The 'Murder Capitol' where they murdered for capital was of American design

I was eight years old years old when I first saw a gun. A neighborhood jerk we’ll call Payphone had Ray backed out for something way...


I was eight years old years old when I first saw a gun.

A neighborhood jerk we’ll call Payphone had Ray backed out for something way beyond my age. It was 1984, when drugs were plentiful and Washington, D.C. had no drug task force, and fresh money meant urban opulence like Jettas with BBS rims, phones cinder-block size wearables and FILA tracksuits in soft fabric.

Ray was a local boxer who did more training than actual boxing. He wore gray tracksuits whenever he ran around the neighborhood. He shadowboxed the air. He jumped rope outside the corner store on First and Bryant, where I was the day I saw the gun.

Payphone held up an MCM tote bag and told Ray to come down the aisle. He gave the impression that he wanted to fight. Ray shouted back. It was then that Payphone took the gun out of its pouch.

What shocks me the most about that day, thinking back on it, is that I didn’t run. I wasn’t even nervous. At eight years old, it was already anchored in me that this was the way.

I was 12 when I held my first revolver. My neighbor upstairs worried after an altercation with a group of girls that she was going to blow herself up. She got a gun from her boyfriend, a silver .22 that she left with me because she didn’t want her parents to find it.

I was 14 when I fired my first gun. It was in the woods near my house. I was drunk. It could have ended badly.

I was 15 when people dubbed my home the “Murder Capitol” after a particularly brutal and violent end to 1991. It was the same year I learned never to touch a gun or, if I did, to clean up fingerprints. I also knew that if the price was really low, it was probably used in a shoot and the seller was just trying to get rid of it quickly.

I was 16 when the first child I knew was killed. It wouldn’t be the last.

I was 18 when my friends and I opened the hood of the car and hid the guns near the engine before getting into the go-go, because everyone knew that leaving guns in the car meant someone one would break your windows to steal them.

This was despite the fact that DC, which still has some of the weirdest gun laws in the country, didn’t have a gun store, shooting range or legal place to hunt in the town. Still, there were guns all around.

It was the byproduct of a crack war that hooked an entire town. It was also the byproduct of scarcity, devastation, epidemic, and even slavery. Yes, slavery. Although none of us would admit it, all the risks we took – all the chances that could have led to death or prison – were simply having access to things we couldn’t afford. .

Top left: A lone sentry sits on guard with his rifle against the storefront where, days earlier, it was Negro sales as usual, Atlanta, Georgia.  Sherman's occupation of Atlanta put an end to the vigorous activity of slave auctions.  Top Right: A poster advertising a slave sale, it is owned by a man named George W Gwin who is listed as Chief Commissioner, James Harlen was the previous owner and the sale is taking place to settle a dispute over 'equity between the administrator of his Estate and his heirs, three men, two women and three children are offered for sale in total, six months' credit terms with interest are offered on the purchase of slaves, Frankfort, Kentucky, 1863. From the New York Public Library.  Bottom left: The slave compound and auction house in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1863. Bottom right: Plantation slaves gathered outside their huts, Virginia circa 1860.
Top left: A lone sentry sits on guard with his rifle against the storefront where, days earlier, it was Negro sales as usual, Atlanta, Georgia. Sherman’s occupation of Atlanta put an end to the vigorous activity of slave auctions. Top Right: A poster advertising a slave sale, it is owned by a man named George W Gwin who is listed as Chief Commissioner, James Harlen was the previous owner and the sale is taking place to settle a dispute over ‘equity between the administrator of his Estate and his heirs, three men, two women and three children are offered for sale in total, six months’ credit terms with interest are offered on the purchase of slaves, Frankfort, Kentucky, 1863. From the New York Public Library. Bottom left: The slave compound and auction house in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1863. Bottom right: Plantation slaves gathered outside their huts, Virginia circa 1860.

We have learned from the “best”. After all, what part of America’s history is getting things done on blood credit debt that you never expected to pay?

European settlers came to the so-called “New World” in search of gold. Instead, they found land and people – land they wanted and people they were willing to enslave, kill or displace to get that land. And then because tending and building and extracting wealth from American soil is hard work, they forced Africans to come to the United States to work for free under 400 years of slavery and build this country for what it is today.

The United States has become what President Ronald Reagan once called “this shining city on a hill”―AKA the richest country in the world where you have the option to get rich or literally die trying, sometimes through violence.

We can talk about what is due to indigenous peoples or the descendants of those who were enslaved, but nobody pays. Because in America, the end justifies the means, even if the means are “I don’t have something, so I’m willing to kill and/or destroy lives to get it.” This is why we celebrate genocidal maniacs, slave owners and sociopaths – because for those who benefited from their violence, they did the work.

“In America, the end justifies the means, even if the means are, ‘I don’t have something, so I’m willing to kill and/or destroy lives to get it.'”

Some do it out of greed. Others do it for sport. Where I grew up, however, it was all about need. About wanting. About the lack.

It creeps up on you out of nowhere. Lack has a smell and taste that sits in the back of your throat just to remind you how much you don’t have. It shrinks your clothes to the point of embarrassment. It naps your hair. It scrambles your sneakers. Lack is a backbreaker and a destroyer of good men. Lack is a master of morals and a creator of burdens, for wherever there is a lack, there is violence.

We did not create the violence we lived in, we inherited it, as spanking or one passive god. I didn’t grow up in the drug-fuelled, war-torn 1980s by chance; The city was already an unattended cooking pot on a gas stove. It wasn’t black-against-black violence (which we already know is a myth), it was white inherited violence.

In 1980, more than 29 million people―13% of the population―lived below the poverty line, according to the US census.

Crack hit DC around 1984, the same year I saw Payphone in the driveway with the gun, the same year I quit drinking Little Hugs fruit barrel sugar waters and started drinking Martinelli apple juice in a brown paper bag because it looked like beer. The same year the poverty line rose to around $10,609, or in drug jargon, about $6,000 short of a kilo of cocaine. (Assuming you have a South Florida connection.)

The violence that followed would be some of the most horrific violence a city has ever seen.

But in the context of American violence, it was the natural order.

DC police detectives investigate the murder of a young black man, one of a record 482 gun victims in 1991.
DC police detectives investigate the murder of a young black man, one of a record 482 gun victims in 1991.

Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Violence comes from having things. It always has been. And sometimes violence leads to having things. The First World War made theAmerican dollars [stronger] among the currencies of the world.” World War II spearheaded the American tax system. The war in Iraq, we all know, was about oil.

America’s bloody history is full of violence.

It is the violence that violence creates, envelops and then dispatches. It is the same violence that built America. This is what happens when those in power want nice things, but no longer have free jobs. And in DC, we were what happens when those who have nothing also want nice things.

The systemic structure of downtown is such that those who get by are the exception, not the rule. In fact, you want to know how to make a criminal? Here’s how: raise a child in poverty, send that child to school in their neighborhood, which is already overcrowded and underfunded. Grade teachers on class control, not student performance. Leave that child on his porch, where he can see things–shining things, things bigger than the things he owns. Watch him play “That’s My Car!” when a dope whips passes. Let him stew in the lack stew long enough and watch him get up to jump off the porch.

It is no coincidence that in 2019 young black men are only 15% of all young people in the United States and some 41% of young people in the system.

Because all the stories are wrong, which all the stories written about the “Murder Capitol” miss. is this abundance of lack. They don’t speak to the history of American violence that DC, and every city like it, reflects to this day.

Gangs are fighting for land that doesn’t belong to them, because it’s a claim to things. America was built on a turf war. American museums are filled with stolen goods.

America is nothing if not violent, and the violence wrought in black communities is a microcosm of all the years of violence inflicted on their ancestors. It was the slaves who, once freed, owned slaves themselves. It’s the learned behavior of violence passed down like a recipe written on barely visible parchment paper, but the maker can still bring out all the flavors of those who’ve made it before him.

It is the memory of violence, the repetition of violence, the practice of violence that makes the act of violence as normal as America itself.

In fact, it’s the American way.



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Newsrust - US Top News: The 'Murder Capitol' where they murdered for capital was of American design
The 'Murder Capitol' where they murdered for capital was of American design
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