In what was once the murder capital of the United States, three mayoral candidates pledged to end homicide once and for all.
“We believe that one murder is one murder too many,” said David Bowers, the event’s organizer. “There should be some righteous indignation within the community when any person is gunned down in our streets.”
Bowers is the leader of No Murders DC, an informal organization made up of volunteers that began 13 years ago. He and clergy members from Allen Chapel AME Church in Southeast D.C. organized this event to help build awareness and create a dialogue with mayoral candidates and the community on how to eliminate murder.
On this rainy Saturday morning, days before a crowded primary election, candidates Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells, Reta Lewis and Carlos Allen said the city should work to bring the number of homicides down to zero.
“When David talks about no more murders, people actually scoff at that,” said Bowser, the Ward 4 council member.
“This is not a police problem but a community problem that needs a community solution,” Bowser said, “If we think the police can solve the homicide problem we are fooling ourselves, because by the time they get involved it is too late.”
All four of the mayoral candidates believed in stopping homicides before they happen and agreed that the main issue is lack of opportunity.
“One of the things that is really, really critical that I have seen each and every day is that it boils down to, what other decisions do our young people have the ability to make when they are trying to move their lives forward,” Lewis said, “and it all boils down to jobs.”
Despite their differences as mayoral candidates, all four argued that most of the crime in the city is related to economics.
Allen, 43, said that as a young black man in the District, he almost succumbed to selling drugs when he was left without a home.
“I was going to be a statistic in this city of being one out of nine children locked up in prisons right now because of the near fact that I didn’t have nothing there for me so I could move forward,” Allen said.
As part of the presentation, candidates watched a five minute video by Curtis Mozie from the Tale of the Tape Foundation. The video showed clips of homicides and gun violence in D.C. dating back to 1981.
Mozie began recording videos around his neighborhood when some of his friends began dying in the streets when he was 22 years old.
Today, 85 of Mozie’s friends have been killed in D.C., he said. He has documented countless hours of crime scenes, funerals, hospital beds and shootings in videos that he uses to build awareness.
“I can get that story because I live among them,” Mozie said. “I am right there living with them and they trust me.”
In January 2012, a friend of Mozie’s died in his arms after being stabbed. He said being around all of this violence has taken a toll on him, but he has a goal to create change by building awareness.
“To me what [the mayoral candidates] said means nothing until they see what they just saw,” Mozie said, referring to his video. “Now they see that it’s not a game out here, it’s real.”