City Paper is not for tourists
Over the last six years, Karl Lass has been leading Orange Hat anti-crime patrols around Blagden Alley and working closely with police to rid his neighborhood of prostitutes, drunks, and other
troublemakers. He has even allowed police to use a house he owns for surveillance operations. But when Lass headed out to his stoop to sip a beer on Friday, May 9, he found his normally friendly neighborhood beat cops slapping handcuffs on his 29-year-old daughter, Isabel, for drinking in public. “Most of those officers have been on patrol with us,” he says. Lass got Isabel out of jail by paying a $25 fine. Later, he checked the law and found that he probably could have fought Isabel’s arrest because she had been inside a fenced yard rather than on the street. But he let it go. “On principle, I agree with the policy of zero tolerance,” says Lass, who lives across the street from M Street Towers, where neighborhood vagrants used to sit outside drinking and urinating in public. Since the police have started zero tolerance, though, he says the street is much quieter. “I guess they had cracked down on one side of the street, so they thought they had to do it to the other side, too,” he says with a laugh. From now on, Lass says, when he and Isabel sit on the stoop, “We’ll have a soft drink instead.”
On June 13, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) threw a retirement party at the Washington Times banquet hall for Deputy Chief Charles Roscoe Bacon, whom Chief Larry Soulsby forced out this spring in a face-saving housecleaning. As part of the ceremony, the Prince George’s County police department presented Bacon with the department’s honorary major’s badge. Cpl. Michael Montgomery, spokesperson for the P.G. County cops, says the award recognizes Bacon’s exemplary participation in joint operations between MPD and his department. The department’s awards, Montgomery says, are reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the county, and the major’s badge is reserved for high-ranking officials in government or business. Several D.C. guests at the party, though, reportedly got a chuckle out of the proceedings, because the P.G. cops apparently didn’t realize that Bacon had been arrested in 1981 on their turf for allegedly trying to kill his girlfriend. The charges were dropped after the woman refused to testify (she later married Bacon), and Bacon was not fired. Although MPD demoted him, Bacon fought for his job and was eventually promoted to deputy chief. Hence the term “Bacon defense,” which the police union has used successfully for 15 years to keep law-breaking D.C. cops from being fired.
Malik Zulu Shabazz has kept a pretty low profile since he lost the special election for the Ward 8 council seat two years ago, but the Howard Law School grad’s name is back on D.C. telephone polesalthough this time he’s not running for office. Shabazz has plastered the District with flyers reading, “Have you been INJURED in a CAR ACCIDENT? You may be entitled to compensation $$$.” Yes indeed, the radical Muslim activist has joined the ranks of the area’s personal injury lawyers. Although Shabazz lives in the District, his office is in Maryland, where he passed the bar last year. He plans to move the practice into the District when he enters the D.C. bar, hopefully by the end of the year. Shabazz says that while he’s working as a solo practitioner, he retains a council of mentors that includes John Floyd, a D.C. defense attorney. Floyd has represented members of the D.C. school board, including Terry Hairston, discredited Ward 7 board member. “I’m going to become the black Jack Olender of personal injury,” Shabazz says.