Monday, June 21, 2010

A World Class Riot

At the Mayoral Forum in Ward 3 on June 11, Mayor Adrian Fenty called New Beginnings, the city's youth detention center a "world class facility."  Last night, WUSA-9 reported a "riot situation" in which the juveniles refused to enter their bedrooms and fought with staff.  A shift supervisor who responded had his nose broken.  MPD arrived to find the youths wandering through the facility at will while others were on the roof.  The good news.... apparently no one escaped this time.  According to the report:
Union officials say the facility meant to house 60 youngsters between the ages of 15-20 currently holds 70 and staffers are unable to safely supervise their charges, especially because of the more open nature of the structure's design. "It's been open season on staffers, they are being continually assaulted by the and this needs to come to a stop" concluded williams. "The juveniles need to be taught a lesson, they continually assault our officers , that's been the status quo"
In somewhat related news, the Washington Post includes a report today on the Peacoholics and the millions of dollars it has received during the Fenty Administration.  There's not much new in this article, but it does document that the group received at least $1.5 million in noncompetitively bid city contracts in 2008 and $5.1 million in taxpayer funds from a variety of sources in 2009 (including $4.4 million to build a group home in Congress Heights).  Those figures apparently do not include $3.6 million ($1.5 in 2009) in contracts from the Youth Investment Trust Corp., which is largely funded with city money distributed by a board appointed by the mayor, or $500,000 from the Justice Grants Administration, another quasi-city agency, awarded in October 2009 for the organization to help run prisoner reentry programs.  The article questions whether by taking a very active role in supporting Fenty and opposing Gray, Peacoholics may jeopardize its 501(c)(3) status.  I've discussed my concerns with Peacoholics before and had a chance to discuss them in person with co-founder Ron Moten one month ago.  Both Peacoholics and Chairman Gray are scheduled to appear at the next Convention Center Community Association meeting on June 29.  If past meetings with Peacoholics are prologue, expect fireworks.


Brian said...

I just read this. I thought Gray was against moten and those horrific P'holics? in that last link it mentions that Gray will be giving reasons why they need more money... I'M CONFUSED

Cary Silverman said...

Well, a DYRS spokesperson says that the title of this post, characterizing this incident as a "riot" is inaccurate:

Really? He doesn't dispute the facts. About a dozen youths refused to return to their cells, a guard had his jaw broken, his keys were taken and used to open the other cells, youths were roaming the overcrowded facility and roofs, several other guards were injured, and then Anne Arundel County and Maryland State Police arrived followed by more than 50 DC police officers, including its SWAT team and chief of police.

Minor disturbance?

Brian said...

Mr. Silverman, in your blog, you mentioned that you had a conversation with Ron Moten yourself. What was the topic and what did you learn? I live on Congress Street, one block from this proposed facility and have been hounding hte council to hold a hearing to get some facts on these group home contractors and thier lack of transparency and accountability.

Cary Silverman said...


I spoke with Mr. Moten about some of the comments that he made in the meeting and which I've heard him state before. First, I felt it was unfair for him on the one hand to suggest that information spread about the group is false, then, on the other hand, take offense when people ask him legitimate questions, essentially suggesting that they have it out for his group. The only way to correct misinformation, is to respond to questions.

The other issue we discussed is his statement that those asking questions have not done anything for the community -- that they do not "get their hands dirty." In my opinion, anyone who spends hours of time at community meetings late at night rather than with their families, relaxing, or eating dinner certainly is committed to the community and many of them do too many things to count for the community. We seemed to ultimately agree that everyone has a place in making the community a better place and that we can work together in our respective areas of involvement.

I also spoke with the Executive Director of the group, who confirmed for me at about 95% of Peacoholics funding comes from government grants, with just a tiny portion coming from a single foundation grant.