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The New, Black-Owned Thurst Lounge Is A ‘Love Letter To DC’s Black Queer Community’ – Blavity

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The New, Black-Owned Thurst Lounge Is A ‘Love Letter To DC’s Black Queer Community’ – Blavity


On Dec. 2, Brandon Burke and Shaun Mykals will open the doors of Thurst Lounge, the only Black-owned lounge in the area since the 2021 closing of the beloved club The Bachelor’s Mill, dubbed “The Mill” by many frequenters, according to a press release provided to Blavity.

The creators of the establishment believed it was time to have a location that welcomes all in addition to being a comfortable space for the Black gay community.

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“Since the start of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in Black and brown people wanting spaces that center us as their target audience,” co-owner Brandon Burke said per the press release.

“And as we’ve seen spaces like Lambda Lounge and 4West open in New York City, people have been questioning why we don’t have at least one black-owned LGTBQ+ space in DC,” co-owner Shaun Mykals added.

Some of the places that were once the threshold of the Black LGBTQ+ community like Nob Hill, Culture Club, Lace on The Avenue and “The Mill” were hubs that offered welcoming environments that allowed Black and brown people a place to “be their authentic selves at a time when being queer was not as widely accepted.”

With those environments no longer in business, Burke and Mykals are excited to fill in the gaps and bring what they feel the DMV area is missing.

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“Thurst is our love letter to DC’s Black queer community. We wanted to create a space that represents and honors the unique and culturally rich black gay experience. As a community, we deserve so much more than just special nights or events at spaces that do not center our experience,” the two said in a joint statement.

They’ve worked in the club scene for some time now with a recognized event known as “Thursday Bliss: An Open Mic Experience,” which has been consistent for 11 years. Despite it created being for everybody in mind, the LGBTQ+ community has been the main demographic.

It wasn’t easy for the entrepreneurs to make it to this point though. The duo was met with several challenges pertaining to “money and experience” that caused them to revise their strategy along the way. They decided to partner with Mosab Salih and Doaa Aloori, who own multiple commercial real estate properties, where the two hosted some of their events. They are thrilled to see their vision now become a reality.

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“We are overjoyed that our vision is finally coming to fruition,” Burke said.

“It’s been a long road, but we look forward to the many opportunities we believe this venture will bring to our community,” Mykals added.

Thurst Lounge is located at 2204 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009. More details about the grand opening will be shared soon, so be sure to keep an eye on the company’s website to stay in the know!





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Washington, D.C

Girls, 13 and 15, charged in death of Northwest Washington man last fall

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Girls, 13 and 15, charged in death of Northwest Washington man last fall


D.C. police late Thursday announced the arrest of two teenage girls in connection with the fatal beating of an elderly disabled man as he took an evening walk in Northwest Washington in October.

Police charged the girls, 13 and 15, both of Northwest Washington, with second-degree murder in connection with the brutal beating of 64-year-old Reginald “Reggie” Brown on Oct. 17.

Both teens were charged as juveniles and were not identified by the police in a news release. The Washington Post generally does not identify suspects in criminal cases who are charged as juveniles.

The two girls are expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Friday for their initial hearing.

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Prosecutors say the two teens were among a group of girls who approached Brown in the 6200 block of Georgia Avenue NW early Oct. 17, knocked him to the ground and beat and kicked him, slamming his head into the concrete pavement. D.C. police detectives testified at the March hearings that Brown and his attackers did not know one another.

In March, police charged two 13-year-olds girls and a 12-year-old girl in connection with the beating. The 12-year-old has since turned 13. All three girls — despite efforts by their attorneys at recent hearings in D.C. Superior Court to have them released home to the custody of their parents — have been held in detention by the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services as they await trial.

After their initial hearing, prosecutors upgraded the charges for the three teens to first-degree murder. A trial for the three is scheduled to begin in August.

As the two newly charged teen suspects appear at their initial hearing Friday, down the hall in the same courthouse, the three other teens are scheduled to appear in a pretrial hearing.

At their initial hearings in March, prosecutors played a graphic, minute-long cellphone video clip that showed a group of five girls chasing Brown into a Northwest alley. As Brown tried to climb up a chain link fence, the girls pulled him down and stomped his head into the pavement. They pulled his pants down around his ankles, removed his belt and beat him with it. Then, as Brown lay on the ground in a pool of blood, the girls became jubilant, laughing and chatting. “He’s leaking,” one of the girls cheered, referring to Brown’s bleeding from his head.

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The cellphone video, prosecutors say, was recorded by one of the girls during the attack.

Brown was diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of his sisters said in March at the time of the three initial arrests. Brown, his family said, had lost six fingers to amputation because of lupus, a disease of the immune system. He also experienced chronic blackouts, the sister said. Once, after losing consciousness, he collapsed to the pavement and injured his skull so badly that a surgeon had to put a metal plate in his head.

In recent years, Brown had been diagnosed with cancer, his family said. Brown’s family said he often took long walks at night after hours of chemotherapy. The late-evening walks, his family said, helped him to sleep through the night.



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Online sports betting back in Washington DC after brief pause – Washington Examiner

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Online sports betting back in Washington DC after brief pause – Washington Examiner


Online sports betting in Washington, D.C., returned to customers after a temporary stoppage as companies waited for Mayor Muriel Bowser’s action on the city’s fiscal 2025 budget.

FanDuel paused betting Tuesday, while Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM halted their districtwide betting plans, as they awaited Bowser’s decision on the budget. The mayor returned the budget without a veto or her signature, but the move allowed sports betting to resume in the district.

Under the fiscal 2025 budget, other sports betting operators may operate within the District of Columbia, in addition to the previously lone betting app for the district, FanDuel. As of Wednesday, FanDuel resumed taking bets in Washington.

Caesars Sportsbook announced Wednesday it would begin accepting bets in most of the District of Columbia after previously being limited to the immediate area around Capital One Arena.

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“Expanding access to our mobile sports betting app across the district will only enhance their fan experience, and we look forward to deepening the connection we’ve established with them since our historic opening in 2021,” Caesars Digital President Eric Hession said in a statement. “We’d like to thank Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, Councilmember McDuffie and the D.C. Council for their leadership on sports betting as well as the Office of Lottery and Gaming.”

BetMGM also announced its launch across most of Washington, D.C., after it was limited to the immediate area around Nationals Park.

“After three years of bringing unparalleled, omnichannel experiences to sports fans and supporting the D.C. metropolitan community through our partnership with the Washington Nationals, fans can now bet on their favorite teams with BetMGM across the District with our award-winning mobile app,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said in a statement.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The legalization of sports betting has exploded across the country since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision striking down a federal ban on it. As of July 2024, 38 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of sports betting.

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Officials in Washington, D.C., have been optimistic about the revenue from sports betting since changing partners from GambetDC to FanDuel in April. With the new fiscal budget, sports betting has been expanded beyond only FanDuel.



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DC police chief marks one year on the job by highlighting dropping crime rate – WTOP News

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DC police chief marks one year on the job by highlighting dropping crime rate – WTOP News


WTOP sat down with D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith, who’s marking her first year by touting crime data that shows significant drops in crime so far this year.

Marking her first year as the District’s police chief, Pamela Smith is touting crime data that shows drops in crime so far this year, compared to the same period last year, including declines in the number of homicides, carjackings and robberies.

The chief, who took the helm of the Metropolitan Police Department after 25 years with U.S. Park Police in 2023, said tougher laws, stronger prosecutions and improved police tactics have helped reduce crime.

“When you talk about the numbers — we’re at a 33% reduction in violent crime, we’re at a 38% reduction in robberies, we’re at a 48% reduction in carjackings,” Chief Smith told WTOP.

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When the chief joined the department last year, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council were in the midst of rolling back some criminal justice reforms instituted in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Smith said she’s not sure what to attribute to the rapid increase in crime in the city after 2020

“What I will say is that one of the things that I think has been instrumental is the legislation that’s been passed. … The emergency legislation that was passed, ‘Safer Stronger DC,’ ‘ACT Now,’ and all of those culminated into, what I believe, legislation that helped us drive down crime in the District,” Smith explained.

Holding criminals accountable

Recent laws like “Secure DC” and “Safer, Stronger DC” have, among other things, enhanced penalties for violent crimes and increased the number of people charged with a violent crime that D.C. Superior Court judges are encouraged to keep jailed before trial.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. also stepped up the number of Title 16 charges, in which some juveniles charged with violent crimes are charged as adults.

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D.C. crime data, as of July 17, shows that there have been 98 homicides so far this year, compared to 134 at this time last year — a 26% reduction. Assault with a dangerous weapon is down 27% and motor vehicle thefts are down 34%.

Total crime in D.C. is down 18% compared to the same period last year.

“I think what we’re seeing is a combination of a lot of different things. Individuals are being held accountable, they’re being held in the jails, as opposed to being released to go back out into their community. We’re seeing judges, we’re seeing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Office of Attorney General leveraging prosecution that helps us when it comes to the same individuals committing the same crimes,” she said.

Staffing deficiencies and asking for the public’s help

The Metropolitan Police Department remains understaffed — as do police agencies throughout the region and across the nation — but Smith said D.C. is doing well in comparison to some other agencies.

“We’ve not taken a significant decrease. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen a 30% reduction in our attrition rate. We’ve not seen many people leaving the job or retiring from the job at a rate where we thought it would outpace that. And so that’s a good sign for us. That lets me know that we have members that still want to stay in this profession,” said Smith.

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She said one major step residents, business owners and institutions can take to help reduce crime is to join the CameraConnect D.C. program.

Under the program, video cameras such as Ring cameras, doorbell cameras and private security system cameras are registered with the city so that police know the locations of video cameras that can assist during a public safety threat or after a crime has occurred. The city also offers rebates to residents, businesses, nonprofits and religious institutions for security cameras.

“That is exactly what we need because that really helps us to drive down crime,” Smith said.

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