Southeast community leaders call for change amid rise in crime

A rise in crime — including a string of recent shootings — across the District has community leaders in Southeast calling for change. 

FOX 5’s Jacqueline Matter attended a community meeting Wednesday where about three dozen people came out to raise their concerns with D.C. police and local officials.

Many of them wonder what it will take to feel safe in their own neighborhoods.

 "See something say something. We’re seeing and saying something, but it’s not being heard," one citizen said.

Southeast residents say they feel voiceless after bringing forth numerous complaints in recent months about crime in their neighborhoods.

"While I was by my car, a young man got shot in front of my face," said Chander Jayaraman, a neighbor and former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.

Open-air drug markets, frequent shootings, and illegal guns on the streets are just some of the issues community members say they are dealing with daily.

Since last week, D.C. police said they’ve recovered more than 100 guns in the First District.

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Police also said there have been 13 shootings —  involving one or more victims —  since Saturday, including several incidents that injured seven teens within 24 hours over the weekend.

On Monday, three of those shootings happened in less than an hour.

"It's happening at times when innocent residents are frequently using our public space," Jayaraman said. "It's no longer people shooting each other for some beef. It's now impacting the greater community."

One of those shootings was just blocks away from Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp’s home.

"Bullets are flying. Lot of bullets are flying; bullets are flying over the weekend. They've been flying all summer and they've been flying for honestly, the past eight years that I’ve been an ANC commissioner," Krepp said.

She’s now calling for changes to the D.C. Council’s Committee of the Judiciary and Public Safety.

"I'd like to see new members on the D.C. Council because the current crop is not showing the leadership that we need," Krepp said.

"I have rapes, murders, armed carjacking’s, stabbings, and shootings happening in front of everybody's houses. I mean, I think their answer to this is, 'hey, if we just ignore it long enough, it'll stop,'" she added.

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Others say it takes a community effort.

"We cannot police our way out of this crime or violence. MPD can’t be the only ones at the table. They are doing their job," one neighbor said. 

"To get to the source of why crime is happening is absolutely crucial to ending it. I desperately want easy answers as I walk my children to school," another neighbor chimed in. "I want to know that my kids are going to be safe, I want easy answers, but there aren’t easy answers to this."

Many of the residents were frustrated that D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen was not at the meeting, despite his open invite.

FOX 5 reached out to him and his office for a comment regarding the discussion but have not gotten a response.