A Democratic councilman in the District of Columbia is calling on the Biden administration to deploy the National Guard to stop gun violence in the city, according to remarks at a press conference attended by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
In Washington, D.C., the homicide rate has increased by 28% and robbery by 60% since 2022, most of which are committed by minors, according to crime statistics published by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Democratic Councilman Trayon White Sr., who represents Ward 8 on the City Council, has said that “desperate times call for desperate measures” and that “sworn and armed national guardsmen” are necessary to stop the violence, primarily in the Anacostia region. (RELATED: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Admits City Has Faced ‘Concerning Increases In Crime’)
“We are clearly in a warzone. Rapid bursts of gunfire are heard all over the city … the presence of AK-47s and AR-15s are a danger to our community,” White said, adding that MPD officers were not equipped to combat the violence, requiring the National Guard to be present. “Handguns on our police are no match for artillery, for high-powered rifles in our community. We know that officers with a handgun can’t combat three people with AR-15s.”
White said that he had spoken with the D.C. National Guard and the mayor’s office, noting that Mayor Muriel Bowser was on vacation at the time. The deployment of the Guard necessarily involved the intervention of President Joe Biden, he said.
“We are looking to take our case to the White House and all those partners in between us and the president,” White said, in response to a question from the DCNF. Unlike in states, where the governor is the commander-in-chief of the National Guard unless federalized, the president of the United States directly controls the D.C. National Guard.
White said that he did not expect constitutional challenges to the deployment of the National Guard, since he would be working with legal experts to curate the Guard’s deployment. He noted that D.C. authorities had requested specific details on the Guard’s duties and scope of deployment in advance of a decision.
Beyond deploying National Guard, White pushed back against notions of “defunding the police,” which have been called for by some federally-elected Democrats. “I want to dispel the myth that we’re trying to defund the police. The issue right now in our community is that we don’t have enough officers, don’t have enough resources,” he said.
Members of the community who attended the press conference echoed White’s statements in comments to the DCNF, saying that the National Guard was necessary to stop gang violence, which has been killing young people.
“We’re not going to get anything done by using normal procedures. We need the National Guard. I truly think we do. They should have the power of arrest and patrol like the D.C. Police,” said Rocky Twyman, who had come to watch White’s remarks. “We had a carjacking down the street. I’m a senior citizen. I’m frightened.”
“I’ve been here since 1960 and I’m tired,” said Paul Kearney, a chaplain who lived down the street from the press conference, which itself was held at the site of a shooting that had killed three over the previous weekend. He added that the D.C. government had to “start holding kids as adults [or] hold their parents responsible” for the violence.
The D.C. government currently operates a pre-trial diversion program for minor offenders, which enables some teenagers arrested for violent crimes to be released under supervision in lieu of confinement. This was criticized by Dr. Kevin Fields, the executive director of Father Factor, Inc., a group that works to persuade youths away from gun violence in D.C., who attended the press conference.
“Young juveniles are being arrested for carjacking and being released the next day. The judges don’t seem like they have power,” Fields said. “We should be holding people more accountable when they’re committing these heinous crimes. The judges need more power … if the crime fits, we may need to look at trying them as adults.”
Fields also attributed the problem of gun violence in the city to substance abuse, including the use of fentanyl-laced narcotics. Most fentanyl in the United States is trafficked over the border with Mexico, where the Biden administration has been criticized by congressional Republicans and Democrats over its border security and asylum policies that, allegedly, permit trafficking into the United States.
Apart from White, several mothers of children killed and maimed by gun violence in the city spoke with emotion at the conference, saying they feared for their own lives as well as those of their remaining children.
“My youngest son was paralyzed from the waist down. You can’t go into the store with your kids in the car because you fear they are going to get shot,” said Asia Tammimi, a community organizer whose children were shot. “Using high-powered weapons, without training and while driving, you’re going to hit innocents,” she said.
White said that, later on, Tuesday, he would be meeting with the interim chief of police in D.C. and other officials to discuss the particulars of deploying the National Guard. “If we can’t protect our kids, what are we really doing?” he implored, over hecklers who accused him of staging a “photo op” instead of addressing the problem.
“We are burying our children. They are not burying us,” said Joy Sky, a pastor who had lost members of her families to gun violence.
“The councilman. The mayor. Joe Biden. Do something!”
The White House and Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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