1. ANC6B Alcohol Beverage Committee meets at 7:00pm, in Hill Center.

Agenda not available at press time.

  1. PSA 107 is scheduled to meet at 7:00pm in Southeast Library
  1. Friends of Southeast Library (FOSEL) meet at 5:30pm in Southeast Library. Person interested in joining FOSEL are welcome.

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Protest of President’s Ban on Muslims Spreads to Capitol Hill

 

The scene at the U.S. Capitol Building, circa 3:30pm

The scene at the U.S. Capitol Building, circa 3:30pm

2017-01-29-15-27-44

Protest of President’s Ban on Muslims Spreads to Capitol Hill

by Larry Janezich

A rally against Donald Trump’s executive order targeting all refugees as well as immigrants from 7 predominantly Muslim countries which was held in Lafayette Park today, ended up on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol.  To have this large a demonstration occur on the Capitol Grounds without a permit is nearly unprecedented, and was likely permitted by US Capitol Police only because it was Sunday, and few or no legislators were in the building.

About 2:45pm,  a group protestors started moving through the crowd, claiming to be organizers, and announcing that they were marching to the Capitol.  Since this had the appearance of a spontaneous movement, it is unlikely that a permit had been obtained.  Perhaps half of the 8 – 10 thousand protestors (my totally subjective rough estimate) ended up at the Capitol, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, totally filling the street.  Near the Capitol, the marchers were diverted to Louisiana Avenue toward Union Station, which worked at first, until a group well back in the march broke away from the others, with cries of “Up the hill” and headed straight up Constitution Avenue and on to the Capitol Grounds.

Peace for Iran, which bills itself as a group of international volunteers, announced the “No Muslim Ban” rally yesterday, calling for supporters to rally from 1 – 3pm today at Lafayette Park, across from the White House.

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ANC6B Lays Smackdown on Spike Mendelsohn’s Capitol Hill Burger, Pizza, Steak Joints

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ANC6B Lays Smackdown on Spike Mendelsohn’s Capitol Hill Burger, Pizza, Steak Joints

Alcohol Board (ABRA) Backs ANC6B’s Authority to Protect Residents’ Quality of Life

by Larry Janezich

On Wednesday, ABRA renewed alcohol licenses for Spike Mendelsohn’s three restaurants on Capitol Hill, but told him that they didn’t trust his ability to manage trash and rodent issues without specific direction from the Board – and they ordered him to take or continue a list of practices to address neighbors’ complaints.  Mendelsohn and his family run three restaurants on the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE:  Good Stuff Eatery, We The Pizza & Béarnaise.

In the decision, they affirmed ANC6B’s authority to establish operating practices to protect the quality of life of residential neighbors near the restaurants.  At the same time, the Board rejected the argument of Mendelsohn’s attorney, Andrew Klein, that that trash and rodents have nothing to do with the liquor license.

ANC6B’s representative in the case was Alcohol Beverage Committee Chair, Chander Jayaraman, whose position was that restaurant operating practices are intimately tied to the serving of alcohol and to the issues of rodents, noise, odors and trash.

Jayaraman had asked ABRA to attach specific conditions to the license renewal: either 1) limit the hours of operation and sales until the applicant can demonstrate effective trash management practices, or 2) require the applicants to take specific measures to address the trash management issues.  Earlier this month, Jayaraman was elected Chair of ANC6B.

Nearby residents played a critical role in making the case against the restaurants, providing eyewitness accounts and photographs documenting abuses and illustrating how the restaurant operations were affecting their quality of life.

After the order was issued, Jayaraman issued a statement saying, “I think it is important … that the Board found it “highly unlikely that the Applicants will comply with this requirement in the future without Board action.”

Jayaraman took issue with the owners’ assertions that the restaurants’ trash is picked up twice a day and that the restaurants power wash the trash area twice a day, which were included in ABRA’s Findings of Fact.  None the less, he said, “the conclusion that the Board reached and the remedy that they imposed on the Applicant’s license are consistent with the recommendation that the ANC made in this case and which the ANC attempted to negotiate with the Applicant in good faith before moving forward with the Protest.”

In addition, Jayaraman stated, “ANC 6B is committed to working cooperatively with any and all establishments to find a mutually agreeable resolution to community concerns and address quality of life issues raised by residential neighbors. However, we hope that this will serve as a bellwether that the ANC will not shy away from strongly advocating on behalf of residents when there is evidence of egregious violations of District regulations.”

For previous posts on this case, see here:  http://bit.ly/2fEJRgS

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The Week Ahead….Community Input Sought on Future of Boys and Girls Club Next Saturday

Hine Project, South Building, January 20, 2017, circa 7:30pm.

Hine Project, South Building, January 20, 2017, circa 7:30pm.

The Week Ahead….Community Input Sought on Future of Boys and Girls Club Next Saturday

by Larry Janezich

Tuesday, January 24

  1. Maury Area AdHoc Committee on Transportation Safety is hosting a Community Meeting to present and discuss proposals to improve transportation safety for all residents who live around Maury Elementary.  6:30pm at the Maury Elementary Multi-purpose Room.  Representatives from DDOT, MPD, the Mayor’s office and Councilmember Allen’s office will be in attendance.

Wednesday, January 25

  1. Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee meets at 7:00pm, North Hall, Eastern Market.

Among items on the agenda:

Election of the Independent community member

Report from the Executive Committee:

Bylaws

RFK site proposal

Organizations represented on EMCAC

Safety Bollards

Saturday, January 28

  1. DMPED will host an upcoming meeting to solicit community input on the future of the Boys and Girls club site at 17th and Massachusetts, SE. 10:00am, at the Friendship Chamberlain Elementary School, 1345 Potomac Avenue, SE.

 

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The Women’s March: Impressions & Photo Essay – Part 1

View from 3rd Street, looking northwest at the Native American Museum.  Circa 11:45am.

View from 3rd Street, looking northwest at the Native American Museum. Circa 11:45am.  (click to enlarge)

In front of the Department of HHS on Independence Avenue, looking northeast.

In front of the Department of HHS on Independence Avenue, looking northeast.

6th Street looking north at the Air and Space Museum, from the railroad bridge over 6th Street.

6th Street looking north at the Air and Space Museum, from the railroad bridge over 6th Street.

View from 6th Street, looking north, at the Smithsonian Castle.

View from 6th Street, looking north, at the Smithsonian Castle.

Our progress toward 14th Street was halted by the closed 9th Street Expressway, but going onto the Expressway allowed access to L'Enfant Plaza.

Our progress toward 14th Street was halted by the closed 9th Street Expressway, but going onto the Expressway allowed access to L’Enfant Plaza.

A young marcher reflects at the Department of Energy plaza.

A young marcher reflects at the Department of Energy plaza.

                  (For Women’s March Photo Essay Part 2, click here: http://bit.ly/2jGtlz1)

The Women’s March:  Impressions & Photo Essay – Part 1

by Larry Janezich

Capitol Hill Corner and a friend from Colorado spent most of Saturday near Independence Avenue at the rally portion of the Women’s March on Washington.

After failing to meet up with friends at Capitol South Metro, we made our way into the crowd via 3rd Street about 11:30am.  There was a group of a half dozen red-hatted counter-protesters near Bartholdi Park, and counter counter-protesters engaging them – the only counter protesters we encountered.

At the time, it was virtually impossible to get onto Independence Avenue.  It was also impossible to hear the speakers.  Security in the form of an MPD presence seemed non-existent, though there were a handful of members of the National Guard in their camouflage uniforms.

The crowds were overwhelming and the organizers were not prepared.  Denied permission to rally on the mall by the U.S. Park Service at the direction of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, organizers were left with the next best option offered by the DC government – the space at the intersection of Third Street and Independence.  But there was nothing that was going to prevent demonstrators from spilling onto the Mall and that’s what happened.  Hundreds of thousands of marchers could not get close enough to the stage or to speakers to hear the program.  Parade marshals were seldom helpful, long lines developed at Porto johns, there were no cell phone or Wi-Fi signals, and the density of the crowds increased to dangerous levels – at times, we found ourselves in crowds where we could not move.

That being said, the crowd was enthusiastic and peaceful, diverse in issues, gender and age.  A rough and highly subjective guess is that some 10 – 12 % of the crowd was men.  Another rough guess is that some 15% was African American men and women.  There were significant numbers of Asians and Latinos.  There were people in wheelchairs, people with babies in strollers, people with dogs, and many children.  Occasionally, a breeze carried the smell of weed.  The unofficial pink “pussy hat” with points resembling feline ears were everywhere – mostly worn by women, but some by men.

We made our way toward what we thought would be the western fringe of the crowd to get near the head of the march scheduled to move along 14th Street to Constitution, then left to the dispersal point on the Ellipse, south of the White House.  We tried to stay close to Independence when we could, taking advantage of the sparser populations next to the federal buildings, but occasionally being forced away from Independence and onto the side streets running away from the rally because of the dense crowds.  At one point, near 12th Street, at least 50 members of Washington’s Batalá all-women Afro-Brazilian Drum Band – holding their drums over their heads – somehow made their way through the crowd.

At 1:00pm – when the march to the Ellipse was to begin – we found ourselves immobilized by the crush of bodies on 12th Street, half a block from Independence, and realized that the Avenue was entirely filled with demonstrators all the way to 14th Street.  Occasionally a chain of people with a destination in mind would inch their way through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, holding each other’s hands or coats, fearful of being separated.  Later, a young woman passing by was saying, “It’s hard to get out of a large group of people, especially when your friend has passed out from standing so long.”  From somewhere behind us, there were impatient chants of “Start This March, Start This March.”

Remarkably, the Batala Drum Band came through again, having gotten stuck somewhere on the way to Independence.  Back on track, the crowd parted for them like the Red Sea, hoping their presence signaled the imminent start of the march.  One band member was overheard advising the member in front of her on crowd tactics:  “All right, Maria, you’re going to have to be a little…pushy.”

At 1:45pm, a woman nearby who had downloaded a District Homeland Security Agency app to her phone said that she had received an alert that organizers had cancelled the march because there were too many people.

About 2:00pm, during a few seconds of Wi-Fi availability, CHC received an email alert from the Washington Post saying organizers had cancelled the march.  The message had been sent half an hour earlier.

As word spread, a few people started moving back away from Independence, but some of those farther away moved forward to take their places.  But the crowd loosened a little and there was a little more breathing room.

Then, with no direction, and perhaps owing to some vacancies on Independence as people began to move off, the crowd we were in began to slowly move onto and west on Independence.  We moved around a Jumbotron near the Department of Agriculture.  Organizers were announcing that a 12 year old girl had been separated from her family and could be reunited with them at the stage.  Once we got through the east arch of the Agriculture Department building, progress came to a dead stop.

We (CHC and friend) moved along the Ag building to 14th Street and then onto the mall, where large numbers of people were arriving from points farther east on the mall and from those massed east on Independence.  14th Street was packed and completely stopped.  We could see large numbers of marchers in the distance across 14th Street on the grounds of the Washington Monument.  Remaining seemed to promise more of the same.  Nothing had been heard from the Batala Drum Band.  We walked back up the Mall to the Capitol Building.

There were contradictory reports in the news media whether a march had occurred.  Some demonstrators were on the Ellipse, but from what this reporter saw, it was not part of anything you could call an organized march.  It only mattered to the extent that there was no sense of closure for many of the people who had come to march to make their voices heard.  But even that didn’t matter because of what they came away with:  a sense of solidarity and the reassurance that they are not alone.  What mattered is that they were here and participated and were counted.  And with no sense of closure, the future of the rally – which could become a movement – is open.

The message on a sign carried by a young man who exited the Capitol South Metro stop this morning  said it best:  “Action is the antidote to despair” – Joan Baez.

 

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