two hand guns stacked on top of one another
Credit: Darrow Montgomery/file

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After a string of shooting-related deaths last weekend, the District surpassed 100 homicides this year. The current count is 14 percent higher than it was around the same time last year, according to police data, a total of 104 homicides as of Thursday. Yesterday the T.R.I.G.G.E.R. Project, a nonprofit aimed at changing the norms around gun violence, and other community orgs hosted the second annual End Gun Violence Citywide Conference at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library to hear the experiences of residents affected by gun violence and strategize solutions and coping strategies. 

At the conference, emceed by Tia Bell of the T.R.I.G.G.E.R. Project, spoken word, a healing yoga session, and voices of survivors set the tone. In a “Voices of Gun Violence” roundtable facilitated by Leonard Smith of the Sober Living Project, survivor Ashley Prentice said she was hit in her face by a bullet at age 11. Survivors Queen Afi, Chapeale, and Ar’Dinay Blocker talked about the trauma of losing close ones and confronting their own retaliation or losing their way.

Rahim Jenkins, CEO Director of National Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, stressed the power of culture, not just policy, to change gun violence in the District. He stressed the need to hold dialogue about preserving community for and among Black residents instead of catering to “[thugs] with slick words coming out your mouth.”  

“If you’re not talking about respecting Black women and you’re not talking about respecting Black leadership and Black economics, then close your mouth,” said Jenkins. “Get out the way, and young people, you have to stop having these types of conversations … Be the kings and queens that you are destined to be.”

D.C. entrepreneur Jimmie Jenkins spoke about the importance of young Black men seeing positive “images of themselves, and know that it’s possible to make it out.”

Dr. Warees Majeed, of the gun violence prevention organization No Slide Zone, said the same issue kept popping up in conversations with other attendees: the lack of recreation opportunities, particularly for youth in communities disproportionately affected by gun violence. Other attendees emphasized the need for more economic opportunities, conflict resolution skills training, mediation centers for young adults to turn to when they’re facing threats, and additional support for the affected individual or family.

David Marimon, policy and research analyst at the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, shared their analysis of every homicide case in the District for the past two years. The research found that most gun violence in D.C. is “tightly concentrated on a small number of very high-risk young Black male adults that share a common set of risk factors.” Marimon also shared an accompanying gun violence reduction strategic plan, which recommends a focus on early intervention in the lives of D.C. youth, the need to create community resource hubs, enforcing regular reviews of shootings and streamlining information systems, among other suggestions. 

At a live talk on public safety with the Washington Post on Tuesday, Linda K. Harllee Harper, D.C.’s director of gun violence prevention, repeated the administration’s goal of focusing on 200 people they’ve identified as most at risk of participating in gun violence or being harmed by it. Harllee Harper said they aim “to focus on the whole person and to look at employment opportunities, mental health services, to do a public health approach to address those that we know need it the most.”

She called for people to “reimagine the role of police” and referenced the 911 mental health diversion pilot the city launched and extended last year, as well as the violence interrupters program, which was expanded around the same time. 

There isn’t yet enough evidence that the 911 diversion pilot is effective in D.C. There’s also a lack of concrete data that violence interrupters are helping curb local gun violence, according to a report by the D.C. Auditor this month. But Harllee Harper said it’s important for law enforcement and these other players to work together to address violence. Homicides in D.C. have steadily increased for the past 10 years.

“There has to be an understanding that neither side can give all the information that they have, but we have to respect what each other’s roles are,” she said Tuesday. “And I think that we’re getting close here in the District.”

—Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. [Post]
  • About 28,000 D.C. students are missing routine childhood vaccinations. [DCist]
  • Local officials are uniting to support local abortion clinics following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. [Post]
  • The Supreme Court ruled this morning that the Biden administration properly ended the Trump-era policy forcing some U.S. asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases went through the courts. The ruling comes after months of Texas and Arizona governors busing asylum seekers to D.C. [AP]

By Ambar Castillo (tips? acastillo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Darrow Montgomery/file

Elissa Silverman is Drawing Flak Over Her Ward 3 Poll. Did It Really Tip Things for Matt Frumin?

A round of recriminations and finger-pointing tends to follow any close election, and as the […]

  • More than a quarter of D.C. students are behind on their vaccines, putting their eligibility for school next year in jeopardy. The D.C. Council expressed alarm about Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plans to ramp up immunizations for these roughly 28,000 kids. [DCist]
  • Is outgoing Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie taking a look at an independent run in the at-large race this fall? A new poll in the field seems to be testing his chances. Campaign finance officials caution that he wouldn’t be able to use public financing for another run after his failed attorney general bid. [Twitter, Twitter]
  • The region’s leaders are worried about Metro’s rocky road to recovery. Former Mayor Tony Willams, a veteran of the control board era, is proposing a similar “temporary institution” to manage Metro until it gets back on its feet. [Governing]

By Alex Koma (tips? akoma@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Save the fried fish platter. [WAMU]
  • Can’t stop thinking about the ketchup dripping down the wall. [Washingtonian]
  • Escape from the city for some pizza on the farm. [Calleva]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Philadelphia’s Association for Public Art remembers Sam Gilliam [Instagram]
  • Local artists are resoundingly responding to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ruling, which overturned Roe v. Wade. [DCist]
  • Tattoos for reproductive rights: One local shop tattooed more than seven dozen people last Tuesday raising $16,000 for the National Network of Abortion Funds (I can’t believe I missed this). [Washingtonian]

By Sarah Marloff (tips? smarloff@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • “I won’t let them break me,” Brittney Griner said in a letter to her wife from a Russian prison. She’s awaiting trial for drug charges that begins Friday. Legal experts say a conviction is likely; a prisoner swap with Russia is possibly her best chance of coming home. [CBS, NYT]
  • Meet Kelsie Whitmore, the first woman to play baseball in the independent Atlantic League. [Post]
  • Nats get burned by the “fourth-out rule” in a loss to the Pirates because of course they did. [CBS Sports]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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