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WE ARE WRITING TO protest the hatchet job done on our publication Street Stories by Liza Mundy (“Every Street Tells a Story,” The District Line, 11/5).
In her article, Mundy muses, “Are the tales fact or fiction?” Her article makes it clear that she believes they are fiction. To convince the reader of this fact, she selectively quotes fragments of statements we made to her—and in so doing, utterly distorts what we really said.
Mundy’s article focuses on a tour we conducted of 7th and 8th Streets SE. Due to lack of space, we cannot possibly quote and refute all of her distortions, so we have decided to recount the events surrounding “Renée,” a homeless woman we met on the tour. We do this in order to contrast the truth with Mundy’s account.
At the start of our tour, we encountered Renée. She had a story to tell us, so Bryce paid her $2 in advance and asked her to wait for us to return. Upon returning to 7th Street, we found Renée spreadeagled on the hood of a police car, surrounded by five officers. Renée was subjected to an illegal search because the man living in 711 7th St. SE ordered her to move, and when she refused, he called the police and accused her of tricking. As we told Mundy, this man has a habit of calling the police to harass anyone who he feels does not belong in the area.
Mundy does not relate the unconstitutionality of this police conduct. Nor does she mention that Renée was waiting on us, that she was charged with illegal conduct of which she was not guilty, and that she was searched for no reason. On the contrary, Mundy implied that she deserved this treatment. Indeed, the half-dozen photographs taken by Darrow Montgomery clearly documenting this treatment were never published.
After this, we walked with Renée up 8th Street, where Renée talked to two friends who were standing in front of the bank building at 8th and G. All three were ordered to move by Officer Salome Wilson. They did not “fade away” as stated by Mundy. How Mundy and her photographer could overlook this scenario while standing three feet away remains unclear.Street Stories. She quotes Ken as saying, “Nothing, I guess.” But she failed to report that, afterward, Ken and Bryce told her that they split the cost of the issues and Ken is authorized to write about subjects of his own choosing.
Mundy attacked Ken’s article on National Public Radio as well, posing the same incredulity and viciousness, implying that Ken is a loose cannon whose stories can’t be trusted. This simply isn’t true. Like all stories published by Street Stories, we possess documentation to support our allegations concerning the government-funded radio and television network.
We believe we are making a contribution to Washington, D.C., journalism and we want people to know what we’re saying. We hope you will print this letter to give us a chance to defend our reputations.
Bryce A. Suderow, Editor, and Kenneth R. Kahn, Staff Reporter