Where Sugar and Spice Meet Bricks and Bats
Girl Gang Violence Alarms D.C. Officials
By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 28, 2004; Page B01
Neither side recalls exactly what sparked the feud. But more than two years
after fists first flew, dozens of members of two District gangs continue to
clash, swinging baseball bats and slinging bricks at rivals.
Jaws have been broken. Arms slashed. Faces sprayed with mace.
The gang violence is familiar to law enforcement officials, but the type of
player is not. The Knockout Honies and the Most Wanted Honeyz are girl gangs,
the District's largest, with about 200 members between them.
Girl gangs have been on the rise for several years in the District and other
cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, gang experts say. No one
has been killed in girl gang confrontations in the District, but an escalation
of gang-related violence in recent months has officials alarmed about the
possibility, particularly during the city's school holiday break, which
continues through Sunday.
"Everything that is going on in the city is with the girls," said
Bridget Miller, a contractor hired by the D.C. schools as a supervisor with the
Youth Gang Task Force.
Miller, 39, a self-described "former knucklehead," or troublemaker,
from southeastern Virginia, counsels students in the District and Prince
George's County. She said girl gangs have been emerging in the area for six to
seven years. She said there are now at least 35 such gangs in the District,
including the Loony Tunes and Always Been Hated On.
The Knockout Honies and the Most Wanted Honeyz exemplify the challenges facing
officials, as most of their fights occur after school, on street corners and
outside nightclubs and out of sight of adults.
The two groups were formed five to six years ago. Each is a loose collection of
friends and acquaintances who typically live in the same neighborhood or attend
the same schools. Members of the Knockouts live mainly along the 14th Street NW
corridor; Most Wanteds typically live in near Northeast and near Southeast
Like other such groups in the city, the Knockouts and the Most Wanteds did not
consider themselves gangs in the beginning, and even now, the gang label is
generally used only by police and school officials. Widespread violence between
the two groups did not take root until about two years ago, police said.
The Knockouts, Most Wanteds and other D.C. girl gangs are not affiliated with
male gangs, as girl gangs are in some cities, and as far as police know, they
are not typically involved in drug dealing, street robberies or other criminal
acts. The gangs tend to pick only on their rivals, not on others in the
community. Ego is a major motivator, experts said.
Most girl gang members in the District do not seem destined for a life of crime,
experts say. Some are honor-roll students. They band together for camaraderie
and protection and sometimes to explore their sexual identity, members and
"I'm about to be 18. I'm trying to make a future out of my life," said
Shakita McBrayer, a senior at Cardozo Senior High School in the Columbia Heights
neighborhood of Northwest. McBrayer, a member of the Knockouts, who apparently
were given the moniker by a school official and male students at Cardozo, plans
to study social work at Morgan State University in Baltimore next fall.
Dorothy Washington, 18, another of the Knockouts' approximately 75 members,
plans to study business at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania next year. Until
then, the senior at Luke C. Moore Academy High School in Northeast has a simple
response to anyone who would attack her gang.
"We're going to hit them back, no matter what," said Washington, who
otherwise comes across as genial and reserved. "I'm going to squad up and
come back for you."
The talk of violence is not idle. Tiny metal braces jut from the top and
bottom of Washington's mouth. The wires do not straighten her smile, but bind
her jaw together. It was broken this summer, she said, when members of the
X-Rated Hunniez gang "stomped [her] with boots" on a city street.
Other gang members proudly display their "tattoos," or scars, from
fights outside of go-go clubs or sports events.
"Girls want to show their strength. Girls want respect," Miller said.
Neither McBrayer nor Washington has been implicated by officials in any of
the recent attacks.
Rose Gordon, a police detective in Chicago who has investigated many of that
city's 700 gangs during a 29-year career, said girl gangs don't receive much
attention because their violence is rarely lethal.
"Many times our law enforcement doesn't pay any attention to females. They
don't carry a lot of" .357 magnum guns, she said.
Though no one has died in girl gang attacks in the District, police records
contain reports of serious attacks, retaliations and threats:
• On Sept. 17, an 18-year-old was jumped by several gang members who broke her
jaw with a brick on Warder Street NW.
• On Oct. 12, three teenage girls were stabbed during a hallway scuffle at
Shaw Junior High School. A 14-year-old gang member, who police believe is one of
the Knockouts, was arrested.
• On Nov. 23, D.C. police intercepted several dozen girls outside Cardozo.
Police said that the girls were members of the "X-rated/Most Wanted Honiez,"
two groups that are loosely aligned, and that they had ridden a Metrobus there
to start a fight, police said. No one was injured.
• On Dec. 5, two girls were beaten and sprayed with a noxious chemical on U
Street NW, after an altercation at a go-go show. The brawling continued the
following two Sundays, said Inspector Diane Groomes of the 3rd Police District.
• On Dec. 19, a 68-year-old Northwest woman told police that gang members
telephoned her and said, "We're going to put you in a coma." The
woman's granddaughter belongs to a rival gang. The threats allegedly have been
going on for more than a month.
"It's been bad," Groomes said. "It's frustrating, because you
think you have a handle on it, and then bam, they get riled up again."
Officers also have responded to reports of brawls at high school football games,
fights that included bats, belts and bricks, Groomes said. Guns have been drawn
but not fired, gang members said.
Fights often erupt after go-go bands yell "shout-outs" from the stage,
recognizing individual gangs, which can prompt taunts and fisticuffs. Tempers
also are inflamed on Internet chat boards.
On the streets, the teenagers said, they generally won't recognize a rival gang
member, unless a girl spots an attacker who jumped her previously.
"Out of 150 of them, I can't tell but like three of them on the
street," Larazza Miller, 19, a member of the Knockouts, said of the Most
Groomes fears that tensions between gangs could produce a targeted shooting or
random victims. In recent months, 3rd District officers have been getting to
know many members and trying to keep the violence from escalating.
Members of the Knockouts and Most Wanteds say they want peace. And youth gang
workers, D.C. police officers who work at schools and command officials have
tried to negotiate a truce for more than a year, with no success.
"Eventually somebody's going to get [badly] hurt," said Bridget
Miller, the gang task force supervisor. "Unless we come to some kind of
reason, that's what's going to happen."