- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2006

An annual Father’s Day parade in Southeast had just ended and a picnic was in full swing yesterday, but something else was on Calvin Woodland Jr.’s mind — the recent shooting death of a 13-year-old boy.

Amid marching bands, Sno-cones, cotton candy and about 100 picnickers at Fort Stanton Park, Mr. Woodland lamented the loss of Deangelo William Borras, who was fatally shot Wednesday near his home on Irvington Street in Southwest.

Such instances are far too frequent in the District, Mr. Woodland said.

“It was a confirmation of why we need to continue to do what we’re doing and the importance of the message,” Mr. Woodland said. “And it’s amazing, that’s not unique in this city.”

Mr. Woodland is president of the Calvin Woodland Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit group aimed at stopping violence. His and other community groups have held the parade and picnic for the past five years to call for a moratorium on murder in the region.

For the past several years, Mr. Woodland has headed the foundation, which his deceased father, Calvin Sr., began more than 30 years ago.

“We believe there’s a direct link between the murder rate, drugs and crime in this area and a lack of fatherhood in the homes,” he said. “Even where there’s fathers physically present, there’s no parenting.

“In neighborhoods like this, where there’s low income and they’re all clamored together in clusters of project buildings, it breeds crime, addiction, alcoholism,” he said. “We know that these kids, without mentors and role models, there’s really no chance for them.”

D.C. Council member Marion Barry participated in the parade and briefly addressed the crowd afterward, leading them in a chant of “Stop the violence, love our young people.”

“Everyday, there’s something going involving a handgun,” said Mr. Barry, Ward 8 Democrat. “We’ve got to rid our neighborhoods of these guns.”

Kenny Barnes of ROOT (Reaching Out to Others Together Inc.), one of the event’s organizers, commended Mr. Barry for coming.

His son, Kenny Barnes Jr., was killed in 2001 during a robbery at Boutique U, the son’s clothing store in Northwest.

“It’s good to see that we have the support of Mr. Barry,” Mr. Barnes said. “A lot of the times, when you’re attempting positive things, you don’t get the support you deserve.”

As of yesterday, there were 76 homicides in the District this year, including a fatal shooting early yesterday in Southeast.

“We’ve got to stop this violence, put these guns down and stop killing our people,” Mr. Barry said.

Mr. Woodland, a staff member for council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said he himself had been arrested dozens of times and struggled with substance abuse throughout much of his teen and early adult years before getting clean, even as his own father was helping wayward children.

He conceded that helping others has been an uphill climb, but says his own experiences in the street give him not only credibility in the neighborhood, but motivation to lead others down the right path.

“Discouragement is just a reason to get involved,” he said. “That kind of discouragement is good, because it brings you to the fork in the road where you’re either going to do something about it or you’re not. And to walk away now, to me, means that all of the things I’ve experienced was for nothing.”

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