On Thursday, the Washington City Paper reported on the continued gun violence in the District despite social distancing and the pandemic. According to the outlet, of the 46 murders in D.C. this year, 17 murders have occurred since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 — and the overwhelming majority of these homicides involved a gun.
Local gun violence intervention and prevention groups — like the Alliance of Concerned Men, Cure The Streets, DC SAFE, and NO MURDERS DC — are adapting their strategies and rising to the challenge of fighting both continued gun violence and COVID-19. The pandemic has created new challenges for these groups, from increased unemployment to the potential for a rise in domestic violence. It has also brought the prospect of reductions in previously allocated funding, which “could deal major setbacks to newer programs like Cure the Streets and the ONSE’s Pathways Program,” Washington City Paper’s Amanda Michelle Gomez reported.
With anticipated cuts of $607 million to the city’s budget looming, the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action is advocating for sustained funding for community groups and connecting young people in D.C. with different essential resources while schools are closed.
According to Thursday’s story, D.C. Chief of Police Peter Newsham “views things differently from the violence interrupters.”
“The violent offenders and the people who are inclined to use firearms are different than everybody else,” the police chief told Washington City Paper. “The difference is they just don’t have any regard for human life.”
“Comments like these are a gross oversimplification of the epidemic of gun violence that disproportionately impacts Black and brown communities,” said Rachel Usdan, a volunteer with D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action. “It neglects the root causes of shootings, including decades of policy decisions that have resulted in segregated neighborhoods and underinvestment in communities of color. They also ignore the rigorous research showing that violence interruption programs save lives.”
There should be a concerted effort to sustain funding for local groups that have seen success in interrupting the cycle of violence, and are saving lives from both gun violence and COVID-19.
More information about gun violence in cities can be found here. More on the positive impact of local gun violence intervention groups can be found here. If you have any questions or would like to speak with someone on the topic, please don’t hesitate to reach out.