Ward 8 Council member Trayon White held a press conference Friday on the routine instances of violence in his community, a situation he labeled as a state of emergency.
At the news conference, White unveiled his “Red Ribbon Cease-Fire” plan, which will be released in its entirety as a 42-page report that calls for partnerships between a variety of organizations in the District including schools, faith-based institutions and businesses.
“There has been an ongoing narrative that crime is going down [in the District], but from what I see on a continual basis, crime is not down,” White said.
He said that he spent seven consecutive days at the scene of violent crimes in his community and called on his colleagues within the D.C. government to acknowledge the issue of violent crime and to make substantial investments in critical response interventions.
Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, whose own ward has been dealing with similar issues, agreed and called violent crime in the city a “crisis.”
He said the city should use every resource at its disposal “to prevent the constant gun violence.”
“Kids should not have to live in a constant state of emergency,” McDuffie said. “They shouldn’t have to fear playing on the playground, going to the basketball court, being around [recreation] centers, hearing gunshots routinely. That’s not an ordinary way of life and it shouldn’t be the expectation of anyone in our city.”
Last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city administrators announced the launch of the Safer Stronger D.C. Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE).
Created under McDuffie’s NEAR ACT, which seeks to take a public health approach to addressing violent crime, the office will coordinate the city’s overall violence prevention strategies.
“Improving public safety requires more than just the police,” Bowser said. “Violence prevention requires everyone’s support — families, community and faith-based organizations, and government agencies. With this office, we will be removing barriers to opportunity, directly engaging some of our hardest to reach and most at-risk residents, and connecting more residents to the services they need to thrive.”
White said he will work with the ONSE to bring more resources to his community. At the beginning of his term, he requested $3.2 million in the budget to address violent crime in Ward 8, but was instead given $750,000 to support community organizations.
“We talk a lot about building developments, but little about people development,” he said.
White said victims of violent crime are getting younger and that he wants to leave the youth in the ward “without excuse” for doing the right thing as he seeks to bring employment and social services to the community.
Sharece Crawford, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for Congress Heights, said she has lost track of the number of shootings in the area and called for more employment and social services.
“We need [mobile] health and human services permanently located in certain locations, one of them being in my area, Congress Heights,” Crawford said.