Tragedy struck the annual “Moechella” festival in Washington, DC, last weekend when gunshots ricocheted through the crowd in the city’s U Street neighborhood, killing one teen and wounding three others.
DC police have identified the teen who was killed as Northwest resident 15 year-old Chase Poole, a seventh-grader at Brookland Middle School.
People who knew Poole told the Washington Post that he was a “beautiful child who became instantly popular among his classmates but battled negative influences.”
In February, Poole was shot in the leg, which prompted his mother to enroll him in Brookland Middle School to get him into a healthier environment.
Officials anonymously told the Washington Post that police said Poole had a weapon on him at the time of his death. However, no one has publicly confirmed this information.
“Before you judge him, that he had a gun — he was a baby who was loved, cared about, who had a mother who was trying her best to try a combination of things to put her son on the right track,” Wendy Hamilton, Poole’s school counselor told the Washington Post. “It may have been too late, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.”
The tragedy has also brought unwanted attention to the protest festival, which started in 2019 after gentrifiers in DC’s U Street corridor tried to stop local businesses from playing go-go music.
Moechella organizers condemned the violence on Saturday night, saying in an Instagram post, “Moechella is the symbol of black culture in dc and is built on the foundation of peace.”
The police union said “reactionary implementation of police ‘reform’ measures the consequences of which were not properly considered,” were at least partially to blame for the shooting, according to WTOP.
DC council member Janeese Lewis George, who won in DC’s ward 4 on a defund the police platform, hit back against police claims on her twitter account.
“Moechella has been a celebration of music and DC culture for years,” wrote Lewis George on Twitter. “It’s clear this event had government sponsorship and government resources, including a heavy [police] presence. The way some people are talking about this event as unauthorized shows how little they know about DC.”
Regardless of who is at fault for the shooting, Poole’s community remains in mourning.
“At some point and time, we have to say enough is enough,” neighborhood advocate Ty Hobson-Powell, told WUSA 9. “It’s not enough to wax poetic about what police do to Breonna Taylor, or about what happened to George Floyd if we don’t also have the same level of care and concern for what’s going on in our communities.”