Gun violence plays out every single day in Black and brown communities across the United States — where homicide is the leading cause of death for Black boys and men and the second leading cause for young Latino men, wrote Fatimah Loren Dreier and David Muhammad in the Washington Post. The hardest hit are young Black men ages 15 to 34, who make up just 2 percent of the population yet account for an astounding 37 percent of all gun homicide victims. Much of this violence stems from systemic racism that has led to pervasive inequalities such as poverty, barriers to health care, and insufficient educational and economic opportunities.
Over the past 20 years, while the rest of the country has largely ignored their plight, communities of color and their allies have taken matters into their own hands. With few resources but a wealth of dedication and ingenuity, they have devised a slate of innovative strategies that — if effectively implemented and adequately funded — could end the scourge of cyclical gun violence.
Though the specifics may vary, evidence suggests that the most effective approaches integrate a range of coordinated strategies that identify individuals at greatest risk of violence, leverage credible messengers who coordinate wraparound services, and monitor healing and growth through long-term engagement. Examples include street outreach, hospital-based violence intervention, the Oakland Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, Peacemaker Fellowships, community-based public safety and targeted trauma-informed care.
President Biden pledged to support these efforts through a $900 million investment over eight years. Shortly after he took office, his director of domestic policy, Susan Rice, met with leaders of community violence intervention organizations, who argued for a $5 billion, eight-year investment in cities plagued by the highest rates of gun violence. Last month, Biden released his American Jobs Plan, which calls on Congress to make the $5 billion investment proposed by advocates. And in a Rose Garden ceremony this month, he announced changes to 26 grant programs that will direct an additional $1 billion in vital support to violence intervention in Black and brown communities.
Biden’s actions to support community violence intervention are truly historic. Now, Congress must pass the president’s American Jobs Plan — including the $5 billion investment in community violence intervention. Instead of more heartbreaking tragedies and shocking statistics, let’s put these young men on the path to a better, more peaceful life.
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