Category Archives: Journalism

Opportunity for Deanwood Venture…

…and One Dallas Fan

photo and story by Virginia Avniel Spatz

Kevin Brown is the third family member to run the Dave Brown Wine & Liquors, launched by his father, Dave, in 1964. For decades Kevin worked alongside his father, Dave, and brother, David “Jim” Brown. But Dave Brown died in 1998 and Jim in 2004. A third brother, Andre, has a separate career and does not work in the store. Now, Kevin says, “after 43 years, seven days a week, I’m done.”

“The place looks like a ghost town now,” Deanwood resident Yvonne Johnson says. “But those few bottles left on the shelves don’t tell the whole story.”

Johnson and other neighbors want to ensure that the Brown family legacy is not lost when the property is transferred to a new owner. And many in the area are watching closely to see what turnover of businesses like Dave Brown Liquors will mean for the community.

croppedkbMeanwhile, long-time community member Kevin Brown continues to greet customers amid reduced stock – including that one Dallas hat – at 4721 Sheriff Road NE. The property includes residential quarters, is zoned for mixed-use commercial development, and can convey with a Class A Liquor License. Learn more in the January issue of East of the River.

Community Backbone

“This is a healing model for us as a community,” said April Goggans, looking out on a candle-lit circle of community members outside Marbury Plaza on November 1. The vigil marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Alonzo (Zo) Fiero Smith, age 27, who died following an encounter with special police officers (SPOs) at the apartment complex, 2300 Good Hope Road….” Read the rest in attached PDF EOTR 11/16— html version coming soon) or on-line at Capital Community News

This article is the latest in a series on private policing and #Justice4Zo. Few additional photos here.

Private Security with Badge (and Gun)

My series on policing, with a focus on special (private) police and communities of color, is appearing in East of the River, a Capital Community Newspaper.

Across the US, many individuals with badges, often armed, are accountable to no one except their private employer. Accountability and regulation of private security was found wanting in a report produced for the US Department of Justice in 1971:

Licensing and regulation of private security businesses and employees is, at best, minimal and inconsistent, and, at worst, completely absent. Sanctions are rarely invoked. Moreover current tort, criminal, and constitutional law has not been adequate — substantively or procedurally — to control certain problem areas involving private security activities, such as arrests, use of firearms, and investigations. Finally, current law has not provided adequate remedy for persons injured by actions of private security personnel.
— “Private Police Findings and Recommendations,”
Rand Corporation for the US DOJ, 1971. p. viii (full report link below)

The biggest change in 45 years has been the size of the security industry: estimated at 400,000 in 1971 and closer to two million now.

East of the River Policing Series:

Private “Special Police” in DC: Community Comments from Recruitment to Accountability’ September 2016 EOTR

Policing East of the River: Call for Community Comment’ in August 2016 EOTR

What Happened to Zo? Frustrated Family, Supporters Fear Cover-Up in April 2016 EOTR

#Justice4Zo (Alonzo Smith) vigil, December 2015

See also:

From Frozen to Bloom (Spatz) in February EOTR

Anyone living and/or working east of the river in DC is encouraged to share thoughts and stories on policing as further articles are developed.

A few more sources

In other local papers:

Unanswered Questions Linger (Sam P.K. Collins) in April Washington Informer

“Private Police…Ranks Are Swelling” in the Washington Post (2015)


Privatization and Policing of Black Colonies

The Case of Alonzo Smith

Rand/US DOJ Reports

In 1971, the Rand Corporation produced extensive studies for the U.S. Department of Justice on the private policing. Each volume is available as free, downloadable PDF:

Private Police Industry: Nature and Extent

Private Police Findings and Recommendations

Law and Private Police

Current Regulation of Private Police

Special-Purpose Public Police


News, Views, and Pews

Virginia Spatz has reported — regularly in some years, less often in others — in Capital Community Newspapers, including the Hill Rag, Mid-City (DC North), and East of the River for 25 years. She regularly reported the monthly news for East of the River for five years. Her work has also appeared — regularly in some years, less often in others — in the Hill Rag and Mid-City (or DC North). Visit Capital Community News.

Intersection of Minnesota & Benning, before DOES and Donatelli (Park 7) development. (photo 2010)

Virginia Spatz kept Ward 7 Connections blog as a related resource for East of the River news. (At the time there were several active Ward 8 blogs.) The blog remains with what is now historical material, including for a few unrecognizable views of, e.g., pre-Donatelli Minnesota and Benning.

See also “Jew in the Pew” a monthly series on worship communities East of DC’s Anacostia River and “Spiritual Life on Capitol Hill,” which appears in the 2016 Fagon Guide.