Tents under at a homeless encampment under a bridge in NoMa
Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Four D.C. councilmembers are pressuring Mayor Muriel Bowser to temporarily pause clearing homeless encampments. In a letter to her office, Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), Janeese Lewis George (Ward 4), Elissa Silverman (At-Large), and Robert White (At-Large) (who is running for mayor) requested on Friday that Bowser freeze the clearings as the weather turns cold. Nadeau, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Human Services, told DCist that removing homeless encampments could remove the support network needed to get through the winter.

“A tent can often mean the difference between staying alive and not staying alive in the hypothermia months,” Nadeau said. “The encampments themselves create a sense of community and a place where people are supporting each other and looking after each other.”

The letter says resources should be focused on getting D.C.’s unhoused residents into homes at least until hypothermia season is over on March 31. Bowser’s office has engaged in an aggressive campaign to remove large encampments throughout D.C. Two of the largest encampments—on L and M streets NE in NoMa—were cleared in October. On L Street NE, a bulldozer picked up a tent with a man still inside. Three more encampments—one in Truxton Circle and two in Foggy Bottom—are scheduled for clearing.

Bowser’s office told DCist the goal of the program is to work with homeless Washingtonians to find them permanent housing. Advocates argue that can be done without first clearing encampments and establishing no-tent zones.

Here are some other stories for your afternoon:

Homicides in 2021 soar past 200, solutions unclear

A man was shot and killed Sunday in Southeast—adding another tick mark to the District’s already deadly year of gun-related deaths. D.C. police statistics say 204 people have been killed in 2021 as of Monday. The city has already surpassed the 198 homicides in 2020. This is the first time D.C. surpassed 200 homicides since 2003. 

A litany of D.C. leaders have a litany of reasons for this uptick. D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee is advocating for reforms to how D.C. handles gun violence arrests. The police union says changes instituted after last year’s racial justice protests are to blame, according to the Washington Post. Activists have continued to push for a focus on bringing down crime by addressing poverty and inequality over more policing.

Dave Chappelle gets mixed reception at alma mater

Comedian Dave Chappelle made a surprise appearance at his alma mater—Duke Ellington School of the Arts—last Tuesday. Politico reported the self-proclaimed “G.O.A.T.” was met with both cheers and boos from the student audience, who had to lock their phones in special pouches to prevent recording. Chappelle is still embroiled in criticism after his latest Netflix special, The Closer, received blowback for jokes many saw as transphobic.

During the Q&A, students called him a “bigot,” “childish,” and said that his “comedy kills.” Chappelle didn’t apologize, and instead told students: “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.”

The school previously postponed the renaming of its theatre in Chappelle’s honor after pushback from his Netflix special.

Rough landing for bongs

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced Wednesday that it confiscated a shipment of almost 4,000 bongs at Dulles International Airport. Listed as gravity pipes, CPB estimated the value of the shipment from China and bound for Los Angeles at $56,000. CPB believes the shipment violates U.S. law regarding importation of drug paraphernalia.

Bailey Vogt (tips? bvogt@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Travelers return to D.C. amid concerns over the newest COVID-19 variant, Omicron. [NBC4]
  • Local businesses start preparing for the worst with officials on Omicron alert. [Post]
  • Two adults and one child were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes yesterday afternoon. [WTOP]

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

  • Wealthy NIMBYs are pissed about an elite private school’s proposed athletic fields. [Post]
  • ICYMI: Neil Albert was put on leave from the Downtown BID as an investigation into contracting conflicts shakes out. [WBJ, Twitter]

By Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Dolce Vita opens on 14th Street NW in the former Ghibellina space. [Washingtonian]
  • A guide for eating and drinking in Petworth. [Eater DC]
  • Food critic Tim Carman reviews downtown Filipino restaurant PogiBoy. [Post]

By Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Josh Axelrod

City Lights: Tour the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

After a decade, D.C. finally has a flagship library branch befitting its bookish residents […]

  • Climate change’s latest target: the Smithsonian museums along the Mall. [NYT]
  • GALA Film Fest: Latin American Innovation starts on Dec. 1, plan your watching. [Twitter]

By Sarah Marloff (tips? smarloff@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play in the Masters, has died at age 87. Elder was a longtime D.C. resident when he played on the PGA Tour. [CNN]
  • City Paper contributor Kelaine Conochan reflects on her experience running the grueling Badwater 135-mile ultramarathon this summer. [ESPN]
  • The Washington Football Team is aiming for its third straight win tonight in a matchup against the Seahawks. [Hogs Haven]
  • After beating the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, yesterday, the Capitals now stand atop the Metropolitan Division. [Stars and Sticks]

By Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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