Sep 27, 2021

Axios D.C.

โ˜€๏ธ Happy Monday!

  • Today's weather: Don't break out the fall boots just yet. We'll see a high of 81 and plenty of sun.

A weekend time warp: The HBO miniseries "The White House Plumbers," which tells the story of the masterminds behind the Watergate scandal, brought the 1970s to downtown yesterday.

  • CNN's Jeff Zeleny snapped this picture of a very convincing Nixon campaign HQ where there's usually a Peet's Coffee.

Today's newsletter is 849 words โ€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Gun violence hits home

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Angela Washington was the last line of defense for residents besieged by gun violence at the Oak Hill Apartments in Southeast. Then, on the evening of Sept. 21, the 41-year-old special police officer was shot to death.

Why it matters: The District's spike in gun violence is being linked partly to rundown properties that city officials and residents say have become magnets for criminal activity, Cuneyt reports.

  • Residents tie Washington's killing to long-standing squalid and dangerous conditions at the apartment complex.
  • Before Washington's death, residents at Oak Hill complained to their landlord about doors that didn't lock, backed-up sewage, rotting walls, and strangers in vacant units.

Zoom out: Washington's killing was the 19th homicide to take place around the Congress Heights neighborhood over the past two years, according to police data.

  • Across D.C.'s neighborhoods most plagued by gun violence, properties allegedly mismanaged by landlords are driving violence, the attorney general's office told Axios.
  • Homicides are currently up 11% from 2020, which saw a 16-year high in killings.

What they're saying: "Almost always when there is drug or firearm-related activity, there is also unkept property," Jennifer Berger, head of the social justice division in Attorney General Karl Racine's office, told Axios.

  • "It usually goes hand-in-hand with overgrown shrubs, trash that is not being picked up, doors that are not being secured [and] inadequate lighting."

Oak Hill resident Cecelia Ginyard, 64, said that the property has become more violent as conditions worsened and vacant units went unlocked.

  • When she moved in 18 years ago, "the kids were able to play out here without being chased down with bullets," Ginyard told Axios in the courtyard of the complex.

Another resident, Roshawn Petway, has battled a collapsing ceiling and mice, and is fearful of the violence that surrounds her home with four children, the youngest aged 7.

  • "It took an officer to get killed on the property for the police department and the chief to come over here," Petway told Axios.

State of play: Racineโ€™s office has taken several landlords to court over dozens of properties plagued by violence.

  • Some settlements led to repairs and the hiring of special police officers such as Washington, who can carry guns and make arrests.

Oak Hill has been on Racine's radar. It was previously owned by notorious landlord Sanford Capital, which in 2018 settled lawsuits over its properties by selling off its housing units in the city.

  • The weekend after Washington's killing, residents blamed Sanford and subsequent property managers for the violence.

What's next: Residents said they want the 107-unit complex's perimeter to be secured with a fence and locked gate, which new property manager Noble Realty hasn't yet built.

  • Axios emailed Noble Realty and another recent property management company, UIP, but did not receive responses.
2. Chart du jour: D.C.'s homicide stats
Expand chart
Metropolitan Police Department; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Homicides are currently on track to increase for a fourth-straight year.

  • Police data shows killings are up 11% from the same point in time last year.

The big picture: It's a trend taking place in cities across the country, though at a lesser rate than 2020's record spike, as Axios' Ivana Saric reported.

3. Around the Beltway: COVID interruptions

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿƒ The annual Marine Corps Marathon has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to "security and safety precautions."

  • There are options to run the marathon virtually.

๐Ÿฆ Three of the lions with COVID-19 at the National Zoo were put under anesthesia for treatment due to loss of appetite, abnormal breathing, and dehydration.

  • The other sick big cats โ€” three other lions and two tigers โ€” are improving, according to the zoo's latest update.

๐Ÿšจ The D.C. police officer who pursued Karon Hylton-Brown, a young man who died after being hit by a car during a pursuit in October 2020, has been charged with murder, the Washington Post reports.

4. ๐Ÿ’‰ D.C. gets a boost

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Eligible D.C. residents are encouraged to schedule their COVID-19 vaccination boosters, says Mayor Muriel Bowser.

  • The CDC recommends the Pfizer COVID-19 shot six months after the first Pfizer dose for individuals 65+, some with underlying health conditions, and some in high-risk job environments.

How it works: To get a booster, call your health care provider or visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccine location.

  • Have your vaccination card nearby โ€” or visit myir.dc.gov for a digital copy.
  • Residents who need support can call 855-363-0333.
5. ๐Ÿฆ“ The zebras are still on the run

Photo: Andrew Wasike Shimanyula for Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The group of zebras that escaped from Bellefields Farm in Croom, Maryland, over three weeks ago still haven't been caught.

State of play: They've since been spotted around Prince Georgeโ€™s County, but have evaded attempts by local authorities to catch them.

  • PG County's Department of the Environment tells Axios it's set up corral stations around the county with feed, in an effort to draw the zebras in.
  • The animals are incredibly fast, strong, and suspicious, Fox 5 reports, which is why they're so hard to catch. (And also why you shouldn't approach them. Contact PG County Animal Control instead.)
  • Their journey around rural Maryland has captivated local media and even inspired art.

Paige's thought bubble: This story immediately took my brain to Netflix's "Tiger King."

  • So if you were also wondering, yes, you can legally own zebras in Maryland.

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