(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser came together with community members, peacemakers, and administration officials to announce 202 for Peace, a summer-long, citywide gun violence awareness campaign designed to connect residents who are vulnerable to violence to available resources, engage the community in efforts aimed at keeping DC youth safe, and provide a platform for the families of the victims of violence to voice a shared and common vision for peace. As a grassroots initiative, 202 for Peace will bring together agencies across the city to accelerate efforts and build community support to reduce gun violence and other forms of violent crime through education, service projects, and community engagement activities.
“This is about our community coming together to say enough is enough,” said Mayor Bowser. “We still believe that gun violence is a solvable problem. But it will take all of us working together — to connect people to opportunity, to get and keep our young people engaged in safe activities, and to send a message that we will not tolerate nor normalize gun violence. I am incredibly grateful for people like Crystal who have gone through the unimaginable and are still using their voices to advocate for peace.”
Mayor Bowser was joined by Violence Interrupter Crystal McNeal, mother of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, who was shot and killed in 2020 after leaving a community peace event. Ron Moten, founder of Don’t Mute DC, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Chris Geldart, Office of Gun Violence Reduction (OGVP) Director Linda Harllee Harper, Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) Director Delano Hunter, and Credible Messengers from OGVP and Violence Interrupters from ONSE also joined the Mayor for the announcement.
National Gun Violence Awareness Day was established on June 2, 2015, in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a teenager who marched in President Obama’s second inauguration and was shot on a playground in Chicago days later. Hadiya’s friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others. Wear Orange is now observed every June.
Community transformation is the process of addressing the risk factors that give rise to violence in communities. Mayor Bowser’s Safer, Stronger DC plan has a dual focus on people who are at high-risk of involvement in gun violence and places in the District that have the most gun-related violence.
This spring, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, in coordination with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice and the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, launched the People of Promise initiative. This interagency initiative aims to disrupt the cycle of violence, poverty, and incarceration by relentlessly outreaching to those at risk and connecting them to expedited supports and services. Each Person of Promise is assigned a support team made up of a Credible Contact and a Pathfinder. Each team works closely with a member of Mayor Bowser’s cabinet, who can provide expert guidance troubleshooting complex service needs or barriers.
The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget invests more than $80 million in non-police interventions, including $13.5 million to expand recreation opportunities, particularly for young people, and increase access to high-quality programming that keeps residents safe and engaged. The Mayor’s budget also invests in extending meaningful learning opportunities to District youth when they are outside of school, including:
- $6.4M to continue the expansion of the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program
- $5M to extend out-of-school time grant opportunities and preserve continuity to youth programming
- $3.9M to expand out-of-school-time recreation programs provided by the Department of Parks and Recreation and community-based organizations, focusing on athletics, visual arts, performing arts, e-sports, culinary arts, other programming of interest
In addition to these youth-centered investments, the District’s new budget includes $2 million to hire 20 Life Coaches to provide intensive and high-quality care coordination services for the approximately 200 residents identified to be most vulnerable to violent crime. Other investments to prevent violent crime include:
- $11.4M to support returning citizens with financial assistance through community-based organizations, financial coaching, and peer navigators as they transition back into the community
- $9.7M for additional violence interrupters and $390K for additional credible messengers
- $4.5M for DC Pathways to serve an additional 100 individuals at risk of gun violence and $8.5M to provide more wrap-around support services including Pathways Champions positions for at-risk individuals, Project Empowerment support services, intensive care coordination, housing assistance/relocation, and transportation support
- $7.7M to support 110 dedicated year-round employment opportunities through the Department of Public Works for individuals at risk of gun violence
- $6.6M for the Department of Behavioral Health, the DC Department of Transportation, and the Department of Public Works to respond to non-emergency 911 calls for mental health distress, minor traffic crashes, and parking complaints
- $2.5M to expand trauma-informed mental health services
- $2.2M for temporary safe housing for residents involved in gun violence
- $1.5M for community investment grants to carry out neighborhood action plans in focus neighborhoods
The Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONSE) partners with local artists and entrepreneurs to bring training and support to young people who are closest to gun violence. This spring, ONSE clients recorded musical and spoken work content that will be featured in the 202 for Peace campaign. The song “Shoot for the Stars,” recorded by ONSE clients, will be featured on radio advertisements promoting peace.
To learn more about the 202 for Peace campaign, please visit 202forPeace.dc.gov.