At a press conference with city leaders Wednesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that she’s signing a mayor’s order that recognizes gun violence as a public health crisis.
"For the past year many communities across the District have been burdened by two simultaneous public health emergencies," Bowser said. "The first is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has hit our Black and Latino communities the hardest. The second is the gun related violence that continues to devastate many of the same communities."
Her announcement comes after the District saw 922 people shot last year – an increase of 33 percent from the year before. The city’s 198-homicide total was also up 19 percent.
"This is a level of violence that we haven’t seen in more than a decade," Bowser said. Statistics show that nearly 96 percent of last year’s homicide victims were Black.
To counter the dangerous trend, the city is targeting those communities that have traditionally been hardest hit by gun violence – and according to their current data, they’ll have a precise focus.
On Wednesday, the city announced that it would begin with establishing a headquarters for the campaign at Shannon Place.
According to their statistics, around 151 blocks comprise about 2% of all the blocks in the city, yet they also account for 41% of the gun violence.
The mayor says the campaign will target those blocks – and prioritize both gun crimes, and shots-fired complaints.
The mayor’s office is committing $15 million to the project, with additional funding coming from the 2022 budget.