Black Lives Matter boos Washington DC mayor’s anti-crime plans

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Lives Matter activists disrupt Bowser speech on how to stop killings.

Chanting “police are not the answer,” dozens of protesters from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on Thursday prevented the mayor of Washington, D.C. from completing her announcement of a new police program plan to curb a sharply rising murder rate in the nation’s capital, local news reports said.WASHINGTON (AP) — The boos began as soon as Washington’s mayor said she was putting more police officers on the streets in neighborhoods affected by violent crime.In an effort to thwart the ever-increasing prevalence of guns and violence in Washington, D.C., the city’s mayor said Tuesday that she will work on “closing gaps in our laws.” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in an interview with ABC 7 she wants to make it easier for police to search the homes of people on either parole or probation. The chants disrupted Mayor Muriel Bowser’s speech and the first-term Democratic mayor, who is black, left the stage as the crowd both jeered and cheered, according to The Washington Post.

Bowser (D) planned to announce a wide-ranging, $15 million plan to boost both community programs and police presence in response to a 43 percent spike in killings this year. But — in the latest indication that the city’s spike in violence has become a political problem for the first -term incumbent — she was shouted down by the activists, and had to retreat to a rear hallway in order to take questions from reporters. Instead of an increase in police powers, activists say they want to combat violent crime with an approach that involves members of the communities afflicted by the killings. “Some critics have said that today’s event will be about arresting black men,” the Post quoted Bowser as saying. “We’re not here to talk about arresting black men — but about how we can save their lives.” She was trying to announce her plan in Ward 8, a largely African-American area in the city’s southeast quadrant.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told the Post he recently spoke with Bowser and confirmed plans to move the legislation when the council reconvenes after its summer recess. The increase in violent crime has represented the first real crisis for Bowser, who took office in January and pledged a “fresh start” for the city after her predecessor was dogged by campaign-related scandals. Bowser fought back, at times acknowledging the voices of dissent and at other times simply raising her voice over the roar. “I will not be shouted down or scared away,” she said as her supporters stood and cheered over the din of protest, effectively splitting the room into opposing sides. At a press conference earlier this month Bowser announced new “legislative changes” she planned to implement to curb rising gun violence in the city.

She didn’t say exactly what those changes would be, but she did say she plans to make sure penalties for crimes committed on public transit are “more robust” than they have been in the past.(RELATED: Violence Is So Bad In This DC Neighborhood, Bus Drivers Just Stopped Going There) Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. Lanier have faced criticism for offering shifting explanations for the surging homicide rate, including greater use of synthetic drugs and increasing circulation of illegal guns. Eugene Puryear, an activist and Green Party politician who represents the BLM-affiliated group Stop Police Terror D.C., said the mayor’s approach was deeply flawed and would result in more police oppression in African-American communities. “More cops with more weapons and tougher laws and expanding police powers — that got us the era of mass incarceration, but it didn’t stop crime,” Puryear told Al Jazeera. “Instead of a police surge, there needs to be a community surge.” He said that successful ways of reducing police violence require the participation of community members who have returned from jail, or who have “walked in the shoes” of young people at risk of committing or falling victim to violent crime. On Thursday, Bowser stressed that there appears to be no single explanation for the increase but rather a multitude of factors — and therefore no single fix. Puryear also said the city’s de facto racial divide — with a majority black eastern section and majority white western area — makes it hard for Washingtonians to understand each other’s respective experiences with police. “If you’re not experiencing these oppressive police practices, then it’s easier to look at the police and say this [Bowser’s plan] is the solution,” Puryear said.

No one was arrested or escorted from the building, and the mayor mostly ignored the shouts and forged ahead with her speech. “I don’t come across any citizen of this city, any Washingtonian, that says it’s OK to commit murder,” she said. “I don’t come across anybody that says repeat violent offenders should have access to guns.” Outside the school, which Bowser said would be converted into a temporary community center offering city services, was a collection of stuffed animals and empty liquor bottles marking the spot where 18-year-old Shaun Simmons was fatally shot on Aug. 1. She later huddled with reporters in a hallway — with her security detail keeping others away — to answer questions and finish outlining her agenda. An American Civil Liberties Union study had found that black Washingtonians were eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, and backers of the referendum had argued that legalization would help make the criminal justice more fair.

Bowser’s office denied it was headed down the path of stop-and-frisk, the tactic that caused outrage in New York City during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to police, 10 of the nearly 60 people arrested on suspicion of homicide this year had prior homicide charges, and nearly half had arrests on prior gun-related charges. Instead, Bowser’s planned measures “are targeted to violent individuals who have been convicted or arrested for crimes like murder, armed robbery, and sexual assault,” the mayor’s office said in a news release. Pressed on those concerns by reporters after the event, Bowser pointed to the city’s massive ongoing school modernization program, her recently expanded Summer Youth Employment Program and other social projects. “We’re continuing the effort for jobs and expanded opportunity.

Just this year alone, we continue to make that robust investment in jobs, but there is so much more we have to do.” “Our positions are not different,” she said. “I think it’s unfortunate that the people didn’t actually get to hear about the policies and programs that I think they [too] advocate for.”

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