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DC's New Violence Reduction Plan? Posters Telling Residents Not to Kill People.

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

In Washington, D.C., where crime is on the rise as it is in many big Democrat-run cities across America, some community leaders have a new plan to address rising violent crime, specifically homicide: simply reminding people that they are not to kill others. 

Red cardboard signs declaring "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" in large white letters will be posted around D.C., in case would-be murderers were not deterred enough by the fact that homicide is, in fact, illegal. 

According to local WTOP News, the Anacostia Coordinating Council's executive director Philip Pannell is one such leader to launch the new sign campaign this week. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is providing 1,000 of the posters and the owner of the local Busboys and Poets restaurant chain committed to printing 2,000 that will distributed to Washingtonians. 

But even the activism project's organizers admit the posters aren't actually going to dissuade would-be or established criminals from continuing to murder their fellow citizens. Pannell told WTOP that, rather than curbing homicides, "he’s hoping the signs espousing the sixth commandment will reinvigorate discussion about stopping gun violence."

Ah, conversation about how many people are being killed in Washington. Well, talk is cheap. And it's not like D.C. needs a braintrust to figure out there's a problem with crime or how to fix it — stop being soft on crime. But the nation's capital has been enacting policies that are softer on crime, not tougher, amid "completely unacceptable" violence, as D.C.'s police chief described the problem.

In 2022, the nation's capital ended the year with 203 homicides, an 11 percent decrease from 2021's 226 victims, but 2023 has already seen 40 percent more homicides than at this point in 2022. 

As Julio reported in November, the D.C. City Council moved ahead with a "complete overhaul of the capital's criminal code." Their so-called reform "eliminates all mandatory minimum sentences except for first-degree murder, and expands the ability of people serving prison sentences to petition a judge for early release" while those convicted of crimes including burglary, robbery, carjacking, and illegally carrying a gun face lesser penalties.

If you were looking for more evidence that commanding signs aren't a fix for rising crime, the current distribution of posters isn't the first time D.C.'s streets have seen such activism. According to Pannell, the signs also made an appearance some three decades ago "at the height of the crack epidemic, when we were also experiencing violence and homicides."

Pannell added that the revived grassroots effort is "something I think most people in the city can agree with, and is something they can support." While it would be difficult to find law-abiding citizens who want more homicides, residents and business owners would likely prefer that D.C. crack down on crime. Many Washington parks and transit hubs such as Union Station, have been turned into lawless locales, with shootings and stabbings occurring regularly. Yet the D.C. Council keeps reducing penalties to deter criminals in the first place or get them off the streets after convictions.

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