WASHINGTON, DC — Last Wednesday night, a woman was attacked while she drove with her 11-month-old child, just three blocks from Union Station and five from the Supreme Court.
The criminal held her at knifepoint as he forced his way into her car, brushing past the bright “Baby On Board” sticker. Video surveillance recorded her desperate screams and pleas for mercy echoing through the streets, while a passing pedestrian barely flinched. The perpetrator is still at large.
Two weeks earlier, just across the river, a gang of gunmen stole the car from a candidate for city council as he filled his tank. The highspeed operation, launched in broad daylight from an SUV, looks more like Baghdad than the United States. No arrests were made.
At 10 in the morning a month prior, at a small park across the street from the city police’s First District Substation, a father walking with his two young children was attacked by a vagrant throwing bricks. Bleeding from his head, he begged his attacker to let his infant baby and toddler be, but the man threw a second brick, fracturing the face of his eleven-month baby girl in her stroller, and leaving her with 12 stitches across her face.
A neighbor running out after he heard the screams found the father covered in blood, cradling his screaming baby.
One week before, just two blocks away in busy Eastern Market, a man smashed a brick over a young mother’s head while she walked with her child. Both of her front teeth were knocked out. The man escaped.
The nights between these awful attacks are filled with stolen cars, break-ins, car-jackings, assaults, robberies, and homicides.
You would never guess, however, that ours is a city in crisis — this past year literally suffering the largest percentage drop in population in the United States, while homicides increased by 15 percent — from how the D.C. City Council is spending its time and money.
Indeed, the 2022 budget cut the police department by 7.8 percent. Fighting back, the mayor requested a supplemental $11 million to hire 170 officers to work toward replacing the 400 — four hundred — who quit or retired since 2020’s Black Lives Matter riots, but even this was thwarted by the council; particularly arch-anti-police Member Charles Allen.
In a “compromise” led by Allen, the council approved only $5 million of the emergency request — enough to hire a mere 60 recruits — sending the remaining $6 million of the emergency request to “community violence interrupters,” an activist wet dream with little data to support its efficiency.
The council also made sure to award themselves, increasing the budget for “public election financing” — a program that makes it so every dollar a resident donates to them earns them another $5 from the taxpayer.
The system is allegedly designed to give everyone a chance (and curtail corporate-influenced corruption), but in practice it protects incumbents with higher name recognition — multiplying their larger hauls by five times, effectively burying lesser-known challengers.
Mayor Muriel Bowser had opposed the campaign finance overhaul in 2018, but after signing the bill she claimed she’d been convinced by the outpouring of voter support for her taking tax dollars to “strengthen our democracy.”
“I have heard them,” she wrote, “and I have been moved by their passion.” Her campaign’s received $2 million from the program so far this year.
“People are stoked,” one D.C. Democratic consultant on a city council campaign bragged to Axios. “People really feel empowered.”
Still, the council’s largesse doesn’t extend to public safety: In the same period of time they quadrupled their public campaign contributions, they’ve cut $100 million from the police — and overseen a simultaneous 36 percent increase in homicides.
“Residents want safety, not politics,” the council wrote in a press release explaining the decision to cut the police’s budget yet again.
Not all was lost, though: They managed to find $1,385,000 for the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, an office that supports things like “multicultural development,” including a Dominican Republic culture party called “Fiesta DC.”
They also approved $6,386,000 for the Office of Latino Affairs, which operates along the same lines.
The top result of a Google News search for this office’s most recent community impact is an article titled, “‘They’re Targeting Latinos’: DC leaders asked to help after robberies of contractors.” The article tells the story of a rash of armed robberies targeting Hispanic immigrant construction workers. One criminal, arrested last month, was suspected of at least 19 other attacks.
“It happens,” one victim said, “on a weekly basis.”