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We asked young Black men how to stop gun violence. A study was born.

As we approach 500 homicides in Philadelphia, I didn’t think we could go any lower than the rash of shootings that have taken children and mothers, fathers and sons. But then I heard about the pregnant woman who was shot in the head and the stomach, killing both the woman and her child.

This is why I started ManUpPHL, to stop the violence that’s claiming so many lives in the Black community, and this is why we focused on the young Black men at the center of most of the shootings.

Today, we’ll release a study based on hours of recorded conversations with Black men who’ve been shot, faced gun charges, or lived in communities where gunfire is a regular occurrence. Written by ManUpPHL Board Chair Dr. Brian Ellis, the study takes an academic look at gun violence through the eyes of the men who’ve lived it.

The men who participated made five central recommendations, and we are calling on different segments of our community to help carry them out.

First, we call on local universities to partner with neighborhood schools, creating a new educational pipeline for students who are threatened by gun violence. Second, we call on the prison system to use incarcerated leaders to fight gun violence from inside the prison walls. Third, we call on medical schools to bring mental health substations to our communities. Fourth, we call on corporations to create jobs for returning citizens, and government to give them tax incentives for doing it. Fifth, we call on our sports industry to fund community-based resource connectors to steer young people to proven and effective help.

Because here’s the bottom line. We can let gun violence destroy our communities. Or we can listen to the men who’ve lived it. This study gives us their roadmap to change. Now it’s up to us to follow it.

Photo: Philadelphia By. Peter Miller

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