Nov 22, 2021 - News

5 recommendations from young Black men to tackle Philadelphia's gun crisis

Data: Philadelphia Police Department; Chart: Axios
Data: Philadelphia Police Department; Chart: Axios

A new study from anti-gun violence nonprofit ManUpPHL offers solutions to the city’s gun violence crisis from those most at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of that violence — young Black men.

Why it matters: Their experiences around gun violence and the behaviors that drive the city’s gun culture are absent from most research, said ManUpPHL board chairperson Brian Ellis.

  • The findings are based on hours of conversations with nine young Black men aged 19-35 living in communities plagued by gunfire.
  • "We all try to come up with solutions, but no one’s ever asked them what could be done," said Ellis, an expert in global leadership and a qualitative researcher.

The recommendations:

  1. Develop a program with community groups for incarcerated individuals to serve as mentors to other inmates who will be at risk of violence when they leave prison or jail.
  2. Create 300 jobs for at-risk individuals.
  3. Establish a new educational experience for middle and high school students at risk of gun violence.
  4. Set up mental health substations in communities affected by violence.
  5. Train individuals to connect those engaged in gun violence with resources and alternatives.

What they’re saying: Many anti-violence programs are "not based on the realities of what these men are going through, what these young men have come from, what these young men will respond to," said ManUpPHL executive director Solomon Jones.

  • "In order for them to be part of the solution, they need to be engaged in it," he added.

Zoom out: Homicides reached 491 this weekend, up 13% from the same time last year, according to the police department’s online dashboard. Killings are on track to surpass 500 for the year, topping the city’s record high set in 1990.

  • Violence disproportionately affects Black residents, who accounted for 82% of homicides and 85% of shooting victims as of Friday, according to police.
  • Young Black men aged 18-34 made up the majority of all homicides (252) as of Friday.
  • Homicide is the leading cause of death for Black men under 45, according to the CDC.

What’s next: Jones called on the city’s corporations, nonprofits, sports franchises, universities and medical schools to take up the study’s recommendations.

  • City government lacks the capacity to quickly address the violence in Philadelphia, he said.
  • "We’re in an emergency. … There are organizations and people in the community that can make this stuff happen quickly," he added.

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