After a month marked by protest, unrest and political turnover in Washington, D.C., the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E is responding to residential concerns and fears about the possibility of increased danger in the District.
In the weeks surrounding the election and Inauguration Day, many businesses downtown and in the Georgetown community boarded up their windows, while law enforcement and the national guard filled the streets. At a Feb. 1 meeting, the first since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol building, ANC 2E, which represents Georgetown and surrounding neighborhoods, heard from law enforcement officials on the state of security in Georgetown, surrounding neighborhoods and D.C. as a whole.
The fallout stemming from the insurrection and smaller protests leading up to it in the months since the election have contributed to increased residents’ anxieties about safety in D.C. neighborhoods, according to Commissioner Kishan Putta.
“Those first few Trump rallies were not that big, but then we got hit with the big one. And there were definitely protesters from that rally around in the neighborhood. There was no violence thankfully, but it has all served to create this climate of hesitancy and a little bit of fear,” Putta said in a phone interview with The Hoya.
At the meeting, which was held virtually, commissioners and residents heard Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Klein speak about the legal progress in the Capitol riot investigations. Klein noted that 177 individuals had been arrested, with 120 cases in federal district court, and more than 50 cases in the superior court of D.C.
With most political activity concentrated in downtown D.C., there are no immediate threats posed to Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale, the neighborhoods represented by ANC 2E, according to Commissioner Matias Burdman (COL ’21). (Full disclosure: Burdman previously served on the Editorial Board of The Hoya.)
“In the period leading up to and immediately following the inauguration, the ANC coordinated with MPD to ensure that proper security precautions had been taken in our neighborhood,” Burdman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In our latest ANC meeting, however, MPD did not make any indication that there is still a heightened threat of political instability or violence — in fact, in that sense things seem to mostly be returning to normal.”
Aside from the political unrest following the election, the ANC discussed reports of vandalism and hate speech that surfaced in the neighborhood last year. In May 2020, antisemitic graffiti was discovered on the grounds of Hardy Middle School in Burleith, leading to condemnation from neighborhood officials and residents.
Despite a 29% decrease in overall crime compared to last year, the neighborhoods have seen a spike in robberies and carjackings, including two armed robberies and two armed carjackings in January, according to Assistant District Commander Brian Bray, who also spoke at the meeting.
Emptier streets may be contributing to this uptick in crime, according to Putta.
“It has created an atmosphere of some fear,” Putta said. “With less people walking around, it makes a situation where crimes can, a criminal might find it an opportune time because there are less people out there watching.”
Although tensions in D.C. have seemingly calmed after the insurrection, the city should stay alert, according to Putta.
“I think that is now subsiding just with time and no recent major issue and with the new administration trying to take control,” Putta said. “Our city is still dealing with it, with all the fences around the Capitol as a reminder to the rest of the city. I think that fear remains, although it’s a little bit less. But we do need to stay diligent.”