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The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)’s new policy of “zero tolerance” for quality-of-life offenses in Adams Morgan—minicrimes like street people hustling parking spaces, for example—has netted a big, controversial fish: the neighborhood’s popular Saturday farmers’ market. The cops have suddenly discovered that after 22 years of continuous operation on the bustling corner of 18th and Columbia Road NW, the market needs a “certificate of occupancy” from Crestar Bank, on whose property it operates. But at a June 7 meeting, Crestar execs refused to sign, telling the vendors that inking the city document would leave them open to excessive financial liability. Meanwhile, the police have given the farmers until June 29 to get legal or get out. By closing the market, the bank could sow a public-relations disaster: Six hundred fervent veggie-lovers reportedly signed a pro-farmers petition at the market last Saturday, and local ANC commissioner William Schierer says if the bank evicts the farmers, public protests, including account closures, are “a virtual certainty.” Tony Mattera, a spokesman from Crestar’s corporate headquarters in Richmond, says the bank would like to find a solution, but that as matters now stand, “The farmers have to go.”
Final Feud Seems that not even big-gun MPD Chief Larry Soulsby could keep Shaw ANC commissioner Leroy J. Thorpe Jr. out of the clink. Founder of the neighborhood anti-crime group called “Red Hats,” Thorpe was sentenced on June 5 to 21 days in a halfway house for beating up Darryl Moment of the I Have a Dream Neighborhood Association last fall (See “Playground Feud,” 4/5). The scrap broke out as the two men were attending a meeting at the Kennedy Playground at 7th and O Streets NW. Moment suffered a broken ankle, but Thorpe, who Moment says started the fight, was not arrested until nearly a month after the incident occurred. Then, in an unusual move, Soulsby and former homicide division commander Capt. William Hennessey appeared in court as character witnesses on Thorpe’s behalf—even though Thorpe had a prior assault conviction. D.C. Superior Court Judge Peter Wolf was unswayed and found Thorpe guilty of misdemeanor simple assault. Moment says, “I can’t say that I’m actually pleased. I’m not sure what he should be sentenced to. But I don’t think he should be out on the street.”
Fish Flap To commemorate the 17th annual National Fishing Week last week, the sports fishing industry trucked 2,000 channel catfish and 1,000 bluegill up from a federal fish hatchery in Arkansas and plunked them into the litter-laden Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. There, some 525 area schoolchildren happily reeled them in with worm-baited hooks. But the festivities were interrupted by a skirmish between the U.S. Park Police and “Gill the Fish,” a new aqua-green mascot created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). As part of their new campaign against recreational fishing, Gill and his companions were protesting the fishing-week event with “Save Our Schools” and “Books Not Hooks” signs and leaflets. Park Police ousted them from the park for failing to secure a permit. “We don’t want two events going on at the same time at the same place,” says Park Service spokesman Earle Kittleman. However, Dan Katz, legislative counsel for the national American Civil Liberties Union, criticized the police action as “exactly what the First Amendment prohibits. If someone had shown up holding a picture of a fish with the words ‘Please Catch Me,’ I doubt the Park Police would have reacted the way they did.”