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Ward 8 Liquor Merchants Face License Challenges

ANC Leaders Launch Initiative to Stem Alcohol Sales

While the District has seen a decrease in violent crimes in comparison to 2019, Ward 8 homicides and assaults have increased, leading several liquor stores to potential closures as District authorities look for ways to rectify variables of the dismay.

Salim Adofo, a Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, is spearheading a campaign to deny renewal of select liquor operating licenses in areas of repeated criminal behavior. He has cited a string of assault and violence cases within feet of the various locations to support his effort to halt retail liquor sales to halt violence in the streets.

“It’s going to have to take a collective effort from a variety of different agencies, institutions, and individuals [residents] to make this change,” Adofo said. “I saw this as an opportunity for me to challenge the renewal, or the issuances of liquor licenses in Ward 8, because there are a lot of mind-altering substances in alcohol that have adverse impacts in our community.”

While authorities do not intend to prohibit the ability of residents to partake in adult beverages, Ward 8 officials argue the overwhelming access to alcoholic products potentially encourages the consistent rates of criminal activity.

According to DC MPD’s Atlas crime map report, Ward 8 has tallied 55 homicides this year, equaling 2019 records, as well as 392 assault cases, compared to 321 in the previous year. Among the total assault cases, 31 of those were reported as sexual abuse crimes.

While officials resist blaming liquor stores as a platform for illegal activity, there is strong support for the idea of liquor as an agent in many of the reported incidents.

In the ANC 8C protest letter, the commission advocated for more wholesome business operations in place of alcohol distributors.

“There are so many business owners that seemingly believe the best way to come into this community and provide a service to make money is by serving alcohol, and it’s just not true,” Adofo said. “People will consume what is put in front of them on a consistent basis. So why not put out fruits and vegetables, something that’s more healthy? Why are you trying to make a living off of things that are contributing to our demise?”

Wonder Mart, a convenience store on Martin Luther King Ave., SE, was seeking a liquor license until Adofo’s initiative stopped the proposal. Several other liquor stores on the commission’s target list are up for renewal, too, including Charles Corner in the Barry Farm community, near Excel Academy PCS, and Liz Market in Congress Heights, directly across from a University of the District Columbia campus and MLK Elementary School.

While Adofo supports license challenges, there is local indifference to the resolution.

“I imagine they want to get rid of these liquor stores because of the traffic of the homeless, and probably crime but, you’re taking away from a family when you’re doing that. Business is business,” said Wesley Leakes, a Southeast resident.

Yet, Ward 8 Councilman Trayon White (D) said he is concerned about the heavy presence of alcohol distributors in his community.

“We have more liquor stores than recreation centers. We have more liquor stores than after school programs. The millions spent at those liquor stores are not circulating back in our community,” said White. “Substance abuse is destroying families and communities every day. I am not against restaurants with liquor licenses but, we don’t need one more damn liquor store.”

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