DC council member calls for state of emergency to address shootings

There were nearly 200 homicides in D.C. last year, the most since 2004. And there has been more violence in the first month of 2021, according to police statistics.

“Last year, we had 920 people shot in the District of Columbia, and I haven’t seen a strategy yet. In the last four days we had eight kids shot in our community, and I haven’t seen a strategy yet,” Ward 8 Council member Trayon White said at a Friday news conference.

White said one of the young people shot in recent days was an 8-year-old girl, who was hit in the back. “What the hell is happening to our babies in our community?” White said.

White is demanding that Mayor Muriel Bowser immediately declare a citywide state of emergency to address the epidemic of shootings and killings.

He also wants Bowser to quickly name a Mayor’s Commission to Address Gun Violence that will take a community-led, comprehensive approach and make recommendations within 30 days.

White’s call comes one day after the mayor named the city’s first-ever Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator.

When asked about Bowser’s new coordinator position, White said bureaucrats alone can’t solve the gun violence problem.

“At nighttime, these individuals go home,” White said. “We’re still here, hearing AK-47s going off all night long. The reality is you cannot depend on politicians, mayors (and) the police department to heal our community.”

Meanwhile, White said his office will work to create a comprehensive public safety strategy for Ward 8. He plans to host a series of meetings over the next three months to get input from members of government, police and the community.

White is inviting anyone who would like to help to join his annual community budget meeting. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3 on Zoom and Facebook Live.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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