April 4th was the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Following his assassination there were 3 days of riots in Washington DC; 200 fires burned simultaneously, smothering the city in smoke. It took 13,600 armed troops to eventually quell the mayhem but by then considerable damage had been done.
I live in one of the riot corridors.
Initially development in the riot corridors stalled as money was directed towards rebuilding "downtown" and then financial crises and corruption scandals enveloped the city and turned investors and developers away. Buildings fell into greater disrepair and people, who could afford to, moved out to the suburbs leading to further economic depression and pretty much ghetto conditions.
But, things are slowly changing. Our corridor is now targeted under the Great Streets Initiative – a City Council initiative for strategic land use, public safety and economic development assistance.
In my 'hood there is sporadic development as new ventures open amongst buildings which show the scars of the riots and 40 years of neglect. Some buildings are still boarded up. Businesses which survived barred their windows. Razor wire is strewn across vulnerable entrances. It can be difficult to tell which shops actually operate behind the bars and shutters.
In those which do, the sales people work from behind armored glass. My bottle shop has all the alcohol behind the sales counter – which is behind a floor-to-ceiling wall of bullet proof glass – and they do not sell any Aussie wine! Our fast food places cook behind armored glass and exchange food for money through secure hatches. My post office does not have anything out to steal – not even the free postal forms!!
There is only one brave bank in more than 10 blocks (a fortified Bank of America). There are no ATM's. There is a preponderance of check cashing stores. This is my 'hood:
This is my grog shop – next door to it is a new School!! Not sure if the Home Improvements store actually opens, but they are not a good advertisement if the front roof is anything to go by. The Hunger Stopper never opens.
My corner stores and the Metro station on the far left: