Yesterday, during the 3-o’clock afternoon hour, Mayor Adrian Fenty held a press conference alongside District City Council Members Jim Graham, Jack Evans, David Catania, District Attorney General Peter Nickles, and an Assistant Chief of Police. The press conference addressed portions of the “Omnibus Anti-Crime Act of 2009” bill, which is on the Council’s agenda, and recent violent activities. Perhaps though, the press conference most directly addressed one hotly contested portion of the bill, Fenty’s anti-gang provision. Among the provisions’ measures, the prosecutors office would gain the authority to issue an injunction barring an alleged gang member from participating in a variety of activities, including associating with other known gang members. Fenty, Graham, Evans, Catania, Nickles, and the Assistant Chief each gave a statement in support of the recently defeated bill, which was not adopted by the Council in this past Tuesday’s meeting. Instead the council agreed to adopt an emergency measure that focuses specifically on guns, not “gang” members. Read the entire “Omnibus Anti-Crime Act of 2009” by clicking here.
The ACLU demonstrated prior to the press conference and stirred up quite a large crowd of observers. They demonstrated most vigorously (“intervention, not injunctions!”) against the anti-gang measures in the bill, which is supported by Fenty, Graham, Evans, Catania, and Council Member Muriel Bowser. Read the Washington Post’s editorial on the topic of gang injunctions by clicking here.
A number of recent activities have stirred up the city, including recent purported and actual “gang and drug violence” (for e.g.) and an agreement the District government has made that expands the city’s list of legal handgun models. Effectively by this agreement the District government has avoided a lawsuit. The press conference was merely steps from the location of the previous day’s shooting that occurred directly in front of the Columbia Heights Metro Station. Ironically enough, the suspect arrested for that shooting had just begun a summer internship in Graham’s office.
I am troubled by the recent events. The act of shooting two bullets at someone in the middle of broad daylight by the entrance of a public train station in a very busy area of the city is extremely brazen. What can be done about this type of gun activity in the District? In the face of the District government’s stunted attempts at stricter gun control laws, is coming down hard on gangs (through these injunction measures) the best way of curbing youthful trouble making? I’m not convinced that Fenty’s anti-gang provisions will correct the problems associated with the city’s troubled youths, but the injunctions seem to me like a reasonable measure for trying to make our streets safer.
[Continue to view more images from the press conference.]