The Council is officially on recess until September, but my oversight and community work continues throughout the summer. In this newsletter, I am updating you about the emergency crime bill the Council passed on Tuesday and our broader work on public safety. We also have important meetings coming up on the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Fort Totten to Takoma, logistics for the CitiOpen Tournament in Ward 4, and the 14th Street Bus Priority Project. And there are great Ward 4 events planned, like Late Night Hype at Emery Heights, the Battle of Fort Stevens Commemoration, the Riggs Park Art Crawl, an Outdoor Jazz Concert in Crestwood, and Ward 4 free admission day at the National Building Museum.
Council Takes on Public Safety Emergency Bill
On Tuesday, the Council passed emergency legislation aimed at addressing the surge in crime in our city. The violence that has claimed the lives of so many of our neighbors in the District and traumatized our communities is intolerable, and our agencies and communities must be fully mobilized to stop it. Like many of us, I have been a victim of crime and I have had loved ones who have been victims of violent crime, too. And I have been on the scene of shootings in our community time-after-time speaking to victims’ devastated families and frightened neighbors. In Ward 4, we know that we need to hold people who perpetrate violence accountable and get illegal guns off our streets, while also addressing the underlying causes of violence and providing positive employment, health, and recreational opportunities to our residents and our young people that bring stability and hope to their lives. As your Councilmember, I will always fight for comprehensive, evidence-based crime prevention strategies that avoid the mistakes of the past and create lasting peace in our communities.
The emergency legislation we passed made several changes that I support, including: increasing penalties for violent crimes against workers in public transit and recreation centers, and making GPS data from ankle bracelets admissible in court cases. The bill even includes provisions that the Council already approved in the Criminal Code Revision that the Mayor vetoed and Congress overturned, like creating a felony offense when someone fires a gun in our communities (even if no one is struck) and creating a standalone felony offense of strangulation to better target abuses that often take place in domestic violence incidents. And the bill expands DC’s private security camera rebate program, which reimburses residents, businesses, and churches for the cost of installing security cameras on their properties. My team and I regularly promote this program to our community, and last year we secured funding for six additional MPD closed-circuit cameras to fill coverage gaps in Ward 4.
However, I ultimately voted against the emergency bill because it irresponsibly expands pretrial detention in ways that violate due process and will make our communities less safe. Pretrial detention is used to hold a defendant in jail prior to their trial. Judges have the ability to require pretrial detention if a defendant is deemed a flight risk or a safety risk to the public. Of course, anyone arrested for serious offenses like homicide and armed robbery should be held before their trial. Current law already favors pretrial detention for these charges and an extensive list of violations, including any dangerous or violent crime committed with a gun or other weapon. The bill before us on Tuesday expands pretrial detention overly broadly to cover a long list of unarmed offenses, including offenses like snatching a cell phone, or pickpocketing. No one is dismissing the need to enforce these offenses, but jailing defendants pretrial for these unarmed offenses without them being found guilty of anything will fail to improve public safety and will almost certainly backfire.
That is because pretrial detention is extraordinarily harmful and disruptive to the lives of people who are presumed innocent. When you are detained pretrial, you are very likely to lose your job and the economic stability it provides to you and your family. It also puts you at severe risk of losing your home if you cannot keep up with rent or mortgage payments. It separates you from your loved ones, your support network, and any treatment plans you are undergoing. And if you’re a parent, you risk losing custody of your chilren to the foster system. Given these impacts, it is no surprise that pretrial detention is heavily linked to higher recidivism rates — making individuals more likely to reoffend after they are released. We are talking about residents accused of unarmed offenses, who are first-time defendants, or who will later have their charges dismissed or be found not guilty. This pretrial provision will be destructive in their lives and lead to more crime in our communities that hurts all of us.
And that is far from the only reason to oppose the pretrial provision in the emergency bill. It also infringes on DC residents’ constitutional right to due process by presuming people to be guilty until proven innocent and punishes them on that basis alone. Due process is not merely a legal concept — it is a foundational right we have to protect the integrity of our justice system and the dignity of every person. Emergency bills are temporary measures that only last 90 days, go into effect almost immediately, and bypass the regular legislative process. It is unreasonable and impractical to change both the legal burden of proof and evidentiary standard for pretrial detention on a 90-day basis, as this bill does. Judges, court staff, pretrial providers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and defendants alike need enough time to understand and properly implement the new law. When the Council revised DC’s criminal code, we used permanent legislation and an implementation date more than two years in the future.
I was able to work with my Council colleagues to make several important changes to the bill. One provision in the Mayor’s bill would have weakened DC’s Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA), which allows incarcerated individuals who have served at least 15 years in prison for crimes committed at a young age to apply for early release – and allows judges to rule on their request based on several factors and using their discretion. DC’s IRAA law has very low rates of recidivism, and we already have many successful petitioners who have rehabilitated into society and are contributing to our communities with stable jobs, as entrepreneurs, as coaches and mentors, as violence interrupters, and as fathers and grandfathers. Thankfully, we were able to protect the IRAA and DC’s status as a second-chance city. Another provision in the Mayor’s original bill would have expanded pretrial detention for children in DC who do not pose a flight risk or a significant threat to others. But after strong community opposition, this provision was narrowly tailored to only apply for serious violent offenses that fit the bill. Unfortunately, because the adult pretrial provision was introduced late in the process, it was not responsibly tailored it in the same way. I will work with my colleagues to get this right in the permanent version of the legislation.
At its root, this bill misdiagnoses the key failure in our criminal justice ecosystem. The percentage of defendants released pretrial in DC who remain arrest-free during the pretrial period is high relative to other jurisdictions and has been steadily increasing — up from 87% in 2018 to 92% in 2022. And only between 1% and 2% of those under pretrial supervision in DC reoffend for a violent crime. Ratcheting up pretrial detention for those charged with unarmed offenses will not make us safer, but it is a formula for broken homes and increased crime. It harkens back to the failed mass incarceration polices that devastated our communities for decades. What actually deters crime is the likelihood that someone is apprehended and quickly prosecuted, yet in DC 67% of all arrests and 53% of felony arrests are not prosecuted. We need to focus on ensuring more cases are prosecuted by making constitutional arrests that do not get tossed out in court, staffing up and reaccrediting DC’s crime lab so it can collect and process the evidence needed in prosecutions, and pressuring the US Attorney’s Office to prosecute more cases when arrests are made. That is what accountability looks like.
I am a native Washingtonian and a Black woman, and I grew up here in our Ward 4 community. I am also the only Councilmember who has prosecuted offenses like homicides and robberies in court. I bring both my life experiences and professional expertise to the work I do on the DC Council for Ward 4. My top priority will always be the safety of our community, even if it means taking tough votes. I was elected to do what is right for the people of Ward 4 — not to make cheap headlines on bills that ultimately set our city back. Doing something is not the same as doing something that works. Over the coming months, we will keep building on the work we have done to improve safety in Ward 4, including:
- Bringing a new Cure the Streets team, which is DC’s most effective violence interruption program, to prevent gun violence in Petworth and Brightwood Park
- Securing six new CCTV security cameras in Ward 4 to address coverage gaps in at-risk areas and provide more evidence for MPD to investigate cases
- Working with ONSE to create a dedicated Pathways cohort for Ward 4 and 5 residents to provide intensive job training and transitional employment to at-risk individuals
- Partnering with DC OAG to hold nuisance properties accountable when they exacerbate public safety issues in our community
- Funding a new ONSE Leadership Academy at MacFarland Middle School to provide positive mentorship and development for at-risk students. This program has a successful record of improving behavior and academic results at schools like Paul PCS
- Securing funds for a new public library on Kennedy Street to bring much-needed resources and transform the corridor along with new housing and small businesses
- Leading multiagency walkthroughs and meetings focused on areas like Petworth Metro, 14th & Spring NW, and Kennedy Street to take steps to improve public safety
- Working in our community to address conditions that worsen public safety, including blighted properties, abandoned vehicles, inadequate lighting, substance abuse, a lack of security cameras, broken locks in our schools, and supporting our small businesses
- Introducing a bill to require schools to teach conflict resolution in their curricula so young people can learn to peacefully resolve conflicts as part of DC’s education system
- Advancing legislation that addresses the root causes of crime, including poverty, housing instability, family instability, and lead in our water that harms our children
Late Night Hype Emery Heights Community Center
On Friday, July 14 from 6pm-11pm DPR will host an after-hours Late Night Hype event at Emery Heights Community Center (5701 Georgia Avenue NW) as part of its weekly summer activation. Late Night Hype is a nighttime carnival-style event featuring bounce houses, music, food, video games, and much more! Check out the details on DPR’s website.
Manor Park Community Cleanup
On Saturday, July 15 starting at 9am 4B05 Commissioner Kevin Gilligan will host a community cleanup in Manor Park. Neighbors will meet at 8th & Peabody NW and clean nearby streets. Bags, gloves, grabbers, and snacks will all be provided.
159th Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Stevens
On Saturday, July 15 at 10am-4pm NPS andthe Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington will host the 159th Commemoration of the Battle of Fort Stevens with the theme “Music and the Defense of the Capital.” The main program will begin at 10:15am and will include a great lineup of speakers, musicians, reenactors, historical interpreters, and children’s activities. There will also be a walk-and-talk session at 3pm at nearby Battleground Cemetery.
Summer Saturdays with City Blossoms on Kennedy
On Saturday, July 15 from 10am-12pm City Blossoms will host Summer Saturdays in their studio garden at 516 Kennedy St NW (accessible through the alley on 5th Street). This is a free, kid-driven, community event with nature play, reading, recipe-making, garden art, plant care, and more summer activities. Check out all the details on the event’s flyer.
6th Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl
On Saturday, July 15 from 10am-3pm Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Neighborhood Library and The Parks Main Street will host the 6th Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl. The event will feature local vendors, music, books, live painting, yoga demo, face painting, balloons, caricatures, and more! Check out the event flyer for details.
Mad Science DC at Shepherd Park Library
On Saturday, July 15 from 1:30pm-2:30pm Shepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton Library will host a Discover Summer event where children can learn from Mad Science DC about the four signs of a chemical reaction through foaming and color changing experiments, balloon inflation, and explosions! The program will conclude with Mad Science bubbling potions, where the kids will get to learn about dry ice and see the creation of real clouds.
Outdoor Jazz Concert in Crestwood
On Saturday, July 15 from 5pm-7pm the Crestwood Citizens Association will host an outdoor jazz concert for neighbors at The Triangle (18th & Argyle Terrace NW). Brandon Woody and UPENDO will be performing tunes for neighbors, and beverages and light refreshments will be provided. Bring a blanket or chair, pack a picnic, and enjoy an evening of live music.
Carter Barron East Neighborhood Cleanup
On Sunday, July 16 at 11am the Carter Barron East Neighborhood Association will host a cleanup of the 5100-5400 blocks of 14th Street. Meet at the corner of Gallatin & 14th Street NW to join in. Gloves, trash grabbers, and bags will be provided to anyone who needs them, and neighbors will go to Moreland’s Tavern afterwards for brunch fare and refreshments.
Ward 4 Day at National Building Museum
On Thursday, July 20 from 10am-4pm the National Building Museum will host Ward 4 Day, where Ward 4 residents will be able to enter the museum for free and explore their newest summer installation, participate in hands-on crafts, enjoy storytime at 11am or 1pm, and meet neighbors and community partners. Bring your proof of residency to verify your zip code, and all children must be accompanied by adults. If you are tied up on July 20, you can also visit the museum for free on August 3 or August 17 through your At Large Council representatives.
The Parks Marketplace Ribbon Cutting and Festival
On Thursday, July 20 from 4pm-6:30pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host a ribbon cutting and community festival to celebrate the opening of the new Marketplace Plaza, featuring The Hartley apartments, Common Clover co-living, Kite House condos, the new Whole Foods, and retail stores like The Charmery ice cream shop, Nailsaloon, Mezeh, and Chase Bank. The event will kick off with live music and feature free beverage samples, food, and giveaways.
Socialist Night School on Social Housing in Petworth
On Thursday, July 20 at 6:30pm Metro DSA will host a Socialist Night School event focused on social housing at Petworth Neighborhood Library (4200 Kansas Ave NW). The hybrid event will feature Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker and labor, housing, and community organizers from DC and beyond. The panel will discuss the housing crisis in the District and why social housing is an essential policy to address it. Please RSVP via Action Network.
Petworth Jazz Project Returns
On Saturday, July 22 from 5pm-8pm the Petworth Jazz Project will bring another jazz performance to our community on the lawn of Petworth Rec Center (801 Taylor St NW). Bring a chair or blanket and enjoy a great performance from Nag Champa & The Elijah Easton Trio.
Crestwood Neighborhood Ice Cream Social
On Sunday, July 23 at 2pm the Crestwood Citizens Association is hosting an ice cream social at the Triangle (18th & Argyle NW). Come for free ice cream treats from Mister Softee, lawn games, and socializing with neighbors.
Fresh Goods and Community at Ward 4 Farmers Markets
We have several great Farmers Market options in Ward 4 every weekend:
- Uptown Farmers Market at 5501 Colorado Ave NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Chevy Chase Farmers Market at Lafayette ES on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Petworth Community Market at 9th & Upshur NW on Saturdays from 9am-1pm
- Takoma Park Farmers Market at 6931 Laurel Ave on Sundays from 10am-2pm
CitiOpen Logistics Community Meeting
Ahead of the annual Mubadala Citi DC Tennis Tournament taking place on July 29 through August 6 at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, the Executive is holding a virtual community meeting to discuss the logistics for nearby neighbors on Tuesday, July 18 at 6pm — especially when it comes to parking restrictions. Here is an early draft map of blocks with restricted parking, which is subject to change based on feedback received during the community meeting. You can log in for the meeting using this WebEx link or by dialing 202-860-2110 with access code: 474 651 670. Please contact Ward 4 MOCRS liaison Derek Johnson with any questions about the meeting at email@example.com.
Metropolitan Branch Trail Meeting: Fort Totten to Takoma
On Tuesday, July 18 at 6pm DDOT will host a virtual project meeting on the next phase of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that will connect Fort Totten to Takoma. The agency will share an overview of the project, updates on the design, and project milestones. Learn more at this link.
14th Street Bus Priority Project – Concept Selection Open House
DDOT is holding an open house on Tuesday August 1 from 4:30pm-7:30pm at Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood Library (3160 16th Street NW) to review the proposed roadway design concept for the 14th Street NW Bus Priority Project. The project aims to improve bus service and traffic safety along 14th Street from Newtown Street to Arkansas Avenue. DDOT had been considering three potential concept designs for the corridor and are close to finalizing a design.
Ward 4 Council Office Summer Recess Hours
Now that the Council is in recess, our team is taking extra time to plan for next year, draft new legislation, implement new programs funded in the budget, and be in our community over the summer months. Our office will remain open on Mondays-Thursdays from 10am-4pm. We will be closed on Fridays, but a staff member or myself will be on call to monitor for urgent requests. We will continue supporting Ward 4 residents with constituent services requests, agency oversight, legislative needs, and getting issues over the finish line all summer long.
Join the Disability Services Provider Fair
Next week the DC Department of Disability Services will host a free disability fair with more than 90 community-based organizations and DC agencies that serve residents with disabilities and their families. The disability fair will take place on Wednesday, July 19 from 10am-6pm at the Convention Center (801 Mt. Vernon Pl NW). Please RSVP online if you plan to attend.
DPW Trash and Recycling Shifts an Hour Earlier
Since last week, DPW has been collecting trash and recycling an hour earlier than usual — starting their collection routes at 6am. The change will help safeguard the health and safety of DPW collection workers from summer heat and poor air quality. Residents are encouraged to put their trash and recycling out the night before collection — anytime after 6pm.
Outdoor Pools Now Open Six Days a Week
Outdoor pools are now open open six days, and you can find each pool’s schedule on DPR’s website. In Ward 4, Upshur Pool is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10am-6pm and only closes on Mondays. Keep in mind that DC’s indoor pools are also open during summer, including Roosevelt Pool and Takoma Aquatic Center in Ward 4. Indoor pools are a great option if you want to swim early in the morning or late at night — or if the weather or air quality is bad.
MetroBus Launches Nighttime Courtesy Stops
MetroBus drivers now offer nighttime courtesy stops for riders traveling between 9pm-5am to improve service and customer safety when it is darkest outside. All riders need to do is politely ask the driver for a courtesy stop at a safe location and use the front door of the bus to exit.
DCPL Dinosaur Roaring Contest Is Back
DC Public Library is bringing back its fun and frightening dinosaur roaring contest. Just record a video of your best dinosaur roar (10 seconds or less) and upload your entry on DCPL’s website by August 1. There will be prizes and a compilation video with the best entries!
Free Summer Meals for Youth Available All Summer
Reminders on Parking from DDOT
DDOT recently shared a flyer with important reminders on parking in DC that help ensure traffic safety, expand accessibility for neighbors with disabilities, and prevent you from getting a ticket:
Local News Links
Channel 9: DC Council Weighs Bills to Mandate Removal of Lead Pipes
DCist: Series Of DC Council Bills Aim To Get Dangerous Drivers Off The Roads Faster
City Paper: New Bill Would Close an Existing Gap in Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights
Petworth News: Lincoln Cottage for Community Project invites your participation
Next Stop… Riggs Park: Pick Up Your Lamond-Riggs Library Heritage Wall Memento
City Paper: Health Centers Create Strategies to Keep Residents Enrolled in Medicaid
Washington Post: DC home buyers’ assistance program is out of funds, officials say
Fox 5: Hedzole dishing up Ghanaian cuisine in Sixteenth Street Heights
Petworth News: Turning a garage roof green and getting cool
Ward 4 Dispatch: DCPS Repairs, Lead-Free DC, and Jazz in The Parks at Walter Reed
I am saddened to share the tragic news that former ANC 4C Chair Charlotte Nugent passed away suddenly last month. Charlotte was an incredibly kind and dedicated community member and public servant who championed public transit, traffic safety, affordable housing, digital equity in education, high-impact tutoring, and support for small businesses across Petworth, Brightwood Park, and Sixteenth Street Heights. Our community remembers and honors Charlotte, and we share our condolences and prayers with her family, friends, and neighbors.
On July 12, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln famously witnessed the Battle of Fort Stevens from Fort Stevens, which is located in the contemporary Brightwood neighborhood in Ward 4. As President Lincoln stood atop the fort on the second day of the battle, he came under direct fire from Confederate sharpshooters. It was the only time in American history in which a sitting President came under direct fire from enemy combatants. Tomorrow, we commemorate the Battle of Fort Stevens as Ward 4’s own slice of Civil War History in the excellent annual commemoration planned by the Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington.
Have a wonderful weekend, Ward 4 neighbors.
Yours in Community,