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Statement from Bread for the City on Gun Violence in DC

161. That is the number of people who have been killed in DC so far in 2023. We can no longer ignore the role of gun violence in homicides in our communities. In the last week alone, we have experienced two traumatic shootings at the doorstep of Bread for the City’s Southeast Center in Ward 8’s Fairlawn community. This is just one street in one neighborhood, but across DC, gun violence is destroying lives – from those killed or injured, to witnesses, and loved ones left behind to rebuild shattered families and communities.

Bread for the City joins with community leaders in calling for an end to this needless loss of life. But bringing in the National Guard, as Councilmember Trayon White has suggested, is not the solution and will only increase the harm done to Black and brown communities in our city. Increased policing will not, and has not, created safer communities. This band-aid solution ignores the systemic disinvestment in low-income communities and communities of color which is the true root of the problems our neighborhoods are facing, including violence and instability.

We honor and remember those killed this week on Good Hope Road: Bernard “BJ” Hodges was 35. He was a husband and father of four, attending school and working three jobs to provide for his family. His mother said BJ would host cookouts to feed his neighbors. He always wanted to ensure people in the community did not go hungry.

Tymea Cook was 27 and a mother of two young girls. Her aunt said, “I always pictured her to be a lawyer…she was always the sharp one in the family.” Tymea made her daughters’ education a priority.

Reginald Gilbert was 34 and was experiencing homelessness at the time of his death.

We are living through a public health crisis with a very real body count. We know that the safest communities are those that are supported through resources – access to food, housing, and economic security. While our community comes together to mourn BJ, Tymea, Reginald, and the other 158 people we lost in 2023, we must also be supported by city leaders and officials who are willing to root out poverty, the lack of affordable housing, disinvestment in Black and brown communities, and racist policies – and not wrongfully increase violence by militarizing our neighborhoods.

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