The D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, today released the following statements after the D.C. City Council passed a 2021 budget that will sustain funding for local violence interruption groups. The passage of the budget comes after another violent weekend in the District, one that included a shooting in Northwest Washington that killed one person and wounded eight others.
“Local gun violence intervention programs in the District have been saving lives for years, and we’re happy to see them receive the sustained funding they deserve,” said Jennifer Massey, a volunteer with the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action. “These groups are on the frontlines of the public health crises hitting Black and brown communities in D.C. the hardest. This funding will allow them to continue their work, and our communities will be safer for it.”
“At every moment, we are forced to compete with the streets, the despair, and the power that the gun gives,” said Tia Bell with FOuR Youth and the T.R.I.G.G.E.R Project. “We won this battle today, yet, gun violence continues to break records. We must become intentional about implementing youth development and primary prevention in the war of gun violence. Youth deserve to envision a life without gun violence.”
Gun violence in Washington, D.C. has shown no sign of slowing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s homicide rate is on track to match its highest in a decade, and according to the Washington City Paper “the overwhelming majority of homicides involved a gun.” On the Fourth of July, 11-year-old Davon McNeal was shot and killed in Southeast D.C. after attending a Fourth of July cookout organized by his mother Crystal McNeal, a local violence interrupter.
Community-based violence intervention and prevention programs apply localized approaches that are well-suited to address gun violence in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. These programs, such as Cure the Streets, identify individuals who are at the highest risk of shooting or being shot, and work to reduce violence through targeted interventions that include de-escalating potentially violent conflicts, providing case management support services, and transforming community norms around violence. During the pandemic, violence interrupters’ mission is two-fold: continuing the essential work of preventing gun violence, while also helping with food and PPE distribution to underserved communities.
More information on gun violence in Washington, D.C. is available here.