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Amid High Crime Rate, D.C. Council Reverses Some Liberal Strategies

The Washington, D.C., Council on Tuesday is likely to solidify its turn away from the liberal strategies it once trumpeted as lawmakers aim to pass new legislation that will impose harsher penalties for gun crimes and keep more people locked up as they await trial, the Washington Post reports. The Secure D.C. Omnibus Amendment Act, comes after months of public outcry that city leaders were not doing enough to stop stores from being ransacked and people from getting carjacked or shot. It reflects months of fiery neighborhood meetings, calls from fed-up business owners, closed-door consultations with top public safety brass and intense oversight from congressional lawmakers who derided what they called “soft-on-crime” policies.

The measure adjusts some of the law enforcement accountability changes the city imposed after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Even some council members who voted to advance the bill say they’re skeptical it will make D.C. safer. They had grown tired of hearing they had done nothing on crime, and that widespread perception made them “ornery, on edge and difficult,” said Council Chair Phil Mendelson. “It’s a different council than four years ago,” Mendelson said. “I would say that this council is much more moderate with regard to public safety.” The legislation was led by council member Brooke Pinto, a lawyer who was elected to represent downtown as the council’s youngest member in 2020, weeks after Floyd’s murder. Violent crime reports are down 10 percent and homicides are down by 31 percent in the early months of 2024, but council members are under pressure to act coming off a year in which the homicide total reached a high not seen since the late 1990s. Two council members are facing recall efforts over crime. Dozens of national business trade leaders wrote to Mayor Muriel Bowser and the council on Thursday, expressing alarm about “random acts of violence,” including the fatal shooting of a former elections official while he waited to pick up his wife and the killing of a 10-year-old girl who was struck by a stray bullet on Mother's Day.


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