Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C Chairman Salim Adofo continued his quest to limit the number of liquor stores in the ward with a recent demonstration in front of a well-known retail outlet two blocks south of the St. Elizabeths East campus.

The Informer reported in its Nov. 18, 2020, edition of Adofo’s work in rallying residents to deny liquor licenses to corner stores in the ward. Adofo continued his efforts on May 19 by holding a roughly four-hour protest in front of the Mart Liquor Store, located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X avenues in Southeast.

“The protest went extremely well,” Adofo said. “We had 268 people sign a petition to deny The Mart a renewal of their liquor license. As a matter of fact, we closed them down for a while but we didn’t intend to do that.”

Adofo said efforts to curtail the number of liquor licenses in Ward 8 are based on data and conclusions of the D.C. Health Equity Report issued in 2018. Additionally, a number of studies have been conducted by various organizations and think tanks revealing liquor stores located in poor and predominantly Black neighborhoods as opposed to white areas.

In addition to The Mart, Adofo posted on Facebook on May 20 stores such as the Fort Carroll Delicatessen, Holiday Liquor and King Avenue Liquor will be challenged on getting their liquor licenses renewed by the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. He said the May 19 protest reinvigorated the discussion among community activists and noted his support among fellow commissioners and organizations such as the National Black United Front, Black social workers and the District’s branch of the NAACP.

“We want the community to be engaged with this process,” Adofo said. “These businesses shouldn’t get their liquor licenses renewed without community input.”

However, there are some residents who don’t agree with Adofo’s actions. Jay Cerr, a customer of The Mart, believes the store should have its liquor license renewed.

“This is a good store,” Cerr said. “The people who run it are good. They hire people from the neighborhood to clean up at night. They have also agreed to look into giving some money to the D.C. Boys and Girls Club. The people who own this store treat people in the community right. I disagree with Salim. We need to keep these stores. If they go away, you know what will happen. High-rise apartments will be built in their place and that won’t help anybody around here.”

Larry Booker patronizes The Mart but candidly admits a problem exists when liquor stores are common in Black neighborhoods.

“I don’t think it is good,” he said. “The number of liquor stores in the Black community needs to be reduced.”

Adofo said the high number of liquor stores becomes a problem when so few alternatives are available to Ward 8 residents when that is not the case for dwellers west of the Anacostia River.

“We have these liquor stores here but there are no banks and no food and vegetable stands,” he said. “Plus, in the immediate area of The Mart, are schools and a homeless shelter. That is not good for the community.”

The Informer sought comment from the owners of The Mart but they didn’t respond in a visit to the store and phone calls.

Adofo said he and his supporters will monitor developments with the liquor license renewals and will offer testimony to the alcoholic beverage agency when asked to do so. He said his efforts to curtail liquor store licenses will continue outside of Ward 8.

“We are making plans to take this movement across the city,” he said. “We are looking at Max Liquor in Ward 7 as our next protest target.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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