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Philly spending on gun violence must be about saving lives

As gun violence rages in Philadelphia, the city has made it a budget priority. But much of the $68 million in the city’s anti-violence budget is money that was already there, according to the Inquirer. For instance, some money for parks, recreation centers and libraries has now been reclassified as anti-violence spending.

So, in reality, there’s about $27 million in new money for anti-violence programs, and that money is going to new curfew centers, the Commerce Department, and community grants.

The community part is where the tough decisions will have to be made, and in truth, violence can only be stopped at the community level, because the violence is personal. It’s about drug dealers who know each other, and arguments between acquaintances, and young men who come from broken homes, broken communities, and a series of broken promises.

When parents promise to love them and they don’t, the result is violence. When schools promise to educate them and they don’t, the result is violence. When society promises opportunity, but reneges, the result is violence. No housing. Violence. No jobs. Violence. No love. Violence. No hope. Violence.

The mass incarceration that took fathers out of homes led to violence. The generational poverty spurred by racism led to violence. A school system spending billions on everything but education led to violence. And now that the Black children who’ve lived through those betrayals are old enough to hold weapons, they believe America’s message that money is the solution to everything, and to get it, they resort to violence.

This violence didn’t pop up out of nowhere. It was born in communities that have been set up to fail. So, as City Council and the Mayor seek to decide who gets that money, there should be only one criteria. Give it to those who can set up our people to live.

Photo: Philadelphia By. Peter Miller

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