Metropolitan Police mounted a major crackdown on underage drinking this weekend, arresting almost 70 area students for alcohol-related crimes. At least 11 GW students were among those caught around the city Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Marshall’s Bar & Grille, at 2524 L St., was one of the first establishments raided by MPD. Just after midnight Friday morning, police entered the bar checking for underage drinkers, witnesses said. Police on the scene confirmed that seven GW students were arrested for underage drinking.
Manager Ulysses Covington said he checked IDs of all patrons he served alcohol to but did not serve the individuals police arrested. The bartender who served the students declined to comment.
“If (patrons) are under 21 and not drinking, they could sit and eat or hang out,” Covington said.
Despite assurances that IDs were properly checked, numerous patrons in the bar confirmed that their IDs had not been checked.
“We were hoping they would ask us for ID, but they didn’t,” said senior Adam Coyle, who was in the bar at the time of the bust. “Some kids, that should have, left because they saw the cops. The other kids just stared. There was a time when you could have escaped if you wanted to.”
Other patrons expressed similar concerns about how well drinkers’ ages were checked.
“The staff of the bar was not really checking IDs here before the cops came in,” said Tamara Gonzalez, a former GW student who witnessed the bust. “(The police) came in and took out everyone, and then the place emptied out pretty quickly.”
Fifteen people remained in the bar after the raid.
“In the past few months we’ve been getting younger students, so that’s why we’ve been carding,” Covington said. “We’re very careful about who we serve.”
Police said they were aware that students were returning to campus last weekend, and sources side the department said raids this weekend were aimed at deterrence.
“We have a lot of problems at the opening week of school,” MPD Officer George Rusnak said. “Students are in the city for the first time ever or just returning from summer break and they can get a bit out of control.”
Rusnak said more than 20 people were arrested for underage drinking Friday in MPD’s second district, which encompasses Georgetown University and GW.
“It is important to set the tone for the year,” MPD Officer Ben Fetting said.
In addition to arrests made at bars and clubs, police also carried out sting operations at local liquor stores. Police sources said at least 10 students were arrested outside Tokay Liquors, Riverside Liquors and
Foggy Bottom Grocery Friday and Saturday.
“It’s too bad when something like this happens so early in the year,” said Rico Orlando, a University of Maryland junior who witnessed the arrests at Marshall’s. “Students around here just should know not to be so brazen when they know police will be paying attention. It’s just common sense.”
Fetting said students often don’t understand the implications of widespread underage drinking for local communities. He said students often disturb the peace with incidents of destruction of property and public urination.
“I care about these kids that we are dealing with,” said Rusnak. “But we can’t control their lives.”