There have been a number of shootings lately in Shaw. This has touched off a lot of worries on the part of community leaders that a gang war has started up. Councilmember Jim Graham dashed off a letter to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and others concerning these recent events.
Read the letter after the jump.
Police report to me there have been up to 8 different incidents since Sunday involving 2 well know gangs in the Shaw neighborhood. As reported on this listserve and confirmed by police, these shots are being fired in the vicinity of 7th and o and 8th and S. Up until Wednesday, no one was hit. On Wednesday, a person was grazed on the side of his head. He is hospitalized. But he is also under arrest for possession of a large quantity of cocaine.
The feud between these two gangs has been going on for decades. Most of the feuds between gangs in the District have been going on for a long time. MPD and specialized gang units within MPD know who these guys are. MPD works hard in making arrests. But more needs to be done. The violence needs to stop.
The feud between these particular groups, which happen to be based in two different Wards of the city, reinforces the argument I have repeatedly made. We need a CITYWIDE strategy on gang intervention. Gang violence crosses ward and MPD District boundaries. And so should our law enforcement efforts and intervention programs.
I have been at the forefront of fighting gang and crew violence for the entire 11 years on the Council. I have sponsored bills for increased law enforcement powers and authored funding for targeted, community based intervention and prevention programs. In 2003 I helped Chief Ramsey form the very successful Gang Intervention Partnership. Over the last three years, I have authored approximately $2.5 million in funding to establish and sustain the Citywide Coordinating Council on Youth Violence Prevention (CCCYVP).
In June, Chairman Gray and Councilmember Mendelson joined me in presenting the Blueprint for Action: Responding to Gang and Crew Violence. The Council has already passed the first 2 recommendations of the Blueprint as part of the Omnibus Crime Bill. The Mayor is required to form a working group of MPD officials, CCCYVP and key government agencies to coordinate targeted and sustained interventions of enforcement powers and prevention resources in areas where we have seen the most gang violence.
I am also convinced law enforcement officials need additional tools to target the most active and potentially violent gang members. On two different occasions in June, 2009 I fought for civil gang injunctions. Mayor Fenty and Councilmembers Bowser, Catania, Evans and I understand how gang and crew members’ feuds not only endanger the lives of gang and crew members, but all of our lives. We understand how gangs and crew member intimidate and sometimes claim to “own” certain blocks, recreation centers, corner stores, schools. The Council voted down both bills. We need to give the MPD Gang Fusion Unit the tools to put gang members on notice.
I am committed to doing all I can to make sure this violence stops.
Councilmember Jim Graham”