George Armwood was the last recorded lynching in the state of Maryland. The story of his murder and its shocking aftermath exposed the depth and sinister workings of white supremacy in one of the darkest chapters of American history.
In 1976 D.C. police dressed as cartoon Mafiosos and bought millions in stolen goods from local thieves. They called it "Operation Sting," and soon police across the country were launching "sting operations" of their own. But not everyone was so enamored with the tactic, especially the communities it was being used to target.
From 1920 to 1930, George Cassiday was a bootlegger for Congress. He sold alcohol to four out of every five members during Prohibition, and at one point had an office inside the House Office Building. After his arrest for possessing alcohol, Cassiday told his story in The Washington Post.
While sifting through the virtual archives of some local publications, I came across an incident from 1947 that stood apart. Unlike most news, the event read like a Film Noir. This real-life tale was juicy enough to make headlines for days, suspenseful enough to make me wonder about motives, and hard-boiled enough to speak volumes to the disenchantment of the people involved. So, this article will look a little different from what we usually do at Boundary Stones. Rather than presenting the facts in a linear, scholarly manner, we have decided that this story shines best as a piece of narrative nonfiction. While every sentence is grounded in research, we held off on footnotes to let the story breathe, and took a few creative liberties to bring the characters to life. For variety, my dear reader, is the spice of life…
In the mid nineteenth-century, one-third (or more!) of all U.S. currency was counterfeit. The banking system was broken and every private bank issued unique paper bills. By the 1860s, the government had to take action: currency became nationally standardized and the Secret Service was born.
In 1987, a convicted murderer from Massachusetts was apprehended in Prince George's County after a short police chase. His arrest would set off a chain of events that would become the hot button issue of the 1988 presidential campaign.
The year was 1993. Spring had come to Washington and the cherry blossoms were blooming, but residents of Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights were on edge. For over a month, a gunman had been on the loose in their neighborhood, targeting pedestrians with a pump action shotgun. By the middle of April, the assailant – who was dubbed the “Shotgun Stalker” by local media outlets – had been linked to nine shootings, three of which were fatal.
Each incident was eerily similar: the stalker cruised the neighborhood in his car after dark, isolated a pedestrian and then fired at the person’s head. But yet it was all so… random. The victims varied in age, sex, ethnicity and occupation – there was no logic. After pulling the trigger the gunman would disappear, seemingly into thin air.
April 15, 1989 – almost “go time.” A joint force of DEA, FBI and D.C. Police officials had spent nearly two years building their case against the District's largest drug network, and a series of coordinated raids had been carefully planned for the next day.
But then rumors began to circulate that word of the impending raids had leaked out onto the streets. Worried that their opportunity would be lost, authorities hurriedly put their plan into action, early.
At 5:30pm, officers arrested Tony Lewis at his home in Arlington. A few hours later, they nabbed the big prize – alleged ring leader Rayful Edmond III – at his girlfriend's house in the 900 block of Jefferson St., NW. With the two biggest targets in custody, officials launched searches at more than a dozen other addresses in the District and Maryland, including Edmond's grandmother's rowhouse at 407 M Street, NE, which was thought to be the headquarters of the operation.