Peace And Politics
Anti-violence group pays the price for getting too political.
The youth outreach group Peaceoholics has done some good work over the last few years, but it appears peace and politics just don’t mix these days.
Ron Moten, who founded Peaceoholics, is using the recent shooting spree at the Caribbean Festival as an example of how the group’s efforts have been undone by a lack of city funding. It’s important to remember Moten campaigned hard for Adrian Fenty in last year’s mayoral race. It’s one reason why Peaceoholics is now on its last leg.
At a press conference last week, Moten talked about the deadly shooting at the Caribbean Fest, and how the violence was the result of a long-standing beef between two crews. He said Peaceoholics was able to broker peace some time ago between the Hobart Stars and Clifton Terrace University crews.
Now, Moten alleges that a lack of funding from the Gray administration is causing peace-making efforts on the street to fall apart. By now, Moten has got to realize that his work to reelect Fenty last year completely backfired, and the Gray administration couldn’t care less. Unfortunately for the city, these long-standing beefs between rival crews could be heating up again because of new beefs between Moten and supporters of Vince Gray.
Peaceoholics has also become the subject of an audit, ordered by none other than Council member Yvette Alexander, an ardent supporter of Gray. Alexander requested the audit late last year, due in part because of a donation scandal involving Peaceoholics. At the time, Moten was also campaigning hard for Fenty.
You can’t fault Alexander for requesting an audit. The city and various agencies reportedly gave Peaceoholics some 10 million-dollars to do its work from 2005 through 2009. That’s a lot of dough for a nonprofit that can’t prove its efforts are working to reduce violence, at least not on paper.
So here we are in 2011. Peaceoholics has been dramatically downsized because its funding has been dramatically downsized. Ron Moten has also taken his beef with Yvette Alexander up a notch by saying he’s going to launch a challenge for her Ward 7 Council seat.
If Moten does run, and win, Peaceoholics may be saved. Then again, it’s entirely possible that a Council member Moten will no longer champion the cause. He’ll be too distracted with other city business. He won’t have to work to attract city funds when he’s already making a hefty salary.
So who’s going to champion anti-violence efforts if groups like Peaceoholics are no longer around? Police Chief Cathy Lanier has certainly proved she’s not a softy when it comes to cracking down on gangs, but it’s not exactly the same as brokering peace while maintaining respect in the community.
If you live in DC, you know that violent crime heats up as the summer months heat up. So far, this summer is no different. With the potential demise of a group like Peaceoholics, other city agencies are going to have to step it up, and put politics aside.