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D.C. police have arrested a 13-year-old boy for threatening to stab a man with a machete while hurling homophobic slurs at him.
Police say the victim was headed to Shaw’s Tavern, a restaurant in the 500 block of Florida Avenue NW, around 3 p.m. on Sunday when the youth first flung homophobic slurs his way. While the victim was dining on the outside patio, the youth left and returned with a machete.
The youth then began stabbing cicadas on the ground and flicking them at the victim. At one point, he waved the machete at the patron, threatening to stab him and saying: “I’ll silence you.”
No one was injured in the incident, which was caught on surveillance video.
Police later arrested the 13-year-old based on the images from the video. The youth has since been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, reports The Washington Post.
The incident occurred on the same weekend as Capital Pride, when LGBTQ patrons were out and about in various bars and restaurants in the U Street corridor.
In a statement, the restaurant thanked the Metropolitan Police Department for responding to violent crime in the neighborhood.
“Unfortunately, a majority of the recent incidents have involved minors, some as young as 12 years old. Over the past several months, we have been in communication with fellow business owners, our ANC, MPD, council members, the Mayor’s office, and youth outreach coordinators in hopes of collectively addressing the instances of crime,” Shaw’s Tavern said in a statement. “Clearly we’re failing given the frightening nature of this incident, which occurred in broad daylight with thousands of people out celebrating Pride weekend.
“Shaw’s Tavern is proud to be a gathering place where all people are welcome and celebrated. We firmly condemn any and all acts of hate, including this most recent incident in our neighborhood,” it continued. “We were unable to get the information of the victim yesterday, but would appreciate getting in touch with them to check in and see how they’re doing.”
Rob Heim, the manager of Shaw’s Tavern, told Metro Weekly in a follow-up interview that Shaw’s Tavern — as well as other restaurants, businesses, and residents who call the U Street corridor home — has been dealing with other incidents involving harassment, all seeming to involve the same group of juveniles, for the past three or four months.
“It started with water balloons being thrown, rocks, lightbulbs, and obviously the machete incident on Saturday was the most severe one,” Heim said. “We’ve called MPD every single time. There’s not much they can do because of their age. Obviously, this time was more severe, so they were able to arrest the juvenile who was found responsible.”
Heim says the situation is exacerbated by increased capacity, with patrons now sitting in expanded outdoor seating (added during the COVID-19 pandemic), as well as the arrival of warmer weather, which brings more people out of their homes, and provides harassers a steady supply of potential victims.
He also says that after meeting with various community stakeholders, elected officials, and representatives from the department, the restaurant was advised to keep calling police when such incidents occur, even if the juveniles flee before police arrive on scene.
“We’ve been calling every time it happens. But you never know when it’s going to happen. One time, it was a Monday at 5 o’clock, another time it was Wednesday at 9, and Saturday at 3 was the most recent one,” Heim says. “It can happen any time of the day, at all times. It’s pretty scary.”
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