black metal gun on white surface
Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Washington Wizards could wave their magic wands and end gun violence across D.C., especially in Ward 8? The reality is that they aren’t crime fighters but merely basketball players whose duty is to win games and entertain fans, not to fight crime. Still, two players, Anthony Gill and Monte Morris, along with Natasha Cloud of the Mystics, injected their voices into the chorus of residents and community activists who keep saying “enough is enough” of the rising gun violence and gun-related murders in D.C.

It’s unclear what the expectations were of those that attended the town hall meeting this week hosted by the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ). Collaborators included Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the D.C. offices of Gun Violence Prevention and Victims Services and Justice Grants.

The evening event was held at the RISE Center on the campus of St. Elizabeths near the Sports and Entertainment Arena, which serves as the Wizard’s practice court and the home court for the Mystics. More than 100 anxious residents and community leaders showed up hopeful and looking for solutions that have eluded politicians, police, clergy or even the violence interrupters who are making a difference in the fight against gun violence but for many, it’s not enough.

Heads nodded, and the audience applauded following the testimonials of Gill and Morris, who grew up in High Point, North Carolina, and Flint, Michigan, respectively. Both faced what young Black boys see every day in the streets in D.C. but thanks to their focus on their sport and families supporting them despite their fears for their survival, they made it out.

“This historic partnership between ASJ and the NBA/WNBA is only the first step in our work to curb gun violence and bring real public safety and justice to communities most harmed,” Jay Jordan, president of Alliance for Safety and Justice and national director of TimeDone, told the audience and the press. The new initiative established in response to the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake aims to “chart a path towards greater investment in community-based violence prevention and rehabilitation services proven to heal victims, and pioneered by ASJ,” according to a press release.

While many in the room are already deeply invested in finding solutions to ending gun violence, including Council members Trayon White (Ward 8) and Kenyon McDuffie (Ward 5), many left asking, “What’s next?” Despite the innumerable town halls, marches and street vigils, hope still prevails.

It will take more than wizardry to end gun violence. Still, with more action from those in the community, including sports figures, offering their voices, ideas and investments to the community, the problem might mystically disappear.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.