D.C. Witness Fills DC’s Need for Homicide Transparency

After a horrific start to 2019, D.C. Witness data shows that transparency about homicide cases is needed more than it ever was.

Even though the District considers itself progressive by ensuring defendants of crime get adequate representation and equal justice, the city still lacks transparency in its judicial process. This makes it difficult for residents to hold government agencies accountable for providing adequate resources and protection to all.

There is a distrust lurking throughout the District. For some, that distrust is aimed at the police and, for others, that distrust is of government officials and media outlets who prioritize certain people and neighborhoods over others.

But, when anyone dies in DC, the whole city suffers.

As of Feb. 28, there have already been 29 homicides in the city, nearly a 93 percent increase in homicides from a year ago. February alone has already had ten homicides.

Ten homicides is far less than the 19 homicides tallied in January, but it is still way too high for a city that boosts coming of age changes, relishes in its appeal to tourists and stands as the corner of governmental policy for the entire country.

For four years, D.C. Witness has fought to bring transparency on homicides in our city and, in doing so, serve our fellow residents. The D.C. Witness staff has learned about and researched several different ways we could provide this information more effectively. So, we are growing to meet the community’s need. As we grow, I thought it would be useful to answer some questions about who we are.

  • What is D.C. Witness?

D.C. Witness is a nonprofit organization that focuses on delivering transparency to every community in DC about homicides happening in our city. To achieve this transparency, D.C. Witness attends court hearings and trials daily, reporting on events about which the general public is not often informed. D.C. Witness also collects data from agencies across the city, which is not collected anywhere else, to try to provide insights that can be used to tackle the plague of homicides.

  • What is D.C. Witness’s objective?

D.C. Witness wants to shine the light on issues and communities long ignored. The organization also wants to provide objective information so that effective public policies can been formulated to work toward eliminating homicides. In addition, the D.C. Witness staff hopes to provide information that might curb some of the fears residents have with regard to the rising number of homicides and their distrust of police by providing reliable data and coverage.

  • What exactly does D.C. Witness do?

D.C. Witness has tracked every homicide in DC since 2015. By tracking every case from act to judicial resolution, D.C. Witness provides in-depth data reporting on homicide cases by attending each hearing and trial to create news articles and analytical pieces to inform the community on the status of each case and the policy issues they involve. Before D.C. WItness, most cases received scant coverage in the DC media.  One of our goals is to fill that gap by reporting on every homicide in the city regardless of location, socio-economic status, race, gender, identity, or anything that might set them apart. We believe that only full transparency can ensure justice is fair and equitable.

  • Why are you reaching out to me?

Community awareness and engagement is important if we are to prevent a resurgence of the kind of numbers seen in the 1980s and 90s. That might seem hyperbole, but your support is what makes this machine run.  

Like all nonprofit organizations, D.C. Witness relies on donors to support our efforts. In this new year, we ask that people who can afford to spare even as little as $5 contribute to our cause of keeping residents informed and safe. To donate, please click here. Thank you.

Yours respectfully,

LaTrina Antoine

D.C. Witness Editor in Chief