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'We're all looking for peace' | Community advocates and District leaders talk solutions to rising crime

D.C. surpassed 100 murders on Wednesday. Police say this is the earliest date that the District has hit 100 since 2003.

WASHINGTON — A grim milestone was reached Wednesday for murders in Washington, D.C. 

On Tuesday, the District saw its 100th homicide. By 4 p.m. Wednesday, D.C. surpassed that number. 

DC Police confirming the 101st murder victim as a 32-year-old man from Northeast, and the 102nd victim as a 63-year-old woman.

According to the DC Police Union, this is the earliest date the city has hit 100 since 2003.

A check of DC crime stats show we were at 86 murders this time last year. WUSA9 asked District leaders about the spike and their plan for the summer at a news conference celebrating a safety partnership that puts dashcams in the cars of Door Dash delivery drivers.

Interim Chief Ashan Benedict said prepare for a "proactive" police department this summer – more officers walking the beat in the 4/5 hot spots they’ve identified in each district and more traffic stops. Meanwhile, some community members are coming up with their own solutions.

Joshua White, 29, was more than just a number. But the D.C. man is now the District's 100th murder victim, shot and killed at a Shell gas station on South Capitol Street, Southeast.

“The best way to stop murders is to lock up murderers and to hold them accountable," said Benedict. The chief said Tuesday evening's murder broke the streak of what was shaping up to be a non-violent day in the entire city: a small step forward, a massive jump backward.

"We are having success but when someone loses their life, we can never take that lightly and we can’t celebrate the successes because we know we have more work to do," said Benedict.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said, "To talk about 100 people in a city our size being lost to gun violence or some other type of violence in our neighborhood means many people have connections to those incidents."

Bowser said part of her plan to make the city safer involves closing gaps in the laws, upholding consequences, and increasing access to youth programs.

“Making sure our young people are actively engaged is critical,” said Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Lindsay Appiah.

Ward 8 resident Charnal Chainey said, “We're all looking for that peace in our community. It's just hard to find."

Chainey, a community leader who runs Bold Yoga, LLC, a wellness and mindfulness nonprofit, said most young people haven't healed from their trauma so they are sometimes not emotionally available to receive the resources. She finds pockets of peace and hope by hosting healing circles and yoga classes for children.

"We will talk about the violence that's happened in the community, giving them a safe space to talk about, like how they feel," she said. 

Bold Yoga, LLC, has now teamed up with Transformative Justice Solutions to create the Healing Outlet App – a community driven app where people can access city resources, a therapist, classes & workshops. There is even a platform where violence interrupters can receive real time information about street beefs or trouble spots so they can work proactively to prevent violence.

“We started thinking about what is going wrong when we're pouring all these resources?” recalled Katherine Russell of Transformative Justice Solutions. “And really, what is happening is the coordination of the resources.”

"We didn't want to go and recreate a program or come up with something – we have enough in the city. We just need to bring it to where it's like a centralized place," Chainey added.

So, while city leaders work on policy and policing to stop the crime, community members work to help and heal from the inside.

The Healing Outlet app is in production and organizers are raising money to help launch the application. All proceeds will go toward the community content creators who are contributing art, resources, and information to the app.

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