Thanks so much for
Paul Ruffins’ “Battered Neighborhood Syndrome” (5/31)! As a 70-year-old 36-year resident of Brookland, I long ago learned to stay out of Red’s way; his raucous “Hey, white boy, gimme a quatuh!” was not an imperative to hear at close hand, I had found, if I had neither change nor any inclination to part with what change I might have had. Ruffins’ article, complete with a careful investigation debunking neighborhood mythology about Red’s more glamorous origins, was vintage Washington City Paper journalism.
The 12th and Newton NE CVS/Pharmacy lost my business about eight months ago because of Red. One evening I watched from an opposite corner while Red harassed an older African-American woman (she looked to be in her mid-60s) for “a kiss” as she nervously tried to get into the CVS doorway (a group of younger men nonchalantly observed all this as they leaned against the wall unprotestingly). I then and there decided that I would drive the necessary mile to the Michigan Park CVS, to which I subsequently transferred all my prescriptions, and where I always now shop, although the 12th and Newton CVS is much closer. When I called the CVS manager later that evening to complain about Red’s intimidating presence as an obstacle to getting into the store for purchases, I was quickly and emphatically told that CVS stores can deal only with problems on the inside of the store, not on the sidewalk outside.
Incidentally, after reading Ruffins’ story last night, my apartment-mate called the 5th District police in a kind of informal effort to find out if local police were aware of the City Paper story. An officer on duty said he had read the story but he felt fairly certain that his superior on duty was not at all familiar with the piece, which had appeared five days earlier.
Red has been the last straw for me. His antics crown a whole list of reasons I’ll be leaving Brookland in a couple of months.
Please do keep up the good reporting with its lively style!(Rev’d) Edward F. James, Ph.D.