In the Spring of 1965, The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology published a work on the threat of the Nation of Islam (NOI) to the police. A summary of the NOI of Islam beliefs was given. The religion centers on the idea that the ruling white man is destined for a fall. The members do see whites as the devil, but G-d has predetermined the end of the white man’s rule. Blacks are to separate and become an independent state before the fall to avoid catastrophe. So the movement has no reason to attack the police directly. The NOI was deemed not to be a direct threat to the police as a whole. The security/militia force Fruit of Islam (FOI) my resist police in small incidence, but there was no rebellion planned.
The reputation of the Fruit of Islam grows from the 1960s to the 1980s and residents at the Mayfair Mansions take notice. Violence and the drug trade had enveloped the community that was now nicknamed “Little Beiruit.” The Nation of Islam begins selling their paper in the complex and residents notice the drug dealers leave while the NOI was present. A group of concerned citizens asked the Nation of Islam to patrol the area to stop drug dealers. Abdul Alim Muhammad, leader of DC’s Mosque #4, agreed and the “Dopebusters” were born in 1988.
Police Chief, Maurice Turner, reluctantly agrees to work with the NOI Drug Patrols. The story of the Dopebusters drew national attention and continued violence at the Mayfair would draw negative attention to the city. Council members and many constituents in the Mayfair publically supported the effort. Turner decided that the NOI would only patrol and call authorities when they saw something. The guards were not to use any violence.
The problem in District 6, which included the Mayfair, was a small police presence. They had 235 officers patrolling the district, which led to the smallest ratio of officers to residents.  Because of increased attention from media, the chief agreed to concentrate his force at the Mayfair. So those that used to deal at the Mayfair moved to neighboring housing projects. The citizens at the Mayfair were grateful to have peace in their neighborhood, and they praised the guards for granting them peace. The NOI was allowed to fly their flag over the projects, as the Islamic Caliphs did in the old days. 
On April 19, 1988, a man with a shotgun confronted an NOI guard. The guard disarms the man by kicking the gun out of his hand. Ten men proceed to beat the man unconscious. An NBC news team catches the melee on film. The guards see that they are being recorded and began to attack the cameraman to ensure the footage is not aired on television. One of the guards was arrested along with the man that welded the shotgun. The story made headlines and Mosque #4 had to issue an apology. Residents of the Mayfair picketed in support of the guards. 
Dr. Alim Muhammad gave a press conference on April 30, 1988. Accompanying him were hundreds of supporters of the Nation of Islam patrols. In the speech, Alim Muhammad chastised the media in elevating the one instance of overreach, and not the fact they ended open-air drug sales in less than a month. He invites Christians, Jews, and fellow Muslims to join in the Patrols because they would soon expand to Paradise Manor. The most inflammatory aspect of the speech was the accusation that many police were involved in drug sales. This accusation that could not be proven hurt the ability of the security forces to work with the police.
The beating of a news crew was not the only instance of overreach. An apartment building manager accused the guards of attempting to extort $5,000 from her company. However, the NOI guards would find other ways to finance their patrol in the way of government contracts.
The success from Mayfair made FOI guards a hot commodity in many low-income housing areas. The NOI Security Agency – Washington was incorporated in 1990 to win government contracts in security. In the same manner, other NOI security agencies emerged in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The DC agency expanded its patrol to Clifton Terrace and Potomac Gardens.
The Clifton Terrace Patrols began in May of 1992. Most of the residents supported the new patrols. However, there was also vocal opposition. A group of men threatened the guards with violence on May 5. In response, a guard allegedly attacked resident James Earl Keech. Later that day, the unarmed guards encountered gunfire. Police were slow to arrive but arrested Taino M. Granum who had a stolen gun on his person. The event shows how cooperation between police and the guards began to break down. Both sides gave different accounts to the police. The public housing authority ended the security contract a short time later.
The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) both took issue with an anti-semitic group getting government contracts. The ADL published a report in 1995 detailing contract discrepancies in the NOI security contracts. The ADL claimed that the NOI security agencies were directly connected to the NOI. Most of the evidence in the report came from the NOI newsletter, <u>The Final Call</u>. In the paper, the NOI praises the work of the security agencies as a victory for the Nation of Islam as a whole.
The report sparked outrage from the public. Bob Dole and Peter King, both Republicans, launch a senate investigation. If the security firm violated procurement law, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would have to terminate the contracts. Peter King wanted the NOI listed as a hate group even though the American Civil Liberties Union did not list them as such.
HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros defended the decision to award NOI security firms contracts. Many members of The Congressional Black Caucus also supported the NOI effort. The firms were not legally linked to the Nation of Islam religious organization, and to Cisneros’ knowledge, the guards did not proselytize on duty. Therefore to deny them contracts would be religious discrimination. It is important to remember the Republicans had recently won both houses.
The six-week investigation concluded in March of 1995. There was no evidence of large-scale proselytizing while guards were on duty and the investigation confirmed the security firms were not linked to the Nation of Islam. There was also no evidence that the firms discriminated against non-Muslims or women. Most of the interviews with residents of the areas the security firms patrolled said the guards are more courteous than other private guards. Residents, white and black, both agreed their neighborhoods were markedly safer.
After the investigation Nation of Islam security wins a contract to patrol Potomac Gardens. The original contract was awarded under emergency conditions for two weeks at $30,000. Again most residences wanted the guards, but there was also strong opposition. One woman interviewed by the Washington Post said that she shielded a man from an NOI beating. The guards yelled “Black Power, Black Power” after the incident. 
On May 12, 1995 NOI guard James Baldwin was allegedly stabbed in the chest by resident Paul Sparks. The event was the third violent event during the two weeks Potomac Gardens had a patrol. Earlier an NOI guard was struck with a bottle. The guards retaliate by assaulting a resident suspected of throwing the bottle. The incidents sparked City Council to visit the project.
During the visit Councilman Frank Smith had this to say:
“There’s no question about the fact that the people who live over there see this as a form of relief from the drug sales…The sale of drugs around public housing complexes is ultimately a police problem, and it will not be solved in a lasting way at Potomac Gardens or anywhere else until a new police division responsible for public housing is created”.
After the City Council visited they decide to extend the emergency contract another two weeks. The guards did stop open-air drug sales, even with a few instances of over-reach. By June 6, the emergency contract would end and the NOI would need to win the contact under normal bidding circumstances. Unfortunately, the Nation of Islam Security Agency flies for bankruptcy protection in June of 1995. The firm claims $620,000 in assets and $760,000 in liabilities. Of the liabilities, $53,000 was back taxes to Washington, DC. The DC Housing Authority had to take into account NOI Security’s financial state during the contract bid, and they lost their bid.
The Potomac Garden patrol was taken up by off-duty police officers. The officers were paid overtime with the same Federal funds that would have been used for the private guards. Ultimately, the responsibility for reducing crime fell back on the police. With increased police presence, the crime problem in Washington, DC subsided.