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Not Letting It ‘Slide’ in D.C.

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Advocates and youth lead an anti-violence movement in their communities

Washington City Paper - by AMBAR CASTILLO JULY 28TH, 2021

Community members gather to promote no slide zones on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Photo courtesy of Dodson Robey.

Yesterday evening, about 140 residents of Wards 7 and 8—most of them young people—marched along Malcolm X Avenue SE in Congress Heights to protest gun violence and promote a “no slide zone.” Elementary school-aged children held their parents’ hands as they strode alongside members of the Ballou High School football team, concerned residents and advocates they knew from the block and those they didn’t know from neighboring wards, and police assigned to the neighborhood. Leading the march were two junior high girls carrying a banner with three words in large block letters: “How Many More?”

The march ended at the junction with Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, the intersection where, two weeks ago, 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney was killed by a stray bullet. Her killing, together with other high-profile shootings in the District, sent shockwaves throughout the nation and amplified calls to address and prevent gun violence in D.C.

The “No Slide Zone” red and white T-shirts and chants were telling: “Put the guns down, pick the kids up”/ “Don’t just stand there, do somethin’”/ “When I block you, under attack, Whatchu gonna go? Man, don’t slide back!”

What’s the “No Slide Zone”?

The “no slide zone” message refers to a lot more than its namesake organization, an initiative launched two years ago in response to the gun violence disproportionately impacting young people in Southeast, Northeast, and Northwest D.C. (The “slide” allusion is a way for the community to reclaim the language some young people and rappers have used for pulling up on neighborhoods and shooting, an outreach specialist with Building Blocks DC and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement affectionately known as Cousin Wayne explained to City Paper.)

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