Applications for mini grants to prevent gun violence in the District are now open for D.C. residents. (Courtesy Photo)

By Sharece Crawford
Special to the AFRO

Will $59Million be enough to reduce the rampant crime and gun violence in Washington, DC? 

As of Monday June 14, mini grant applications are open for individuals and organizations to apply for up to $5,000 for D.C. residents to help the District prevent Gun Violence. 

“The application submission period will revolve from June 14 – September 30, 2021 or until funds run out,” said Director Linda K. Harlee-Harper of Building Blocks DC. “We anticipate getting funding out to community members as early as Monday, July 12, 2021.”

“Our Building Blocks Investments are about stopping gun violence before it happens. We don’t want people out on our streets involved in gun play. We want them focused on jobs, and schools and enjoying life and living long lives with their family and friends.” Said D.C.  Mayor Muriel Bowser’s during the press conference to announce her investments on Monday June 7, 2021.

Gun violence activist and founder of YAAY ME Dr. Warees Majeed pledged to continue helping start up organizations and community members to build their programs and access funding through the #NoSlideZone initiative. 

What is “No Slide Zone” you ask? “No Slide Zone is a movement to end gun violence. “Slide” is urban slang to suggest the act of inflicting damage on a rival community or person. No Slide Zone is the community’s response to ‘slide,’ explained Wajeed. 

The AFRO caught up with Gregory Neal Jackson during the No Slide Zone call to action event, who emphasized the work he and other gun violence prevention lobbyists are doing to help federal leaders support their goals. 

“We’re working with President Joe Biden to implement a commission to support all levels of government working together to end gun violence,” Jackson said.

Tia Bell from the Trigger Project joined forces with hundreds of residents throughout the District of Columbia to create a comprehensive plan to help navigate a city wide plan. 

“We’re focused on prevention. We need everyone involved to address gun violence as a public health crisis, which should be an independent committee,” Bell told the AFRO

Janne Queen had firsthand experience with the trials of gun violence.  

“Gun violence is alarming, it’s ruining my peace and the bullets violated my home,” Queen told the AFRO. “On Sunday June 13, between 11am and 12:30pm a bullet came through my 8-year-old daughter’s bedroom through my neighbors home and out of my window. It’s frustrating how no one is taking this seriously. What is it going to take? For my daughter to be dead for anyone to care? My home is compromised, my daughter is traumatized and refuses to come home and the police don’t care.”

“Gun Violence is a pandemic,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr., who was the former Chief Medical Examiner for Washington, DC, New Jersey, Houston and New York. “I’ve seen gun violence in all of these communities and have consoled mothers in all of them. I think it’s one of the most important public health issues that’s facing this country.” 

In reviewing all city budgets, Mayor Bowser’s allotment is the highest across the country to combat gun violence as a public health crisis. “It’s a call to action, not just for the government but for the entire community,” Mitchell said.

“This is why we say Defund the police and invest in the community. We can’t expect for the police to focus on the issues of prevention that we’re dealing with everyday,” said Regina Pixley, who, through Regina’s Place, responds to gun violence crime scenes as a concerned citizen and former ANC Commissioner.

The question remains will $59 Million Dollars be enough to reduce the crime? 

“It’s going to take more than money for a full transformation. It’s a spiritual war that requires the transforming of hearts and minds,” gun violence advocate Jimmie Jenkins said.

Dr. Majeed emphasized getting the community ready to receive funding opportunities.

“We are focused on getting Community members prepared to secure this funding and all other funding opportunities,” Majeed said. “They’ve been doing the work and we need all hands on deck to amplify their work.” 

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