DC

Former Gang Makes Clothes, Gives Back

A former DC gang – known as the source of much violence in the city – is now quite the opposite. The Check It group – is now a positive force in Anacostia, aiming to make a difference in the city they once caused trouble.

For years, the gang “Check It” spent their nights terrorizing the city. “We did a lot of bad things, fight, get in trouble and steal,” says David Frye, one of the founding members.

They were known for the trouble they caused, and the bright colors they wore while doing so. “We already had a sense of fashion because we were known for wearing the craziest colors,” says Frye. “Check It was known for wearing, how they said it, ‘gay colors.'”

They called themselves the ‘Check It’ gang, a group of women and gay youth, many of them homeless. They initially formed in high school as a way to protect themselves from bullies. “We took care of each other,” says Frye.

And after years of violence, something changed within Check It. “That’s the good part,” says Tray Warren, another founding member. “We turned our gang name, which was Check It, into an LLC, now it’s a business.”

On Martin Luther King Jr Avenue in Anacostia, now sits ‘Check It’s new store front. “We all had a sense of fashion, so we just took it from the negative to positive frame,” says Frye. From t-shirts, to a full clothing line, everything is done here. But the space will be so much more than just a clothing store, the group wants to really make a difference in the community. “We want to open it up to be mostly a place where people can come for healing,” says Frye.

It will be a place to help kids just like them. “We were them at one point, we needed that exact same help,” says Frye, who was in the foster care system and then homeless for years. “It’s time for us to help them.”

They’ve got the space, the passion and the ideas, but starting a business is expensive. So now they’re turning to the same community they once wreaked havoc on, and asking them for help. The irony is not lost on the members of Check It. “We know we have done a lot to hurt the community in our times of doing violent things, now we want to give back,” says Frye. “We just ask that if they can help us, we can help others.”

A documentary is also being made about the group – called “Check It.” https://vimeo.com/121316403

If you would like to donate – the best way to do so is on their Go Fund Me page here. https://www.gofundme.com/check-it-building-equipment-fund

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