Group Displays 2000 crosses Near White House on Inauguration Anniversary
WASHINGTON — One by one people stopped and stared. The scores of passersby gazed at the thousands of crosses spread across the ground not far from the White House and soaked in the photographs of the faces that had been carefully attached to each. They were mothers, fathers, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins. They were black, white, Latino, young and old. Some had been killed even after living just a fraction of their lives.
These were crosses, somber memorials for dead, for Anthony Irving, Darrius Johnson, Chanelle Rosebear, Myah Bass, and hundreds more, all victims of gun violence.
“It was truly amazing to see,” said Belmira Machado, who stopped at the memorial, as she walked by. “It’s one thing to hear about the tragic deaths on the news, but it’s another to see their faces and see the visual representation like this.”
The stares, the questions, and the attention were exactly what Tao Martinez, Greg Zanis, and Robert Renteria had hoped for when they planned this Washington memorial. The response by those viewing it paid homage to all the hours they and others put in of collecting the wood and piecing the crosses together by hand, pulling the nails out of donated wood, carefully placing a photograph of each victim on a cross.
The Crosses for Losses team worked to create the memorial and it is designed to focus the nation’s attention on gun violence in America. It is an organization that does its part to end gun violence through support, education, and intervention. Zanis founded the organization over 20 years ago as a way to help others and grieve his own personal loss.
Martinez and Renteria recently joined the organization after losing a loved one to gun violence.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says guns kill on average 96 Americans per day annually. While thousands gathered in protest at the second annual Women’s March just blocks away, the exhibit, on the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of President Trump, the demonstration was to promote unity and not a political statement, Martinez said.
Martinez, emergency responder, Zanis, carpenter, and Renteria, author and motivational speaker worked nonstop to create the personalized crosses by hand, sometimes working for 22 hours straight, with the help of a few volunteers. Zanis and Martinez made the 11-hour drive from the Chicago suburb of Aurora to Washington with one of many trucks and trailers filled with crosses.
The trio and other volunteers Saturday placed the crosses, one by one, on the on an area called the Ellipse, not far from the White House. The entire process took about four hours.
“We want to make our country safe,” Martinez said.
The trio wanted to do “something fantastic, something big, something that the whole world and nation can come together to support,” Martinez stated.
It used to be Martinez's job as a deputy coroner to tell relatives of the deaths of their loved ones.
“I don’t want to deliver this news to fathers and mothers,” he said, and “this year was just one after another,” Martinez continued.
Each cross came from a donation because the team did not have the resources to buy the 15,000 dollars worth of fresh wood required to make all 2,000 crosses, Martinez said. The team had to pull out nails, trim, and treat the wood before constructing the crosses into their final shape. Each cross featured a heart, as well as a picture and name of a victim of gun violence.
Before Machado left the site to attend the Women’s March, she offered one last comment, “something has to change.”
To learn more about the organization, visit their website at www.crossesforlosses.net.
Howard University was on high alert Tuesday shortly afternoon, as the campus was alerted to reports of a gunman on campus. Students immediately went on social media to receive updates and they vented frustrations of chaos and conflicting reports. NewsVision reporter Judayah Murray has the story.
Classes were canceled Tuesday afternoon at Howard University, after reports of a suspected gunman on campus. Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick says the university received the reports from the Metropolitan Police Department shortly after noon. NewsVision reporter Kiana Kisino spoke to Howard students about the incident.
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Howard University's Homecoming celebration was interrupted Tuesday, with reports of a possible active shooter on campus. After authorities gave the all clear, students reacted to the incident which happened days before thousands are expected to pack the Washington, D.C. campus for its sesquicentennial festivities. NewsVision reporter Courtney Tate has the story.
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Commuters who park on Howard University parking lots are on edge as the number of auto-related thefts continue to rise on campus. Howard University News Service reporter Bianca Burns has the story.
WASHINGTON – Columbia Heights residents in northwest Washington are wary after police have failed to solve two murders that occurred just 12 hours and one mile apart nearly a month after they occurred.
Alejandra Coronado-Cardona, 37, was found dead in the 3300 block of Sherman Avenue March 8 of stab wounds. Twelve hours prior, Deonte Bethea, 30, died of multiple gunshot wounds at Center and Ogden streets on the eastside of Columbia Heights.
Even though the Metropolitan Police Department has offered a $25,000 reward to encourage those with knowledge in Cardona's murder to come forward, so far they have not made an arrest in either murder.
The failure to apprehend a suspect is cause for serious concern, according to Bernard Langley, a Columbia Road resident.
"This happened right up the street from where I live so, yeah, I'm concerned,” Langley said. “Thankfully, my family hasn't been affected, but still, it happened right there and that's too close. They gotta do something. It's too much now."
Malcolm Thomas shared Langley's concern.
"There's way too much crime in this area, and the police need to be doing more,” Thomas said. “How am I supposed to feel safe here when people are being killed at places I frequent and businesses I patronize? What more is it gonna take."
Murders have declined dramatically in the District over the past 20 years, falling from 365 in 1995 to 104 last year, even as the District’s population has been on the rise.
The March 8 murders are just two of the four that have occurred in Ward 1 since the New Year, according to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Thu Nguyen, but Nguyen said at the current rate, Ward 1 could soon meet last year's homicide total with the addition of another murder.
According to ANC Commissioner Darwain Frost, the police, in conjunction with the ANC, arein the process of implementing several additional actions to ease anxiety amongst residents and spur safety increase throughout Ward 1. The first is a monthly informational session.
"The police come and inform the community of various crimes taking place as well as do walk-throughs of how to be safe when walking around,” Frost said. “They recognize that there is a problem and are working diligently to help solve it."
Uwhankebe Anana, a two-year District resident, said that community outreach is necessary.
"Whoever is in charge of safety protocol needs to let people know what's going on,” Anana said. “Whether it's by way of flyers and other handbills or meetings, people have to know what's happening. Keeping people updated is the only way to expect a safety improvement, otherwise you can forget it."
Anyone with information about the murders of Coronado-Cardona or Bethea is asked to call police at 202-727-9099. Callers who provide information that leads to an arrest and conviction can receive a reward up to $25,000. Anonymous information may be submitted via text by messaging 50411.
Police Make Arrests, But Looking at More Connections
WASHINGTON – The U-Street, LeDroit Park and Shaw neighborhoods in northwest Washington have seen an alarming increase in car-related break-ins, vandalism and thefts in the early part of the year, police report.
Police said someone operating a dark SUV was seen driving around and smashing windows in the LeDroit Park area at around 3 a.m. on February 4 in what appeared to be just vandalism rather than targeted robbery.
“This is not a typical case that LeDroit Park is used to,” said Brian Footer, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Ward 1.
Later that day, during daylight hours, 25 vehicles located in a Howard University parking lot had their windows broken. A number of cars had items stolen, according to Howard University Chief of Police Brian Jordan.
The Metropolitan Police Department said the cases have been assigned to a single detective and are being investigated as related offenses.
A number of vehicle break-ins have also been reported to police in the 400 block of U Street during a three-week time span. A burglar tried to break into a vehicle late last month, but fled on foot after the alarm was triggered.
A week later, a police report was filed for an attempt to steal a separate car on the same block. The owner of the vehicle, Clark Cheney, said the burglar broke his steering column and removed the ignition cylinder, but an anti-theft immobilizer prevented the vehicle from being stolen.
On February 10, a plumber came to Cheney’s house for a service call, and when he finished his work, he returned to his truck to find his window shattered and a laptop stolen.
Two days later, the contractor of Cheney’s neighbor filed a police report after his laptop was stolen and car window was broken into on the 400 block U Street.
“I really don’t want our neighborhood to feel like this is normal and that we have to accept it,” Cheney said. “Because it’s not normal, we don’t have to accept it.”
Meanwhile, police report multiple car break-ins in other parts of the metro area. Police said 15 cars were broken into in Georgetown in one incident on February 1, while that same morning in northern Virginia, 17 cars were found broken into with smashed windows and stolen items of value, according to an Arlington, Va., police report.
Fourteen vehicles were also damaged on February 7 in a parking garage on Clarendon Boulevard, along with five vehicles on a nearby street that were affected the next day. The crime is still under investigation.
In Chevy Chase, Maryland, police arrested two suspects on February 12 who broke inside a “bait car” parked on Primrose Street. The suspects, who police said had stolen items in their possession, were charged for the break-in of at least four other cars on the street.
Police are requesting drivers to remove all personal belongings before exiting the car and to contact them if anything suspicious is noticed.
Cheney said he hopes to see a strong partnership with police officers moving forward in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, he views it important that neighbors in the community begin to look out for each other and stay alert of crimes.
“The neighborhood needs to be vigilant so that our neighborhood develops a reputation that it’s not an easy target,” he said. “Apparently the word is out that thieves can come to our neighborhood and destroy the property of others without any consequences. We need to counteract that."