WASHINGTON — Sunday night’s deadly shooting at the corner of 14th and U Streets Northwest left some locals defending an event they say has helped bring the District together in the past.
Chase Poole, 15, of Northwest D.C., was shot and killed shortly after officers with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) decided to break up a large gathering at the intersection, Sunday afternoon, due to safety concerns. The gunman responsible for Poole’s death also injured three people in the incident, police said.
Just minutes prior to the shooting, hundreds of people were listening to live go-go music at the intersection during an event named “Moechella”.
Moechella has been held off-and-on at the intersection since 2019 as a way to preserve the District’s lifestyle and culture with live music in a block party setting.
In the past, Moechella has even been promoted by members of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration.
On Friday, D.C. Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio appeared on WTTG-TV’s morning show to mention some of the things locals could do around town during the weekend. He mentioned Moechella as one of the options available to residents.
“In addition to ‘Something in the Water’ and the Nationals, Moechella is doing an event at 14th and U, which is free and open to the public,” he said.
However, on Sunday, shortly after the shooting occurred, MPD Chief Robert Contee and Mayor Bowser took another stance on Moechella.
The chief pointed out that Moechella was an unpermitted event.
“We don’t want any unpermitted events here in our city,” he said.
District leaders added they would reach out to Moechella’s organizers “Long Live Go-Go DC” and investigate further whether any charges were needed in the case.
“We need on these corridors and all of our corridors, but we need some accountability here,” Bowser said.
On Monday, Long Live Go-Go DC posted on its Instagram account a statement in response to Sunday’s incident at 14th and U streets.
"As we continue to cultivate a platform to uplift the culture of Washington DC, we don't condone violence of any sort. Moechella is a symbol of Black culture in DC and is built on the foundation of peace,” the statement reads.
However, many people took to social media to criticize the District’s response to Moechella and their concern that Go-Go was being equated with violence.
“[It’s] like saying video games cause violence,” tweeted @Yenomgib1. “No. Its entertainment. It's music. Gogo is not violent!”
Others, like Ward 4 D.C. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, argued that District leaders were well aware Moechella would occur long before Sunday’s shooting took place.
“Moechella has been a celebration of music and DC culture for years,” Lewis George tweeted. “It's clear this event had government sponsorship and government resources, including a heavy presence. The way some people are talking about this event as unauthorized shows how little they know about DC.”
Contee did say MPD had 100 officers on hand for the event.
Fliers for Moechella even included a logo for “202 Creates”, which is an organization started by Mayor Bowser that celebrates makers and creators in the District. However, it is unclear if 202 Creates actually sponsored the event.
Either way, D.C. natives like Markus Batchelor say they believe the Mayor’s reaction to Moechella on Sunday was disingenuous.
“We want every right safety measure put into place to keep folks safe, but to use the majority of the press conference last night as a vehicle to berate the organizers, as if they had done something wrong, as opposed to our government and our institutions failing to keep illegal guns off the street, failing to create safe avenues and safe opportunities and good opportunities for young people who too often are caught in the line of gunfire in our city, I thought was just a misdirection,” he said.