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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.

susie July 05, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Peaceoholics was not the first nor will it be the last organization doing outreach and engagement with gangs and crews. In fact, the Gang Intervention Partnership, organized and managed by Columbia Heights/Shaw Family Support Collaborative, is the city's only proven effective gang intervention program. GIP predates Peaceoholics and other organizational gang work. What will be missed this summer is a citywide coordinated youth and gang/crew prevention and intervention initiative -- such as it was citywide and coordinated -- involving a number of nonprofits across the city, a few with experience and serious street cred. The question I am asking--and I think Georgetown Patch should be asking--is what happens when there is no financial or programming commitment to youth and gang/crew violence prevention and intervention. I will be addressing this and other issues (hopefully) this week in an issue brief. Check the blog for this and other important budget and policy issues: http://susiecambria.blogspot.com.
Rose Lee July 06, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Cease Fire Don't Smoke the Brothers is also another group that has been around pre-Peaceaholics with a track record of working with violent gangs. Peaceaholics never has been the only show in town. rosalee202@yahoo.com
Chgobluesguy July 06, 2011 at 07:01 PM
It's disappointing that so many non-profits -- both effective and not-so-effective ones -- depend for so much of their funding on direct grants from the D.C. government. Right now, the Counsel is having trouble holding itself accountable to the voter; how can it effectively hold disparate non-profits accountable? Let's let foundations and private donors be the ones to decide who is providing a good return on investment.
susie July 07, 2011 at 12:24 PM
That's a terrific idea about having foundations and donors hold nonprofits accountable. The problem is they can't or won't, I'm not sure which. Any thoughts on how this can happen?
DC July 07, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Before you write an opinion-slanted "article," know your subject. Peaceaholics was a joke. The "organization" thrived on dubious anecdotal "evidence" of "successes" to make money. It violated many accounting standards and laws -- hardly excusable for the money be thrown its way -- and violated the most important law regarding its nonprofit status: the no political campaigning stipulation. At all levels of the Fenty administration there were many people who felt strongly that Moten's group was a disaster shoved down their throats by an impetuous and egotistical mayor ... at the expense (literally) of actually effective outreach organizations. Having had an inside view to all of this -- and not having any predilections for Fenty or for Gray -- I saw no evidence that Peaceaholics had any significant impacts. Any positive impacts it can claim (slight at best) would have been much more significant had more legitimate, intelligent and altruistic people/orgs been doing the work. Ask an unbiased and knowledgeable observer and you will learn that Peaceaholics was a waste of resources and opportunities at best and smelled like a scam at worst. And at the end of the day, it thrived on the fact that it is virtually impossible to determine whether crimes that were not committed one year but were committed the next had ANYTHING to do with the activities of Peaceaholics. That doubt enabled Moten to thrive for a short while ... thankfully not indefinitely.
Doug Parrish July 11, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Thanks, DC, for your comment and insight on Peaceoholics' performance through the years. Please also note, for future reference, my pieces that run on Sundays are not news articles. They're clearly labeled as opinion/editorial. Thanks for all of the comments everyone!
susie July 11, 2011 at 03:09 PM
Since I previously mentioned the brief I was doing on youth and gang/crew violence prevention and intervention, wanted to share the document if anyone is interested in reading it. The blog post today: Getting serious about youth and gang/crew violence I assert we know how to prevent and effectively intervene in youth and gang/crew violence in the District of Columbia. Yet it seems the preferred responses to the violence are hand wringing, wailing and vigil holding. If any of these worked, they would have worked long ago to stop the violence. My new analysis "Getting serious about youth and gang/crew violence" (PDF) presents what practice and research show have to happen to prevent and successfully intervene in youth and gang/crew violence. The outstanding question really is whether residents, stakeholders and elected officials has what it takes to stop the violence. (http://susiecambria.blogspot.com/2011/07/getting-serious-about-youth-and.html)

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