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DC councilmember hosting forum to find solutions to gun violence

Councilmember Brooke Pinto is hosting a three-day forum to bring together neighbors, advocates, and officials.

WASHINGTON — From a recent stabbing in the Petworth Library to the D.C.'s revised criminal code, crime and violence continue to be top of mind for DC neighbors. So, one councilmember is hosting a public forum to address it.

Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto is kicking off a three-day forum to focus on gun violence.

She said her goal is to bring neighbors, advocates, and government officials together to find solutions to gun violence.

One activist said we have to start with love.

“We can't skip past healing anymore. We have to start with healing and then move forward," Executive Director of The Love More Movement, Dr. Bruce Purnell said. "We have to move to a place that we're gonna measure by assets, and that's what's gonna end it...When we kind of move and engage another way...We need opportunities, but we need bridges those opportunities also.”

Dr. Bruce Purnell also teaches violence interrupters how to be life coaches at the DC Peace Academy.

That's a privately funded group that has been training violence interrupters how to take care of their own mental health as they work to help the community.

As a native Washingtonian who has had family grow up here since 1830, Purnell said he has seen the evolution of violence and attempted solutions over the years.

He and others want the city to try a different approach.

This comes as Councilmember Pinto said Thursday that D.C. saw eight homicides by gun this week alone.

DC Police crime data also shows some striking statistics.

As of Thursday, homicides are up 37% from the same time last year. Violent crime is down 9%, but all crime is up 25%. Those numbers add urgency to this public forum.

Advocates and neighbors will testify at 11 a.m. Friday morning virtually.

Saturday, she’ll host the in-person forum at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library at 11 a.m.

Monday, government witnesses will take their turn to share.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 4B06 will be testifying and said she appreciates that Pinto is asking neighbors for input – but hopes this is an ongoing conversation.

“We need to continue our proactive efforts in being more inclusive of opportunities outside of police presence. We need to work towards greater, better functionality of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement with our violence interrupters. We need to ensure that that office is fully funded and implemented," ANC Tiffani Johnson said. "And we also need to really focus on the holistic approaches to why we're having gun violence. What is causing this in our communities? Is it the food deserts? Is it a lack of affordable accessible housing… There's a lot of trauma that has to be unpacked.”

You can watch the forum online here.

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