An Email Chain With DC Council Chair and his Confusion Between Politics & Concern

September 01, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

As a resident of Ward 8 in DC for eight years, I got fed up thinking about the lack of updates regarding the mass shooting that occurred a few weeks ago this email chain with DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson which starts at the bottom.  Read from the bottom to the top.

DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson Phil Mendelson response to inquiry about the mass shooting that recently happned in DC Mr. Chairman & Neighbor, 

With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely – you sir are an elected official. You have chosen to be a publicly paid public servant for that I thank you. With this comes a great deal of responsibility as you and your colleagues are tasked partly with my neighbor's safety. You represent us, and when I believe my safety and well-being are in jeopardy, I must speak out and let my elected officials know. I think it is also your responsibility to inform us of updates related to those matters of most importance.

Chairman, I apologize that you feel you have to take my concerns. Rather than acknowledge and understand them, you choose to defend your actions regarding the single largest mass shooting in Washington, DC history. Did you even recognize my concerns in your response? Have you yet answered my specific question about the four gunmen's whereabouts? No, Instead, you let my criticism of you, an elected official, apparently offend you and then try to discredit my due diligence claiming the information I had provided was untrue. Sir, the information I provided publicly was information you offered me due to my using your 'meetup' online forum you created for residents of the District to communicate with you and ask you questions. 

I, in turn, captured your entire response to my question and included it in my article. So your claim to try to discredit me rather than listen to me is flawed by the use of your own words. "I did talk to the chief about it at the time.' You make no further indication of any other efforts in your two-minute ramble about something other than what I specifically asked. I asked, "Sir, Two weeks past and no update on four shooters that caused the largest mass shooting in DC history and largest in the country this year…". That was then translated by your team and read to you as "Do you have any update on the shooting at the mass gathering that happened in Ward 7 two weeks ago?" To which your response was, "I do not have an update on that." My frustration with you and other Council members is that, like in your answer, there has been no attention or pressure brought on publicly or even publicly discussed where the four gunmen continue to threaten our neighborhoods. Not once in your rambling response on gun laws did you mention the urgent need to get these individuals identified and brought to justice for the murder of a 17-year-old Washingtonian who was also the father of a one-year-old. Did you happen to forget about the victims of this mass shooting? 

With that said, my account of your response since the shooting was accurate, and Sir, you are your source, you made no mention of any other conversations with anyone since the incident.  

I did my due diligence; I went to several sources, you, MPD, & Ms. Tiffany Brown. I contacted the public information officer and asked specific questions:

"There have been no updates on the mass shootings that occurred on August 9th. Why haven't there been any updates about the largest mass shooting in DC history to the public? Are there any updates in general? There were well over 150 people. Do you have any video or images to release any description of the shooters? Are you still thinking four shooters? Any details as to why it happened? Also, please confirm that no charges have been filed against anyone, including the organizers. Finally, how is the off duty police officer?" I published MPD's entire response.

Finally, I had another brief conversation with the mother of Christopher Brown, Tiffany. I can't imagine the pain she is feeling. Now I understand that several departments likely will become subject of possible legal action and, understandably, what might be said from the local government may be limited, but for God sakes, no one from city government, including the CM from Ward 7, could have visited her, updated her – nothing!? I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for her to push forward each day, knowing that at any point, she could be passing by the killer who shot her son dead and ended a relationship that his son will never remember. She, of all people, should be given the courtesy of some updates.

See Mr. Chairman, you sir should be thankful to have community involvement and citizen concern. I stand by my characterization of my email based on the information you provided me. You made no other accounting of any other meeting you had with MPD when answering my inquiry. This Sir is not about my' politics.' I do not want my frustration likened to anything other than the disappointment of City Council and your Chairmanship. Four shooters, including one murderer, roam loose on our streets. All four of these criminals have zero concern for any of our neighbors' lives, as evidenced by what sounds to be random neighbors shot that night. These are four dangerous individuals who must be removed from our streets - if not for the neighbors and community at large, but Christopher, his son, for his mother and family.

 See, its easy for you to 'liken' my frustration to politics. However, what has been lost upon you, Sir, is in your attempt to divert blame - one of your neighbors is concerned for other children being shot, other fathers, being shot, our neighbors being shot, or, worst-case scenario, me being shot. That there is genuine concern for my neighbors for myself, not politics. Define it as you want; however, this is about my neighbors' elected politicians' accountability for keeping us informed. You are welcome to avoid facing my initial concern over the four gunmen running our streets. However, suggesting my correspondence is anything other than my attempt to help bring justice to Ms. Brown and her family & friends and help bring a sense of safety to my southeast neighbors. Your decision to likening my genuine concern to our President is disgusting. I haven't picked any fights in the eight years I have lived in DC except for a stop sign. However, I do have to agree this is a fight I am willing to pick. Yes, I hold you, Council, any agency tasked with finding those who killed our 17-year-old father and neighbor.

Additionally, 21 others were shot or injured that August night. Their lives were changed forever. The Council must pressure MPD and the Mayor to find those responsible as quickly as possible while keeping District residents updated on any progress. This way, not only can the family of Christopher Brown finally rest, so can my criticism of how this matter has been handled. Until then, you can expect me to use any medium possible moving forward to keep this matter alive until this 'horrible situation' involving the lives of so many DC residents solved, and the gunmen are removed off our streets.

I think you're right; our community has become complacent with the nearly daily, sometimes hourly reports of shootings. We hear the rounds go off as we lay in bed or are on the couch watching tv. All we can do is sit and pray that one of those bullets doesn't stray to find another child in its path or end of another neighbors life. It's not a matter of our community accepting of gun violence; it's a matter of survival; it's a matter of the inability to find a solution to a problematic situation. Our neighbors of the District of Columbia rely on your attentiveness, assertiveness, and the District's rich resources to quickly find a resolution without violating anyone's constitutional rights. That's why you were elected; it wasn't to criticize a neighbor when that neighbor expressed concern over his well-being and his neighbors' safety and well-being.

Respectfully frustrated, your Ward 8 neighbor,

Tom Donohue

PS, I have emailed the Judiciary Committee expressing these same concerns with no response from any other City Council member other than CM Vincent Gray.

PPS, If you don't tell us, we don't know.


From: Mendelson, Phil (COUNCIL) <[email protected]>
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2020 4:53 PM
To: Tom Donohue <[email protected]>
Cc: Walton, Lindsey (Council) <[email protected]>
Subject: FW: Mass Shooting


Mr. Donohue,

Your email is dated August 28th.  It accused me: “The Chairman hasn’t even inquired.”  That is factually untrue; by August 28th I had discussed the shooting twice with the Chief of Police.  As I said at the “meetup,” a portion of which you included on your blog (link), I spoke with the Chief “at the time” the shooting occurred.  Please re-listen to your own blog.  I spoke with him again, last week, after my monthly meeting with him.

I find the public discourse over current events has become increasingly and unnecessarily angry and combative.  Perhaps it is not prudent for me to push back.  It is fair to ask what I’ve done rather than accuse me of doing “nothing,” not “even inquired.”   I don’t know your politics, but I want to liken this to the President:  pick fights rather than resolution.

So what have I done?  I continue to press law enforcement agencies through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (on which I sit) to be more aggressive about gun violence and looking at deterrent steps that can be taken (like specialized gun prosecutions, gun court, immediate step backs for anyone accused of a gun offense while on probation, parole, or pending trial, etc.)  I wrote our gun laws which arguably are the strongest in the nation.  I meet monthly with the Police Chief to discuss gun violence.  I’ve supported alternative approaches like violence interrupters.  I’ve put money in the budget for an organization called DC Witness to track what actually happens to homicide cases, because I believe accountability is sorely lacking over what the US Attorney does with gun violence (see  I’m open to proposals that have been successful in other jurisdictions.  I should note, though, that primary jurisdiction at the Council for public safety lies with the Judiciary Committee chaired by Councilmember Charles Allen.  There was a mass shooting when I chaired that Committee 10 years ago and I immediately held a public hearing.

I also believe that our community is more accepting of the violence than it should be, even though most individuals would deny this.  But it would be good if more people were as angry as you. 

Thank you for taking the time to write.

-Phil Mendelson 



From: Tom Donohue <[email protected]>
Date: Friday, August 28, 2020 at 8:44 AM
To: "
[email protected]" <[email protected]>
Subject: Mass Shooting


Hey! Remember That DC Mass Shooting, Largest One Ever in DC? Here's Why You Should Be MAD AS HELL.


Two Weeks and nothing.  The Chairman hasn’t even inquired.  Does he care about us in southeast?  4 FOUR shooters are still at large and the Chairman doesn’t even care to follow up about them?


Tom Donohue

8 year Ward 8 Resident and small business.



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