Who killed Taleshia Ford? The 17-year-old girl had been go-go dancing at Club 1919 on U Street in northwest D.C. It was 2 a.m. Saturday morning. A woman who'd been ejected from the club earlier for allegedly smoking marijuana convinced an angry male friend to confront the bouncer. He had a gun, which discharged in the struggle. The bullet struck and killed Ford.
Most people would say that the person who brought the gun and started the conflict bore responsibility for Ford's death, but the D.C. government and the Washington Post had a more creative interpretation.
The next day, the Post reported that the shooting "set off a rapid response from city officials." Police closed the club temporarily. Mayor Adrian Fenty met with the Ford family and "called for more aggressive policing of underage clubs." He also said in no uncertain terms that Club 1919 "will be shut down." Dee Hunter, chair of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said, "We have a bright line rule for the U Street Corridor. If someone is shot in your club, you're going to be closed down."
The Post story detailed some relatively trifling infractions that the club has been charged with in the past and added to the pile on. There was the Broader Trend angle: Ford's death was said to mark "the fourth killing associated with dance clubs in the U Street area in less than thee years," though the first and only one at Club 1919. The Lax Enforcement angle: Two unidentified youths told the Post that is was "relatively easy to find a clubgoer of legal age to buy a drink for minors." The False Pretense angle: The owner had applied for a liquor license for the restaurant catering to "African diplomats" and then expanded it into a nightclub.
As the next week unfolded, things looked worse and worse for the club and for minors who like to go-go dance. Acting police chief Cathy Lanier wrote a letter to the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration warning that the community faced "imminent danger" if the agency didn't do something, so the ABRA suspended Club 1919's liquor license indefinitely. D.C. Council member Jim Graham promised to introduce legislation that would keep minors out of nightclubs that serve alcohol to adults.
Meanwhile, there is one issue that next to nobody is mentioning. You had to read to the thirteenth paragraph of the original Post piece (after the jump, on page A13), to learn that no arrests had been made in the case. Both the shooter and the girl are still at large. So why wasn't the story the day after the shooting, "Manhunt for Taleshia Ford's shooter, agitator"? Why was the response of police and city leaders almost entirely political, and why did thePost choose to follow their lead?
Police announced this week that they had learned the nickname of the assailant from several people who were in the club, but they don't want to release it to the public. It's an ongoing investigation, official police business, etc. They might catch the shooter but, given the track record of local cops for solving serious crimes, one shouldn't bet on it. The things that D.C.'s finest excel at are bureaucratic tasks like issuing traffic tickets and cracking down on over 21 establishments that aren't rigorous about checking I.D.'s -- thus the proposed crackdown on nightclubs that allow minors.
One hang-up of modern progressives is that they have no idea what to do about genuine tragedy, and so they propose solutions that are beside the point. In this case, the city decided to hold the nightclub responsible for what happened, when any business would have been hard pressed to prevent it. Security had ejected a clubber who was breaking D.C. law and she lashed out by sending a friend into the club with a gun and the hostility to use it.
There is the problem. Not that Club 1919 allowed minors on the premises, not that alcohol was served. Two people instigated a conflict that resulted in Taleshia Ford's death. We still don't know their names.
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