The Shaw Neighborhood Rallies Behind #DONTMUTEDC

By Aminah Cole Senior, Bishop McNamara High School, Forestville, MD | Winter/Spring 2019

The Metro PCS at the corner of 7th & Florida Ave. N.W. is at the center of the #DONTMUTEDC protests this spring.


Chocolate City is melting at the center of its core in the historic Shaw neighborhood, a community where African-Americans lived, celebrated and learned for the past 19 centuries. In early April, a Metro PCS store, located on the corner of Florida Ave. and 7th St. N.W., known for playing go-go music from its outdoor speakers, was involved in a dispute with noise complaints from some residents of The Shay, a luxury apartment building less than 500 feet away.

Residents of The Shay called the music a “nuisance” and that they needed to turn the music down. After the first dispute, the Shay residents contacted the parent company T-Mobile who forced the Metro PCS owner to turn down the music.

Once word spread regarding the silenced corner of the neighborhood, Howard University student, Julien Broomfield created the hashtag, #DONTMUTEDC. The hashtag received a lot of attention and trended locally on twitter. Today, the hashtag is the slogan of a campaign that is fighting to keep the cultural sanctity of D.C.

After complaints swelled  from the community, T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, allowed Metro PCS to resume playing the music. “We’re trying to make this a landmark, “ said Mike Johnson Johnson, an employee of Metro PCS, speaking about the efforts being made to protect the location and the permission to play go-go music outside of the store.

Ronald Magbie, George H. McClain and Ricky Powell, sit outside the Gregg’s barber shop on 7th Street, right next door to the Metro PCS store. All of them expressed their passionate views about cultural gentrification and traditional music of the city neighborhood. |  Juliet Beverly


Recent reports from the NCRC (National Community Reinvestment Coalition), “Washington, D.C was named the most gentrified city by percentage of eligible neighborhoods that experienced gentrification.” D.C. natives have expressed concerns, citing a received  political agenda move to rid the District of Columbia of African-American residents. Gentrification is a common process in many urban areas, but for the Shaw neighborhood residents, the changes present a cruel irony in a space that is registered as a historical African-American landmark. “Without the original culture aspects, D.C. wouldn’t be the same,”  Magbie said. “The music represents our heritage…It’s who we are.”

Council Woman of Ward 1, Brianne Nadeau tweeted on April 8: “Go-go is a blend of funk, hip hop, Latin, and other genres that emerged in the 60s and 70s. It is a unique product of D.C. and its Black residents. To this day, it is the indisputable sound of DC and its suburbs.” This demonstrations of support from native, long-term residents, non-natives, and people in far-reaching suburbs has continued via #DONTMUTEDC — popup rallies have occurred in the Shaw neighborhood and U Street corridor over the spring playing go-go for all to hear — the sound of a city in the middle of re-molding.  

Representatives from The Shay’s management could not be reached for comment.


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.