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Back in October, Ron Moten seemed to be sounding a warning: Après Moten, Le Déluge. After Moten, the flood.
That was when, after years of getting ample funding from the administrations of Mayor Anthony Williams and Mayor Adrian Fenty, it was apparent money would be drying up for Peaceoholics, the anti-gang group he founded, in a Vince Gray administration.
The Washington Post spoke to Moten about a tragic Columbia Heights shooting on Saturday. There were three victims. One of them, Lucki Nancy Pannell, an 18-year-old student at Cardozo High School, later died of her wounds. Moten had worked with Pannell, and told the Post she was a good kid who might have hung out with the wrong people. Moten also seemed to not so subtly suggest a thriving Peaceoholics organization might have helped avoid the bloodshed.
“Moten said he was concerned that a Peaceoholics program that had worked with the three victims is no longer active,” wrote the Post.”‘As soon as the weather breaks and you start having warm days, people come out of the woodwork, and people who have beefs with people, they tend to start heating back up,’ he said”
When City Desk contacted Moten via phone, he was more explicit: “There’s a few homicides that have happened that they [Peaceoholics] could have prevented.”
As one of many D.C. journalists who looked very closely at Moten’s organization, I’ve had a few animated discussions with him about the Peaceoholics. Each time, I’ve brought up the fact that I admire the dedication he and his colleagues have shown. But there seems to be little data on what happened to the money the group previously received, or on how effective their programs were.
Moten says the data is there: “They never want to print it.”
Moten seems to be convinced the flood he predicted will crest when the streets are hottest. “I think after this summer people will appreciate our work more,” he says. I suggest to Moten that if that crisis hits, it’d be helpful to have the data he says no one would print, so we can look back on it and figure out what the Peaceoholics did right. He claims to be willing: “We got it somewhere.”
Whether Moten has the data or not, he does make one salient point over and over: Someone needs to be out there, talking to the youth who are beefing. He says not many others know what goes on in D.C.’s streets, and that the proof of this lies in the fact that after a homicide, reporters still call him for information.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery