Mayor Muriel Bowser (Courtesy Photo)
The heated atmosphere inside a central room of the former Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast D.C. rose even more on Aug. 27 as Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about a crime plan she recently updated.
Protestors voice their concerns on Mayor Bowser’s crime plan for D.C. (Photo by Linda Poulson)
A “Safer, Stronger DC” was introduced to the audience as a comprehensive public safety agenda to combat violent crime. The $15 million dollar crime plan contains five major steps: putting more police officers on the streets, giving law enforcement more tools to protect residents, stopping violent criminals from repeatedly victimizing communities, increasing penalties for violent crimes committed on the public transit system, and in parks and recreation centers, and launching a community partnership strategy to support neighborhoods.
“We gather here at the old Malcolm X School in Ward 8 in the area that has experienced nearly twice as many homicides this year than last,” said the mayor. “We’re not here to talk about arresting black men – but about how we can save their lives.”
Bowser plans to add more legislation for community-police relations reform and returning citizen employment readiness by Sept. 15.
With homicides numbered at 105, as of Aug. 31, the same total number for all of 2014, Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier are trying to figure out ways to mitigate the causes in the uptick of violent crime. “By using overtime we have 108 more officers on the street in the most vulnerable areas,” she said, pointing out changes already implemented.
The mayor and police chief also re-launched the Illegal Guns in the District and All Hands on Deck initiatives over the Aug. 28-30 weekend. The D.C. Police Union expressed displeasure with the All Hands on Deck initiative and, in a vote announced Aug. 31, expressed “no confidence” in Lanier’s leadership.
Black Lives Matters members, Stop Police Terror D.C. Founder Eugene Puryear, and other activists protested the mayor’s speech. “We are passionate here, we know the mayor is playing a political game rather than dealing with poverty and deprivation,” Puryear said. “This is superficial. How do we stop and tackle crime, how do we give opportunity . . . none of what she is proposing is happening.”
However, standing by the mayor, Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), whose ward has also seen a spike in crime, said, “The mayor addressed everything on agenda. These rebel rousers that are part of the Black Lives Matter movement are talking about Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, we’re addressing crime against our Black brothers and sisters.”
Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kathy Henderson said, “The majority of the people in D.C. are with her. I am very glad that people are standing together because there is a lot of fear in this city. What Mayor Bowser is trying to do is keep people alive.”