D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee slammed his community’s “unacceptable” violence during a lengthy impromptu speech on Friday, following two men being shot near restaurants on Thursday night in a popular area of northwest D.C.
Amid gunshots, diners had to flee their tables for safety, after which two shooting victims were taken to the hospital. Contee emphasized that such violence is becoming the norm in the nation’s capital.
The suspects and vehicle, described as an older black sedan, were captured by a nearby camera and can be seen in video here. pic.twitter.com/n8P2gR5ps9
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) July 23, 2021
“What happened out here last night …was unacceptable. It’s unacceptable in any community. The reality is, we have situations that happen like this … all across our city, and it’s been happening for a long time,” Contee said. “Last year, we had over 922 people shot in our city. Last year, 198 people [were] murdered in our city.”
“This should be shocking to the conscience of every person in our city,” Contee continued. “I don’t care where you live.”
108 murders in DC in the first six months of 2021, and they're almost all ignored. One shooting happens in an upscale NW DC neighborhood that CNN and HuffPost journalists love and it's a national news story. https://t.co/MT9nj51Swl
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 23, 2021
Contee noted that D.C.’s lawlessness began receiving extra attention after a Saturday baseball game at Nationals Park was violently interrupted by a shooting outside the stadium. Three people were wounded as fans cowered in the dugouts.
Contee condemned his city’s crime rate, saying communities have been suffering across D.C. for a long time. Not all crimes are high-profile, but Contee said they deserve attention too.
According to Contee, he and his colleagues keep recovering firearms, while criminals demonstrate a brazen disregard for the law. “We have a vicious cycle of bad actors who do things with no accountability and they end up back in [the] community … and I guarantee you, when we lock up whoever did this, they will be no stranger to us. I promise you that,” Contee noted.
He encouraged his neighbors to start reclaiming their city because “enough is enough.” In a long monologue, he made it clear he wants violent criminals to be held accountable:
“[T]he way that we’re going and the things that we’re trying to do, we want to help people, yes we should. But you cannot coddle violent criminals, you cannot. You cannot treat violent criminals who are out here making communities unsafe for you, for your loved ones, for me, for my loved ones. They might not want a job, they might not, they might not need services. What they may require is to be off of our streets because they’re making it unsafe for us. And if that’s what it requires, then that’s what it requires. And we have to own that. We have to own it, because if not, we see more of this. We see more of this in our communities and then what happens? When someone is shot … people are outraged by it. I’m outraged every time. …Those 922, a lot of those 198 [who] died … I stood over many of [the bodies].”
Contee went silent in thought. “[We need to] have honest conversations with the people, the leadership, be it the police chief, be it council members, be it courts, be it whoever,” he added. “The police department, we’re an easy target. You could easily focus on the police department, about what the police department did and didn’t do. That’s easy. I’m challenging you to look at the entire system.”
“The laws that are in place for people who carry guns in our community, who do things to people in [the] community, violent acts … are those things acceptable?” Contee asked. “Whatever you say is acceptable, it’s my responsibility to enforce that. That’s my job, to respond to those things that the community say[s] … is … the standard. … If some people knew what the standard is, what the outcome is on the other end of some of these cases, it would blow your mind.”
“The recidivism rate for violent offenders is the highest that we’ve seen anywhere — 87 percent, I think, in that area, for people who carry guns. They use them. I’m mad as hell about this, and I hope y’all are too,” Contee added. “Look at the system. How are we holding people accountable? What does that accountability look like, and is it okay with you?”