Darrow Montgomery/FILE

The weekend was one of mixed emotions, to say the least. 

The first Sunday of the football season saw tailgating and excitement from fans despite the Washington Football Team’s loss. City Paper’s Bailey Vogt recently reminded us of the D.C. Deaf community’s role in creating the huddle

The District was also back with another cheery event: the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, which took a two-year pandemic hiatus and roared back on Saturday with nearly 10,000 participants celebrating the delayed “rite of Spring.” 

But the weekend also brought remembrances of 9/11 as well as news of shootings in the District amid alarming levels of violence. 

A Weekend of Remembrance

9/11 was on many folks’ minds as they attended or watched remembrances, or had moments of personal reflection, on Saturday, 20 years after the deadliest terrorist attacks to ever hit U.S. soil. President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former presidents and high-profile visitors took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon before heading to the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and, for some of them, the New York City 9/11 memorial.

These memorials accompanied plenty of local 9/11 in-person and virtual events, including an orchestra concert at the Kennedy Center, remembrance services at the Prince William County’s September 11 Memorial Fountain and various schools across the DMV, and a virtual exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Army dedicated to soldiers impacted by 9/11. On Friday, Ketcham Elementary School in Southeast honored James Debeuneure, a popular fifth-grade teacher who was on the plane that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, with school administrators giving his daughter a memorial plaque. 5K memorial runs also affected traffic on Saturday, as the annual Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC 9/11 Memorial Race led to road closures around the Pentagon and Crystal City. 

The anniversary of 9/11 ended with the FBI’s release of an unsatisfying report for many victims’ families, some of whom have sued the Saudi government for allegedly providing hijackers with logistical support and many of whom had advocated for an investigation into Saudi Arabia’s role in the terrorist attacks: In documents Biden ordered last month to be declassified on this historic date, the agency revealed a lack of conclusive evidence that 9/11 hijackers’ actions were linked to the Saudi government. 

Shootings in Northwest and Prince George’s County

D.C. residents are also remembering tragic events that happened much more recently across the District—as recent as this weekend. The Kennedy Street NW community is hosting a “Stop the Violence” march this Wednesday at 6 p.m. and vigil afterward to remember those who have been killed due to gun violence in a spike this summer that includes five homicides across D.C. these past eight days, including a triple homicide in that Northwest D.C. neighborhood.

The community mourns the death of Delonte Hazel, 31, a Maryland man found shot dead on Friday night in a car off of an alley in the 100 block at Kennedy Street NW. Hazel had gotten out of jail that day, and family lamented the loss of the fresh possibilities his return offered: Two weeks after his birthday, Hazel was going to start a new job and had plans to turn his life around, says his older sister, Erica Eccles.

In Prince George’s County, a man was shot dead and another man and child were shot and injured at a shooting in a Forestville gas station on Saturday night. While little is known about the identity of the victims and circumstances of the shooting, the incident adds to a deadly weekend that has left residents both in and outside impacted neighborhoods rattled

Advocates are calling for more action from the city to curb the rise in violence across the District. City Paper recently reported on Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George’s months-long fight to bring violence prevention initiative Building Blocks D.C. to Kennedy Street NW. The councilmember has pleaded with the administration to be proactive instead of reactive, expanding programs like Building Blocks, which provides grants and other support for social services in the areas it serves, to neighborhoods like ones recently impacted by gun violence in her ward. The administration under Mayor Muriel Bowser maintains that each of the 151 blocks participating in the initiative was chosen based on 2020 crime data. Forty-one percent of gunshot-related crimes last year happened on those blocks—and Kennedy Street NW didn’t make the cut. 

“If you tell me that in order to have resources in our community we need to have even more homicides, [then] there’s something wrong with our approach to public safety in D.C.,” said Lewis George in a public safety roundtable in late July.

Nature Mirroring the News

The strange mix of light, fun events and tragic news and 9/11 remembrances this weekend appeared to also manifest itself in an odd phenomenon in the District: A mysterious green glow in the water at Rock Creek Park elicited calls to DC Fire and EMS from concerned residents on Sunday morning and tweets from folks who described the phenomenon as “like the Hulk was in the area.” Local officials resolved the mystery: The green tint was the result of a dye test on Saturday along Military Road NW, DC Water spokesman John Lisle told News4. The test was part of a project in Chevy Chase that water officials were using to help DC Water learn how flood waters move through the neighborhood, given that several backyards in the area flood during heavy rains. And the Post shed light on another eerie glow, this time in the sky: the appearance of a “wildfire smoke” sun in the District. 

—By Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

By Ambar Castillo and Bailey Vogt (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com and bvogt@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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