D.C. Council member Trayon White, frustrated by the growing number of homicides in the city, particularly in his Ward 8, demanded Friday that Mayor Muriel Bowser immediately declare a state of emergency to address the issue.
“We have to declare an emergency when it comes to crime and violence,” White said Friday afternoon to about 30 people assembled for a press conference at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center in Southeast. “We are burying our children. Something has to be done about the record number of shootings and homicides in the District.”
White called on the mayor to set up a commission to address gun violence in the city. The commission would consist of representatives from various sectors of the District and would have no more than 30 days to “develop a set of recommendations which can quickly be acted upon.”
White wants Bowser to bring together District government agencies, mental health providers, law enforcement departments and nonprofits throughout the city to host a planning meeting. He issued his request based on the 198 homicides in the city in 2020, a 19% increase from the previous year.
There have been 16 homicides in the District since the new year began, up 14% from this time last year.
White said the solution to the problem lies not with “politicians, the mayor or the police department but with the community.”
“Too often, what has become normal has been desensitized,” the councilman said. “Bad things happen when good people do nothing.”
White criticized Bowser for her administration’s coordination with law enforcement agencies in the activities surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol but said no strategy to deal with violence in the neighborhoods in the District.
White said his office will work on a Ward 8 Comprehensive Public Strategy Strategic Plan “to make short-term, medium-term and long-term actions to address the violence in our ward.”
However, he said District residents must become more proactive in fighting crime in general and the homicide rate in particular.
“It’s our fault this is happening,” the Ward 8 councilman said. “It is time for the men in the community to stand up. This is a call to action.”