The City Paper’s Profile of Ali Ahmed Mohammed

Ali Ahmed Mohammed stopped existing on October 15. I use that odd phrasing because of something striking I have noticed– white people tend to say “he died”, while Black people use words like “he was killed”. Almost four months after a death which is still shrouded in mystery, the City Paper’s feature, “Something Happened at DC9. Who Did it Happen to?” doesn’t provide any additional information to those of us who wonder how Mohammed died or why.

So this is what the piece does do; it humanizes Mohammed while providing details about a man who has either been vilified or martyred, depending on whom you ask. This is what it does not do: assign blame. Maybe we’ll never know what happened, but if you are interested in one of the city’s most prominent immigrant communities, the article is worth a read:

One thing to know about Little Ethiopia: It’s not little. Decade-old census figures place the number of Ethiopians in the region at about 30,000, but community members suspect the real number is considerably higher—at least 100,000. It’s the largest Ethiopian community outside Ethiopia, says Andrew Laurence , president of the Ethiopian-American Cultural Center and the neighborhood’s unofficial historian.

Like the demographic that congregates there, Little Ethiopia has been growing. Today, Laurence says, it encompasses a “traditional border of 18th Street in Adams Morgan from Columbia Road to Florida Avenue over to 9th Street along Florida (U Street) to 9th Street and then down 9th Street to Q Street and over to 7th and Q Street.” Of course, Ethiopians aren’t the only ones who flock to the 1900 block of 9th Street NW. DC9, with its appeal to white hipsters, and Nellie’s, a gay sports bar on the corner, reflect two other populations with a growing presence in the neighborhood.

Laurence says D.C. became a hub for Ethiopian immigrants starting in the 1970s, “when Haile Selassie was overthrown.” The Marxist military regime that took over began killing off elites and intellectuals, Laurence says. Many fled to America, which had supported the deposed monarchy. The immigrant population was initially centered in Adams Morgan, near the former home of the Ethiopian embassy.

“Before we do anything though, lets help DC9 re-open”


Memorial in front of DC9.

I can’t figure out why, exactly, but seeing this at the top of Brightest Young Things‘ weekly roundup of events and things to do-email made me a little queasy:

This week’s BEST WEEKEND BETS is, as always, hand selected from BYT ALL CITY and calibrated for maximum fun and minimum stress, and will be punctuated by images from random tumblrs we spent to much time on this week because, well, we can.

Before we do anything though, lets help DC9 re-open.It’s as easy as sending an email with:

Subject: I feel safe at DC9
Send to ABC board and council members
Email: abra@dc.gov , jim@grahamwone.com


Lets all just have a super weekend

It’s as easy as sending an email? But then what? Someone who lives in a different neighborhood, who may have a different complexion sends an email advocating for DC9 to remain closed? I get that the charges have been dropped, and if we believe in the presumption of innocence then my head tells me that it’s only fair to allow this business to reopen…for now. The squishy red thing in my chest disagrees with my head, violently.

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Not his blood.


Memorial for Mohammed, outside DC9

This seems significant, since that photograph of blood on white crosswalk paint is what I think about, as soon as someone mentions “DC9″:

Images published on TBD.com and on the Washington Post’s website that purported to show a bloody crosswalk in the vicinity of the DC9 nightclub do not depict the blood of Ali Ahmed Mohammed, according to authorities with knowledge of the case.

The photographs first surfaced on Oct. 15, when reporters descended on the scene near 9th and U streets NW. Mohammed died early that morning following an altercation with five men who worked at the bar. The men were accused of chasing, tackling and beating Mohammed after he allegedly threw one or two bricks through the front window of the bar. Charges of aggravated assault in the case have since been dropped, though the investigation is ongoing, and charges could be re-filed at a later date.

The incident…took place on a sidewalk on 9th Street NW, north of U Street, while the images depict a bloody crosswalk on the south side of U Street, authorities say. In other words, the bloody scene was not the same location where Mohammed was allegedly tackled and restrained by the DC9 employees. [TBD]

Supporters of Ali Ahmed Mohammed March, Rally at City Hall


City Hall

After charges were dropped against the five DC9 employees who may have been involved with Ali Ahmed Mohammed’s death, TBD is reporting that over 100 of his family and friends marched to City Hall today, demanding justice:

The amount of anger and frustration among the protesters was at times overwhelming. After addressing the vocal crowd in Amharic, his native language, Mohammed’s father, Ahmed Goltchu Mohammed, became too emotional and had to be escorted away by the family’s attorney. The protest then continued for at least another hour. “We have to work with the system,” the elder Mohammed urged the crowd to remember…

At issue for those gathered was a deep concern that the case might have been dismissed for good. In a statement released Friday accompanying the court filing explaining why the charges had been dropped, however, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen made plain that the investigation is ongoing, and that charges could be re-filed after an autopsy report and any additional evidence becomes available…

While the crowd didn’t hear from any of the three politicians they had hoped to engage (Mayor Adrian Fenty, Mayor-elect Vince Gray or Council member Jim Graham), Mayor-for-life Marion Barry and Council Chairman-elect Kwame Brown addressed Mohammed’s supporters:
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