DC-area organizations call for ‘No homicides for the holidays’

Families and grassroots organizations have a simple — and stark — wish this Christmas season: stop gun violence.

At an event announcing an effort called “No homicides for the holidays,” groups from D.C. and Prince George’s County pressed the media to help deliver their message while continuing their own work to prevent violence.

David Crocker with Positive Change Youth Organization said the effort is truly grassroots.

“We’re putting flyers up in stores, barbershops, job sites. We’re going out in the community just to push the idea and thoughts of ‘No homicides for the holidays,” said Crocker.

Kenny Barnes, founder of Root Incorporated, a group devoted to helping families affected by gun violence, knows first-hand the pain of that kind of loss. His own son was killed in 2001 and now, Barnes said, “Gun violence is rampant in D.C.

“We’re sitting in a situation where it looks like nothing has changed and nobody’s learned anything,” he said.

Barnes’ frustration is palpable, and part of it is directed at the news media that he says pays far more attention to murders in neighborhoods like Georgetown than in neighborhoods where a majority of residents are Black and disadvantaged.

“This cannot continue,” he said during the news conference where reporters from only two news outlets, including WTOP, were present. He told the reporters that news outlets cannot ignore “our children being murdered.”

Raymond Bell, founder of Project Hope, a job training program that partners with D.C.’s Department of Employment Services said the emphasis has to be on attacking problems that lead to violence-including poverty.

“Poverty and crime go together. It’s as simple as that” said Bell. “For some reason we want to make it seem like the answer is so hard to find. You know, the answer is right there in front of us,” Bell said.

His answer is jobs, which pays $50,000 and up.

“In 2023, we’re going to train, coach and mentor 500 young people between the ages of 18 and 29 years old,” and get them prepared for jobs ranging from IT, to security to jobs that require commercial driver’s licenses, Bell said.

Noting the challenges of quelling violence even as shootings were reported in the District and Prince George’s County Thursday morning, organizers said their effort would continue with ongoing outreach one person at a time.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up