For the first time since 1979, the future of the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program was in doubt after Sharon Pratt Dixon took the helm for a disgraced Marion Barry in 1991. One of Pratt Dixon's main political objectives was to tackle the enormous budget deficit left in Marion Barry's wake. The Summer Youth Employment Program was one of the first programs to be slashed from the budget which meant, for the first time since 1979, young Washingtonians seeking jobs through the program were not guaranteed a slot. Sensing the tension around the budget cuts, Dixon appealed to the business community to help fill the void, effectively gambling with what might be considered Marion Barry's signature program.
Angry mobs clashing with police… Looting… Flames…. It was a scene out of the 1968 riots. But this was a different time and place. The year was 1991 and D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood was boiling over.
The firestorm started at around 7pm on the evening of May 5. Angela Jewell and Girsel Del Valle, rookie cops from the Metropolitan Police Department’s 4th District, were out on patrol in the neighborhood. They approached a group of men who appeared to be drinking in public at 17th and Lamont Streets, NW. Angry words were exchanged and the men supposedly became disorderly. The officers began to make arrests.