Prince George’s County elected officials, community leaders and residents clad in orange T-shirts filled part of a parking lot Tuesday outside Jericho City of Praise Family Ministries in Landover to send a message: It’s time to end gun violence in the county.

Prince George’s State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy led a rally attended by a few hundred people with the theme, “Our Streets, Our Future.”

“Justice will be to have these individuals still among us,” she said. “That’s why we’re here today to honor them.”

The orange symbolizes the beginning of Gun Violence Awareness Month, recognized in June. Homicides in major cities and counties increased in the first three months of 2021 compared to last year.

Prince George’s County elected officials, community leaders and residents wear orange T-shirts to commemorate Gun Violence Awareness Month during a community rally outside Jericho City of Praise Family Ministries in Landover, Maryland, on June 1. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

A quarterly report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association found that 63 of 70 law enforcement agencies’ reported homicides increased from 1,337 in the first three months of last year to 1,721 over the same period this year.

During that time frame in Prince George’s, 27 homicides were reported, up from 23 in 2020.

Several elected officials and community leaders read the names of residents who died due to gun violence.

Since the police-involved killing of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis, the focus has been not only on spotlighting and stopping police brutality but also on encouraging residents to assist law enforcement when violence, burglaries and other crimes occur.

A community walk is scheduled Thursday in Suitland as part of County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’ “Unity in the Community” series, which aims to give residents the opportunity to chat about concerns in their neighborhoods. The first one took place last week at Trinidad Baptist Church in Capitol Heights.

Bowie, Maryland, Mayor Tim Adams reads the names of victims killed by gun violence during a community rally outside Jericho City of Praise Family Ministries in Landover, Maryland, on June 1. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

“I know sometimes in our communities we have this unwritten code [against] snitching. It’s not getting us anywhere,” said Prince George’s County Police Maj. Shawné Waddy, one of four Black women in the department with that rank. “The community has to come together because when the police department gets involved, the incident has already occurred. Proactiveness versus reactiveness.”

Ashanti Martinez, a research and policy analyst for CASA and community organizer, said one way to decrease crimes would be boosting economic development.

“We need a progressive tax code. Prince George’s County’s taxes are too burdened on the back of homeowners. We need to shift that burden on our commercial partners and we need to bring more of them to the county,” he said. “I understand there is a connection with violent crime and commitment from the business community, but we have to do more to attract people to Prince George’s County and have them see the value that it is to invest here.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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