(VitalNews.org) – The mayor of Washington D.C. has flown to the Middle East in order to attend a summit on climate change and to promote her city as a potential tourist destination. Muriel Bowser is said to have left Washington on Sunday November 27 as part of a cohort of US mayors joining leaders from around the world at the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, first traveling to Doha in Qatar, and then on to Dubai, in the Arab Emirates. Her office told the press that as part of her international trip, she will discuss matters of sport and infrastructure with foreign dignitaries and will also promote Washington DC as a tourist destination.
This attempt to market Washington DC as an attractive location to visit comes as the city’s violent crime rate continues to rise, having reached levels 40% higher than at the same time last year. While robbery has fallen by a meagre 1%, motor vehicle theft has increased by 96%, and arson by 125%.
Just two weeks ago, Bowser declared a public emergency in the city relating to opioid abuse and youth violence. Youth crime has increased, and with it, underage victims of violence. Between January and October 2023, the number of underage people suffering gunshot wounds, some fatal, was 9% higher than the same period in 2022. One-third of all arrests for carjacking involved juvenile suspects.
A video that went viral on social media in November appeared to show several boys discussing which crimes they would prefer to commit, and which they planned to undertake. One of the boys is said to tell his friends that he would rather commit murder than armed robbery and armed carjacking, as the prison sentence would be lighter. Another boy is heard to declare that “armed robbery” is the crime the group plans to commit. When reporters from Fox 5 DC asked the mayor for a comment on the video, she told them she “won’t be wasting [her] time watching that”.
While Mayor Bowser hopes to present her city as an desirable location to visit and in which to invest, critics have spoken against what they see as an ill-timed departure, with many taking to social media to complain about her priorities. She is scheduled to launch “Black Restaurant Week” upon her return home, which will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new restaurant.
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