The election of Muriel Bowser as mayor of the District of Columbia has sparked widespread optimism about the city’s prospects. And Bowser’s response to the wave of murders plaguing the District (murders are up 43 percent this year) suggests that the optimism is warranted. Unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter movement’s response to Bowser should temper our optimism, at least when it comes to preventing the loss of black lives in D.C.
To counter the spike in the loss of (almost exclusively black) life due to killing, Bowser proposes eminently rational measures. They include more funding for community programs and increased police presence in neighborhoods. To promote the latter, she wants financial incentives to keep police officers on the force (there’s a wave of retirements looming).
Bowser also wants to increase some penalties for violent crimes. And she wants to give the police the power to search the residences of violent ex-offenders.
Yesterday, when Bowser came to a crime-ridden D.C. neighborhood, where the murder has nearly doubled this year, to talk about her $15 million initiative, Black Lives Matter protesters tried to shout her down. The Washington Post has the story. Bill Otis has commentary.
Unlike certain white politicians, Bowser held her ground. She told the crowd, “I will not be shouted down or scared away.”
Nor was she. Bowser spoke for about half an hour, despite being shouted at and heckled throughout. At one point she declared:
Some critics have said that today’s event will be about arresting black men. We’re not here to talk about arresting black men — but about how we can save their lives.
Unfortunately, the event ended on a low note. After leaving the stage to a mix of applause and boos, her security detail had to keep protesters away while she answered questions from reporters.
It’s sad to contemplate that, as Bill says, a security detail is needed to keep the mayor of Washington, DC, from getting menaced by fellow African Americans, so she can talk to the local press about dealing with a murder-spree that’s taking African American lives. But Bowser’s willingness to face the problem and stand up to a mob is, as I said, encouraging.