Two weeks ago, the D.C. Council engaged in a knock-down fight over anti-crime legislation—-in particular, over so-called ‘civil gang injunctions.’ They were at it again today, rehashing the debate regarding the permanent version of the bill. But the outcome was much the same.
A compromise of sorts was in the works today: Councilmembers Jim Graham, Jack Evans, and Muriel Bowser, all supporters of the gang injunctions, proposed allowing the measures for six months in their own wards—-1, 2, and 4, respectively.
That proposal didn’t get very far with their colleagues.
“We cannot have a tale of two cities,” said Harry Thomas Jr., who alluded to ‘Jim Crow laws’ in his comments on the debate.
At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson called it “a very convoluted approach to crime-fighting.”
Ward 6’s Tommy Wells reversed his earlier vote against gang injunctions to vote for them here (though he didn’t endorse them to the point that he added Ward 6 to the compromise amendment): “There’s a lot of ideology, there’s a lot hyperbole…but I think it’s a rational act for the council to do this and I think it’s in the best interest of children.”
In any case, the council voted the ward-only approach down, 5 to 8.
On the final, permanent crime bill, it passed 10 to 3—-without the support of hardliner Jack Evans. “Unfortunately the bill before us is not the bill I had hoped,” he said, recounting that a cop he had spoken to had described the final bill as “the criminal protection act.” Bowser and David Catania joined him in a protest vote.
At last: Let the grandstanding end!