A criminal justice reform advocate who helped pass sweeping changes to the criminal code including reducing sentences for those convicted of crimes in Washington, D.C., was shot and killed in the city last Tuesday, just hours before the city council passed the bill.
Kelvin Blowe, 32, worked as a policy and advocacy associate at DC Justice Lab and testified before the DC city council about reforming the city’s justice system.
Around 5:25 a.m. on Nov. 15, he was on the way home from his job as a security guard when he was shot and killed in the southeastern part of the city.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words what it feels like to see his work come to fruition without being able to share in that celebration with him,” Patrice Sulton, Executive Director DC Justice Lab, told Fox 5 DC. “In some ways the timing of it is an added injury on top of the loss. And I think we lost a really powerful voice in a really important movement and that’s not something that we’ll be able to replace.”
The city council passed the criminal justice overhaul hours after his death. If it is signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, then it will get rid of most mandatory minimum sentences, expand who is eligible for jury trials, and reduce maximum penalties for burglaries, carjackings and robberies, according to the Washington Post.
Blowe, a Marine Corps veteran, struggled with PTSD and drugs after getting out of the military, leading to a 66-month prison sentence. His time behind bars inspired him to help others navigate society after being incarcerated.
“We have to learn to love each other and bring the city together – that’s what my nephew was trying to do,” Rev Keith Johnson, Blowe’s uncle who helped raise him and his brothers, told Fox 5 DC.
DC police said Monday that there have been no developments in the investigation into Blowe’s killing.