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Violence prevention center caught in crossfire of mass shooting, looking to help the community heal

The Alliance of Concerned Men has stood as a "sanctuary" from violence on Dubois Place SE for 30 years. Then, a mass shooting brought violence to their doorstep.

WASHINGTON — The Alliance of Concerned Men (ACM) is still cleaning up broken glass and bottle tops after a party on their southeast D.C. block became the site of a mass shooting over the weekend.

DC Police said 22 people were shot near the 3300 block of Dubois Place SE Saturday night, including a female off-duty officer, and a 17-year-old father, who died.

Hundreds had gathered in that area for a block party, which did not have a permit to operate.

ACM Chief of Staff Clayton Rosenberg said organizers even used the back parking lot of their building to host a mechanical bull.

"We were just in shock," Rosenberg said. "We never talked to the individuals that promoted the event, the individuals that put it on, we had no knowledge it was going on, so we were in complete shock and disorder.”

He said they never would have endorsed the party first and foremost because of safety concerns with the coronavirus pandemic. Rosenberg caught COVID earlier this year and knows how devastating the impact can be on one's body.

He said had they known that night about the party, his team would have made efforts to shut it down, fearing where the night could lead.

RELATED: Mass shooting at DC party draws new attention to problem with large gatherings during pandemic

Credit: Eric Jansen
Chief of Staff for the Alliance of Concerned Men, Clayton Rosenberg, stares at the sign that is now sporting bullet holes after a weekend party turned deadly.

Now, the organization's sign is lying in their backyard, sporting bullet holes from the night's tragic events. All while Mayor Muriel Bowser has shared that 570 people have been shot in the District so far this year. Plus, per DC Police data, homicides are up by 20% from this time last year.

But for Rosenberg, the biggest concern is healing a traumatized community.

“It was a tragic event, something that no one could imagine," he said. "And to see that happen pretty much outside of our building and on the street where we consider this to be safe, it was unfortunate and we want to definitely send our prayers and our condolences to the Brown family and all the other victims that were traumatized that night.”

For 30 years, the Alliance has worked to mentor young people in D.C. and keep them from going down a violent path. Rosenberg, who was born and raised in southeast D.C., said he was one of those children years ago.

RELATED: Search continues for 4 shooters who killed teenage dad, shot 21 others at DC block party

“They mentored me with one of their programs and I saw what it can do, because I was easily on the road to being one of the people out there causing problems," he said. "But by having them mentor me, helping me stay on the right path, I was able to go to undergrad and get my masters. When you care for people and you give them the hope and the energy to succeed, anything is possible, because I’m an example.”

That's what has propelled him to carry the torch for his generation. And now, the attention has shifted back to the community around their flagship office at 3227 Dubois Place SE -- a place Rosenberg used to think was safe.

RELATED: 'I know this is not the only child, nor will it be the last child' | Family of 17-year-old SE shooting victim speaks out

Credit: Eric Jansen
Broken glass still litter Dubois Place SE after the mass shooting at the weekend party left cars' windows shattered outside the Alliance of Concerned Men's office.

“It enlightened us to do a better job," Rosenberg said. "We have to be more vigilant and out here in the community more and let them know if they have any questions or concerns or anything that they don’t know, we’re here for them...The only reason we exist is to combat youth and gang violence, provide services to individuals that need it, and to help bridge the gap between the government and the community base.”

They've already hired a new community liaison to help be the bridge between ACM and the neighborhood, to find out what resources they need and work to provide them.

Rosenberg said to really make an impact, they need more funding from ANC commissioners, from the Council, from the mayor's office. But for now, they're doing the best they can with what they have.

RELATED: 'I know this is not the only child, nor will it be the last child' | Family of 17-year-old SE shooting victim speaks out

The ACM wants neighbors to know, their door is always open.

"I hope that everyone can come together after this and say enough is enough. It’s too many babies dying. It’s too many mothers crying. It’s too many dads not getting to see their kids grow up," Rosenberg said. "A lot of this has to stop, and it has to stop now…We want to bring people together and let them know we love you all, but we want you all to know and understand you’re not all here by yourself, there’s always someone somewhere that’s looking to see you do better in life…We exist for the community and all our communities need love right now.”

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