WASHINGTON - Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is facing criticism for taking a trip to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar this week to discuss climate change and to promote D.C. as a tourist destination amid spiraling violent crimes throttling the nation’s capital.
Bowser’s office said Saturday that the mayor will depart Sunday for the Middle East "as part of the US Conference of Mayors delegation for the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference."
"Mayor Bowser will join leaders from across the globe for the first-ever local action climate summit, hosted by the COP 28 Presidency and Bloomberg Philanthropies. She will first visit Doha, Qatar to engage with leaders on the issues of infrastructure, sports and education, as well as promote Washington, DC as a destination for investment and tourism in partnership with the DC Chamber of Commerce," her office continued in a press release.
The trip comes after the city recorded its 249th homicide for the year, the highest number of homicides since 2003. Homicides alone have spiked by 35% so far this year when compared to the same period in 2022, police data published Nov. 22 show.
Violent crime across the board has increased by 40% this year when compared to the same time last year.
Incidents of robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, burglary and theft have all ticked up this year, incidents of sex abuse fell by 1% compared to last year, and theft from an auto also fell by 1%, police data shows. Motor vehicle theft has notably spiked 96% as of Nov. 22 with 6,248 reported incidents, compared to the same time last year, while arson increased 125%.
Crime in the city has even affected political leaders and their families. On Nov. 12, a U.S. Secret Service agent assigned to protect President Biden’s granddaughter, Naomi, for example, opened gunfire in Georgetown in response to an attempted car break-in.
In other examples, Texas Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar was carjacked by three armed attackers near the U.S. Capitol last month; Democrat Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig was attacked by an "erratic" man suspected to be high on a drug in the elevator of her Washington, D.C., apartment building in February, police said at the time.
Social media commenters railed against the mayor for the trip when crime is spiking, calling on her to address rampant carjackings and robberies before traveling to other nations.
Fox News Digital reached out to the mayor’s office early Sunday afternoon to inquire about the trip and subsequent criticisms but did not immediately receive a reply.
Violent crimes involving minors have also become a great concern for residents, which was underscored by a viral video published on social media this month that reportedly showed a group of boys in D.C. debating crimes and felony charges, such as murder and armed carjacking.
"He's saying he'd rather commit murder than armed robbery … armed robbery is what we're doing," one teenager in the video is heard saying.
"It's armed robbery and an armed carjacking … it's both of them combined, that's higher than murder," another boy responded as they talked over each other.
In the first nine months of this year, Washington, D.C., police arrested 458 juveniles for robbery, homicide or assault with a dangerous weapon, according to data from the mayor's office.
When asked by Fox 5 DC if the mayor had comment on the video of the young boys, Bowser said she "won’t be wasting my time watching that."
Bowser has since declared a public emergency to address the increase in crimes committed by youths as well as the city's separate opioid crisis.
Bowser returns to D.C. on Dec. 2 and is to "resume her public schedule" next Monday, according to her office.
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