The Biden administration on Wednesday (June 23) announced a five-point proposal to curb the recent spike in gun violence throughout the country. The plan includes a boost in funding for local law enforcement so that they can expand and better manage violent crimes during the summer months. Activists, however, believe this plan misses the mark.
The White House’s proposal states homicides rose 30 percent, and gun assaults rose 8 percent in large cities. Additionally, homicides in the first quarter of 2021 were 24 percent higher than those in 2020, and 49 percent higher than in 2019. According to NPR, a senior Biden official told reporters on Tuesday, June 22, that states will be able to use money alloted by the American Rescue Plan in order to fight gun violence. The official also said that funds “awarded via the COVID-19 relief law can be used to hire additional police officers and pay out overtime, as well as to assist in funding employment opportunities for youths and at-risk adults.”
As NPR reports, Democratic moderates and progressives have so far failed to align around the topic of policing and particularly how police officers should engage with communities of color. Erica Ford, CEO and founder of LIFE Camp, Inc., spoke to Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman about the White House’s announcement, and said increasing support for law enforcement isn’t going to solve this country’s problems with gun violence. Instead, she said that community-based anti-violence work, which involves “the people who are closest to the problem bringing the resolution and addressing it from the perspective of a holistic and comprehensive approach,” would better benefit communities most impacted by gun violence.
“What we developed here in New York City was the New York City Crisis Management System. It is over 35 different sites, over 60 organizations, that co-produce public safety,” Ford said. “That means we not only take the gun out of the hands, that we help the people heal on both sides of the gun from the trauma of violence, that we deal with it from the perspective of response, recovery, mitigation and prevention.”
Anti-violence activist Becky Ceartas, the Executive Director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Action Fund, echoed Ford’s sentiments about the importance of community violence intervention programs while speaking to her local ABC News.
“These are evidenced-based programs that have been proven to save lives. In fact they’ve been proven to prevent violence up to 60% in some communities. And these are programs that we do have some in North Carolina, but they need to expand,” she said.
The rise in gun violence, Ford told Democracy Now, is due to a “a lack of resources” in many communities, which means that increased policing won’t help the problem. “There’s no job opportunities. There’s no education opportunities,” she said. “These preconditions that we face in our community help the disease of violence rise to a level that is unaddressable at the time because we don’t have the tools and resources to address them.”