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Ron Moten says trouble is coming. “A lot of the our money has been cut,” says the outspoken co-founder of the anti-gang group Peaceoholics. Moten says the cuts bode badly for the District: “We get results. Whenever something happens, who are you going to call?”
It’s a prediction he’s made before. To hear Moten describe it, in the last few years, the Peaceoholics have operated sort of like the CIA, working in the shadows to combat dangers average citizens will never know about. In a given day, he says, the ex-offenders field 30 to 40 phone calls from people asking for their help. A number of those calls concern gang conflicts that might quickly erupt into violence without the expertise and intervention of his organization, he claims.
For an example of what Moten says will be emerging in the wake of a severely underfunded Peaceoholics (an ousted Mayor Adrian Fenty is thought to have orchestrated much of their funding), the co-founder believes you can look to the demise of John “Baby J” Foreman.
Foreman, who one police source refers to as having been a “Peaceoholic poster boy,” was recently convicted of murder. Cops said Foreman shot and killed Arthur “Geezy” Gale on Oct. 17, 2008, in the Bruce-Monroe School playground in Columbia Heights, because he believed the victim was “snitching” on his brother, Maurice Foreman, who was facing an attempted murder charge.
The Peaceoholics worked extensively with Foreman. “We worked with that whole family,” Moten says. Foreman was on the right path. At one point, he was helping to “squash beefs” among rival gang members. But then funding was cut to a program the Peaceoholics had established at Bruce-Monroe. “As soon as we stopped the program, Baby J. got into trouble,” Moten claims. He says the murder Foreman was convicted of occurred only a few months after the group left Park View.
That was back when the organization still had a plenty of cash. Now that the non-profit is really suffering, things will get worse. “Almost every homicide in the last three months are people we worked with where programs were stopped,” says Moten. (Washington City Paper couldn’t independently verify that claim.)
Of course, there is one way Moten sees for the District to avoid the impending crime-ageddon: Send more funds to Peaceoholics. And even though he and presumptive mayor-elect Vincent Gray have had words, Moten thinks the politician could help. “I don’t necessarily have to like someone to work with him.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery