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Community leaders look for solutions to DC violence | News

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Community leaders look for solutions to DC violence

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- An increase in violence in the Washington D.C. over the last few weeks prompted community leaders to meet Saturday to come up with long-term solutions to break the cycle.

So far in 2015, there have been 73 homicides in Washington, an increase of nearly 18 percent from this time last year.

For these community leaders, the latest concentration of violent crime has a familiar echo, and their meeting in Anacostia was a familiar solution.

"This has been done in the past, where in 2008 everyone came together and we had four straight years of murder rate going down and violence going down," Ron Moten of the Art of Peace initiative said.

But breaking the cycle is not going to be easy, and the synthetic drug problem is drawing comparisons to the crack epidemic 30 years ago.

"The difference is we know what happened when we didn't stand up back then," Sirraya Grant a concerned citizen said. "It was a city under siege, we had a big population of people that was involved in that. So we're trying to get a handle on it before it gets to that point."

The exploitation of young women, domestic violence and the arrival of synthetic drugs, which are often referred to as "K2" or "Spice" are not easy problems to deal with. So the people are the meeting called for long-term solutions.

"We have to get out here, grab our young people up. Get fathers back in the household, strengthen the household, strengthen families and build up our culture again," Paul Stewart of Hip Hop Fathers incorporated said.

Police are making an effort to change the pattern, but they continue to look for the public's help, even from those who don't live in D.C.

"Thing happen on Metro trains, they happen all over the city, and also throughout the DMV. So we need everyone to really report suspicious things, report drugs people are selling, this K2 stuff to make a differance, because eventually it will impact you," D.C Police Assistant Chief Diane Groomes.

"We're trying to do our best to combat it and I think the new legislation about going after the suppliers and the stores and even out on the street will make a big difference," Groomes said.

On Thursday, a 14-year-old girl caught up in a prostitution ring helped police arrest two people selling underage girls for sex acts at local hotels. And a new focus has been placed on synthetic drugs after a 24-year-old man was murdered on a Metro train.

A number of the community leaders say too many young people in the city are spending their summer with nothing to do, and that can add to violence. Right now, 15,000 young people are employed in the mayor's summer jobs program.

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