Exterior of Mart Liquors, at Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and Malcolm X Ave.

Nikki Peele is one of the rising stars of the River East area, blogging about issues in that part of the city, especially her neighborhood of Congress Heights, at Congress Heights On the Rise. She will be sharing some of her thoughts with us here on Greater Greater Washington.

Regardless of one’s personal stance on the consumption of alcohol almost everyone can agree that there are entirely too many liquor stores in River East. Whether you live in Ward 7 or Ward 8, in Anacostia or Congress Heights, you can’t go three blocks without encountering a blighted yet busy liquor store.

As residents we have all complained about it. We all have at least one liquor store (if not more) in our community that is on this side of sleazy and not only brings negativity and blight to the community but exploits it.

For $2,600 almost anyone can get a Type A Retailers license (the liquor store license). Isn’t our community worth more than $2,600? The license fee is miniscule in comparison to liquor store profits but how many liquor stores are contributing (both financially and civically) back to the very community they are exploiting? I think it is safe to assume that the owners of most of these liquor stores (who do not reside in the same community in which they do business) are not living in a community with a rundown liquor store on every corner. We are allowing irresponsible liquor store owners to do in our community what they would not tolerate in theirs. Why should we?

We are looking for progress and change in our community in the form of family friendly and community contributing businesses and let’s be honest the neighborhood liquor store isn’t sufficient. Most Congress Heights and River East liquor stores in general are not only eyesores but are epicenters of trash, public drunkenness and crime. Oftentimes they exploit those at their weakest and most desperate.

It’s time that we as River East residents unite as a community and present a united front to finally put a stop to what has become an epidemic of blighted liquor stores in our communities. Some ANCs and neighborhoods have tried to fight the battle on their own but as residents and community activists everyone needs to be united as one collective body and start picking off these parasites one by one. We as concerned citizens need to make it clear that we will no longer tolerate outside forces coming into our community sucking out the already limited resources and leaving nothing but negativity in its wake. We are a community worthy of great things and great things we will have.