A pair of business owners in Adams Morgan are expressing concern about repeated issues in the area that are coming between them and their dream, starting with an arson at their cafe.
The entrance to D Light Cafe & Bakery is now charred, and you don’t have to be a trained investigator to see that a fire was started there.
Arson investigators were called to the business early in the morning of Jan. 27, after fire crews responded to a 911 call.
A man was caught on surveillance video lighting Valentine’s Day decorations, turning flowers to flames that scorched the business’ facade as well as the dreams of sisters and co-owners Vira and Anastasiia Derun, just three months into those dreams becoming a reality.
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“He’s standing, he just – he makes fun of it. He laughs, he enjoys,” Vira Derun said of the security footage.
Police arrested a man identified by numerous officers who patrol the area. The suspect was known to other merchants, too.
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“The knife into the heart,” Anastasiia Derun said. “It was tough, because we didn’t really realize what we had done wrong.”
One of those merchants told Anastasiia Derun about a previous encounter with that same man. The story speaks to some of the challenges of an otherwise prime location.
“We live in a city, so it’s city life, but city life doesn’t include harassment or crimes. It shouldn’t,” ANC commissioner Peter Wood said.
Knowing there’s been an arrest is some comfort to business owners in the area, but they more or less agree that it’s not the final answer.
That, Wood said, is the hard part.
“To find solutions that are sustainable and that it’s not just about trying to put people behind bars to try to make us feel safe, temporarily,” he said. “It might come from legislative ways to work with small businesses so that they have the support they need. It might come from a lot more social outreach. It might even come from fire department, and police and medics.”
Wood added that it’ll take flexibility and creativity to keep more dreams from going up in smoke.