Community violence takes center stage following Anacostia-area play

Washington DC — A community that came together to watch a heartbreaking story of loss when a young man because of inner city violence stuck around after the play to talk about the strife plaguing District streets.

On Sunday, the Theater Alliance closed its run of Brownsville Song (B-side for Tray) at the Anacostia Playhouse.

After each show the audience was invited to stick around and talk about the issues brought up in the play (based on a true story) and the violence that has led to more than 100 homicides in the District since the beginning of the year.

Many who were there for the final show heard from Kenneth McClenton, whose daughter was shot and killed last year while on her way home from work. McClenton has yet to see Charnice Milton’s killer found. It’s why he is working with the Anacostia Coordinating Council on the Open Heart Close Case campaign.

The campaign consists of poster boards highlighting the 55 unsolved homicides in the District so far in 2016 that are displayed at community functions that request it.

Phillip Pannell, executive director of the ACC, said wards 7, 8 and 5 see the most homicides.

“Murder and violence have become so routine that people have become numb to it,” said Pannell.

Pannell suggested creating a new kind of anonymous tip system because many people believe texts and calls with information about murders and other crimes could be traced back to their cell phones.

McClenton hopes the campaign and discussions with the community about violence can help spur the public to action. He’d like to see a public push for police to devote more resources to solving cold cases.

McClenton would also like to see clergy and faith leaders in the community embrace the Open Heart Close Case campaign to try and eliminate the “cone of silence” in the community “that is killing people.”

"You need to be a citizen," said McClenton. "If you've done something or if you've seen something you need to let the police know."

McClenton he'd like to see his daughter's case closed for to bring some peace to his family but also prevent the same heartache from being repeated.