Ronald Moten, co-founder of Peaceoholics, and nearly a dozen other community activists staked out Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray's (D) office this afternoon demanding to meet with him regarding recent budget cuts.
The protest follows a series of events at the John A. Wilson Building on Wednesday where activists could speak out against the D.C. Council's decision to eliminate funding for most earmarks to help balance the budget.
"We are not going anywhere," Moten said while he waited for Gray. "We need to talk about what we are going to do to change this."
Earlier today, about three-dozen people representing various organizations picketed the Wilson Building, demanding that their funding be restored. The members of the groups said they were vital components of the city's efforts to combat crime. Moten distributed a list of 60 shootings that occurred in the District in August.
"Without community organization services and continued commitment to strategies of prevention and intervention, how will we stop the rise of violence and poverty in our nations capital?" the coalition, Citizens United, asked in a statement.
Gray pushed in July to eliminate earmarks to help close a $666 million budget shortfall over three years. At the time, the council was struggling to respond to the controversy over Council member Marion Barry's (D-Ward 8) use of earmarks in Ward 8.
"The safety nets are gone for a lot of these disadvantaged programs," said Brenda Jones of the Parklands Community Center, who said her city funding has dropped from $200,000 annually to zero. "We have been providing social services for nearly 30 years in this city. We are hoping to continue to partner with the city."
After waiting about a half hour, the protesters left Gray's office after learning he left the building.
"We'll be back next week," Moten said.
-- Tim Craig