Lisa Marie Thalhammer: Public health and safety emergency on the unit block of O Street NW

See this message from one of the artists at 52 O Street Studios:

From: <>
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2018 3:46 PM
To:;; Frenzel, Peter (MPD) <>;;;;
Cc: Cheatham, Demetris (Council) <dcheatham@DCCOUNCIL.US>; mcrawfordriddick@DCCOUNCIL.US; wdawson@DCCOUNCIL.US; Stokes, John (DPR) <>;;;; Daryl Wright <>; Linda Parisi <>; Seneca Wood <>; Anna Christ <>;; Marilyn <>; Aisha Bond <>; Bradley Thomas <>; Sylvia Pinkey; Leon Braddell; amtaylor12; Joyce Robinson-Paul <>; Juanita Culbreth <>;; Patrick Williams <>;; Marty Youmans;;;;;;;;;
Subject: Public Health & Safety Emergency on the Unit Block of O Street NW

Dear Mayor Bowser, Chief Newsham, Lt. Frenzel, Sgt. Brown, Councilmember McDuffie, Liaison Gaines, and Liaison Rogers,  

Please help us. The synthetic drug epidemic is threatening our safety, businesses and homes at the O Street Artist Studios, 52 O St. NW. This situation has reached extremes with dangerous loitering regularly, due to the sale of drugs, with people blocking the entrances to our buildings and homes. We witness an alarming amount of sickness due to this situation. We live and work in Washington DC’s longest lasting studio art building dedicated to providing space for artists and creatives but this situation is putting our block and community at risk.  

In my thirteen years of experience living on the unit block of O Street Northwest, this issue has never been more intense than it is now. At ANC and civic meetings MPDC has suggested that we call 911 because folks on these substances may become violent if agitated. My neighbor says she has been calling 911 twice a day without much lasting change. What else can we be doing? We have organized neighborhood beatification projects and purchased barriers to try to address this situation but we are still struggling. Another neighbor mentioned a report that 20% of the city’s K2 OD deaths are happening on our block – which is an incredibly high amount in one targeted area. If this is true, my calculations after reading NPRs article on the DC K2 epidemic is that over 100 deaths have occurred in the past month on our block specifically. It sure feels like this is accurate. Everyday when we go to work or come home, we find passed out people laying on the sidewalks or blocking our entrances. These are traumatizing experiences. Can you please respond to the accuracy of this estimate? Can you also report on the number of ambulance responses specifically to our block compared to previous years? Please also see this bizarre situation on our block, which was recently posted about on instagram, and then reposted on Popville DC

For us on O Street this feels like an emergency. Can the city work together with our S.O.M.E. neighbors to address this situation, which is seriously impacting homeless humans in Washington DC, and provide them with the support they need? Can DPR please arrange some immediate air conditioned actives for folks so that they can escape the O street heat, get the help they need and have options other than indulging in these toxic deadly substances? Can MPDC increase the officer presence and place an obvious police camera stand at the corner of O Street and Hanover alley in front of our building? Could DDOT switch out the current tree boxes that people sit on for spiked iron boxes? Can you create a special task force to to address this public health and safety emergency on the unit block of O Street Northwest? People are selling their homes and moving their business due to this situation. If guns were the violent weapon of choice instead of these drugs, would there be a different response to an estimated 100+ deaths on one DC city block within a one month time? 

I have copied Council staff members, DPR staff, ANC5E representatives, Hanover Civic Association members and leaders, Friends of the New York Ave Playground, North Capitol Main Street, NOMA bid, SOME staff, Open Arms Housing, House of Lebanon staff, other neighbors and the artists at 52 O Street on this communication. How can we work together to develop an immediate solution to end this epidemic on O? The situation is very intimidating and negativity impacting our block which is bordered by three schools, including Dunbar High, Friendship Elementary and Mundo Verde Charter.   

I dream of creating an outdoor museum of murals and public art in the O Street, Hanover, Truxton Circle area to help heal our block and boost the economy of the North Capitol corridor, like we have done in Shaw’s Blagden Alley with my “LOVE” mural and our DC Alley Museum project. Although we on O Street feel frustrated and unsafe at this moment. The artists and creatives at 52 O have been discussing hosting an Open Studio building wide event on September 15th, but with these concerns we are considering cancelling the event. Can you help us with this situation so that we may continue to host our community events and run our creative businesses where many things are made in DC? 

Thank you all for your attention to this matter and for your service.  Please share your love for our city with the unit block of O Street NW – we really need the support. Mayor Bowser, I look forward to seeing you at your 33rd Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards ceremony this September. Thank you for your invitation on behalf of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to participate as a presenter in the category of Excellence in the Visual Arts. It is an honor to be involved in the ceremony. My intention is to help empower people and our city to grow and prosper through communication, collaboration, and color.  

With respect and concern for the safety of our city and community, 

Lisa Marie Thalhammer 

Lisa Marie Thalhammer



Art Portfolio / Instagram  

Celebrate “LOVE” – The mural’s one year anniversary archival pigment prints are now available for pre-order!

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