202 area code? DC wants to know what you’re doing to prevent gun violence

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser described 202 for Peace as a “summerlong, citywide gun violence awareness campaign.” (WTOP/Kristi King)

How do you get people to put down guns to end violence and killings? D.C. hopes music that’s part of its 202 for Peace campaign can help.

“Music is very hypnotic,” said Dana McDaniel, deputy director of community programming at D.C.’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.

“I too, am a musician. And I understand how hertz work and how other rhythms and frequencies work in music and how music can subliminally impact behavior, how those lyrics really sink into the subconscious of our minds and drive a lot of our emotional reactions to things that we experience,” she said.

Talking about one of the songs written for the campaign performed by a D.C. rapper: “What I love most about Shoot for the Stars is how he says, ‘Put down the guns and shoot for the stars,’ and that song is mostly speaking about tapping into your gifts, tapping into your inner talents,” McDaniel said.

She believes promoting positive music might help prevent people from lashing out over trivial things.

“So as our Black and brown individuals are interacting in communities, their subconscious has feelings of love, camaraderie and community, not anger and violence,” she said.

At a news conference promoting the 202 for Peace campaign, the director of D.C.’s Gun Violence Prevention Office told those assembled that the government cannot solve gun violence alone.

“No one is winning, we are all hurting,” said Office of Gun Violence Reduction Director Linda Harllee Harper. “It is going to take each and every one of us to bring our gifts, our talents to this effort to prevent gun violence in our city.”

Harper emphasized that the campaign should involve effort on everyone’s part to support folks at risk of committing violence. This includes engaging with community organizations, faith groups and violence interrupters — it means getting involved.

“We know that it will take each and every one of us — I keep saying that. Because very often, what I hear is finger pointing. And you have to point the finger back at you as well. What are you doing to make sure that we have no more homicides in our city?” she asked.

The 202 for Peace campaign is holding a gun violence awareness community event from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at RFK skate park.

“We’ll have food, entertainment, resources … and over one dozen District government agencies and community-based organizations,” said Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement Interim Director Delano Hunter. “So if you’ve been on the sidelines, you want to do something about gun violence that’s plaguing our community — consider this your call to action.”

Asking people to check out the campaign’s website, Hunter said people can request assistance for getting a local project or event off the ground and they can submit a virtual memorial in honor of a loved one lost to violence.

“You’ll be able to find out about community events that are happening in your area, including our gun violence awareness community event,” he said.

LISTEN: Rojay Ball, a former Pathways Ambassador, performs the peace campaign song “Shoot For The Stars.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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