600 Block of H Street NW, August 25
600 Block of H Street NW, August 25

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If the D.C. Council approves a bill introduced on Tuesday by Ward 1’s Brianne Nadeau, the District would create a task force to study ways of reducing street harassment throughout the city.

Nadeau’s legislation follows a public roundtable she organized and held in December, where witnesses testified about their experiences of being catcalled, cursed at, and approached while going about their business. The bill states the task force would be spearheaded by the D.C. Office on Human Rights and made up of representatives from several other city agencies as well as from community-based organizations. These members would prepare a report within a year on the possible collection of data on the prevalence of street harassment, strategies to address it in “high-risk areas,” bystander intervention training, and potential statutory changes. Still, Nadeau said the goal of the report is not to lock harassers up.

“We need to create this change while being sensitive to the fact that young people, members of the LGBTQ community, people from communities of color, and people from low-income communities experience more frequent and severe harassment,” she said in a statement. “Any solution to the problem shouldn’t be an excuse to disproportionately target those same communities through criminalization.”

Councilmembers Charles AllenAnita Bonds, David Grosso, and LuRuby May cosponsored the bill. Nadeau’s task force wasn’t the only one proposed before the Council on Tuesday, however: At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange proposed one to study the feasibility of implementing and increasing access to free Wi-Fi across the District.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery