Last night, ANC Commissioner Kathy Henderson complained publicly on the local MPD listserv about a charity food giveaway taking place in our neighborhood. According to her allegations, police coordinated the event, which allegedly resulted in people streaming in from Maryland and diverting through traffic to stash ”boxes of free food” into their cars. She also claimed that the “chaotic” event diverted police resources, resulting in the theft of several items from a local community center. Henderson’s email, along with cops’ response, is below:
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 17:28:25
To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>
Subject: Chaotic Central Union Mission Event
I received several phone calls from neighbors complaining about an apparent food giveaway on 17th Street and Maryland Ave. I understand MPD is helping to coordinate this event. People in vehicles with Maryland tags and people shopping at Safeway are running across the street to load boxes of free food into cars.
Who is responsible for this chaotic event? One of my neighbors complained that someone robbed the Patsy Hartsfield Center of a flat screen television, computer and other property. He wanted to know why officers are being diverted from patrolling our community to coordinate this event. Who identified this community for this activity? It appears the event is not focused to serve people that actually reside in the ANC 5D community.
Is Central Union Mission randomly selecting communities for food giveaways? We need more police presence in the 19th Street and Benning Road area, the 800 block of 18th Street and at the Starburst Plaza that has been commandeered by aggressive persons that appear to be on drugs. We appreciate the work our officers do to make this community safe; we do not want any additional seemingly chaotic events that drain our police resources. I appreciate and look forward to a response regarding this matter.
Commissioner Kathy Henderson, 5D05
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®
Police Commander Solberg of the fifth district responded that he wasn’t aware of any nexus to MPD:
I have no knowledge of this event, and as far as I am aware it has no connection to MPD, but we’ll check.
Shortly thereafter, a police lieutenant also reassured residents that cops were only present due to the large number of people gathered, did not sponsor the event, and were not diverted from policing duties:
I do not know who was actually coordinating this event, however, PSA 507 members were merely giving special attention because of the amount of people responding. The special attention did not interfere with their normal patrols because that is an area we frequently patrol on a regular basis.
Bryant A. Jeter
As a note, a previous reader question asked about a man selling what appeared to be bags of free-food-giveaway items in a local parking lot. The Central Union Mission has provided similar food giveaways in past years, but no word yet on whether this event is related to them.