Commentary

Philly’s Black youth offer solutions to city’s gun violence problem | Monday Morning Coffee

More jobs, less mass incarceration: Those were among the recommendations made in a report by the advocacy group ManUpPHL

November 29, 2021 7:23 am

Solomon Jones, the founder of ManUpPHL and a WURD radio host, said his group ‘decided to gather some data about the causes, effects and solutions around gun violence’ (Philadelphia Tribune file photo).

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Researchers have spent countless hours looking for solutions to the nation’s ongoing struggle with gun violence — their conclusions have filled volumes.

But, as our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune recently reported, when one Philadelphia-based advocacy group went searching for solutions, they turned to the people most often impacted by the ongoing public health threat: Young Black men.

“We decided to gather some data about the causes, effects and solutions around gun violence,” Solomon Jones, the executive director and founder of the advocacy group, ManUpPHL, told the Tribune last week, as his organization released a 27-page report on its “Listening to the Streets” initiative.

Brian Ellis, a Drexel University business professor, and the group’s chairperson, drew up a list of questions, and submitted them to a group of 30 young Black men, some of whom were also interviewed. Participants were given a stipend of $240, meals and a guaranteed job offer, according to the Tribune.

They came up with five recommendations:

  • “Partner 10 incarcerated leaders with 10 agencies, to address gun violence inside out,
  • “Create 300 jobs for at-risk youth,
  • “Create a parallel educational experience for at-risk school students,”
  • “Create mental health sub-stations in at-risk communities,” and
  • “Train and develop resource coordinators for at-risk youth to provide tangible alternative resources,” the Tribune reported.

According to the TribuneJones, who is also a host on WURD-Radio, “called on businesses, nonprofits, sports franchises and educational institutions to look at the study’s recommendations.”

“They talked about education being a problem, mass incarceration, lack of job opportunities, and they talked about mental health,” Jones told the newspaper.

(Image via The Philadelphia Tribune)

Efforts by Jones and his organization have come even as the Republican-controlled state Legislature sent legislation to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this month that gun violence reduction advocates say will only make the state’s gun problem worse.

Wolf is expected to veto the bills, one of which would allow anyone, aged 18 or order, to carry a loaded, concealed weapon in public without a permit, as the Capital-Star has previously reported.

“Let that sink in a minute,” Adam Garber of the gun-violence reduction group, CeaseFire PAwrote in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-Ed just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

If, in some alternative universe, it had been allowed to become law, the bill would have allowed “the person next to you on the subway, at the deli counter, or at the grocery store,” to carry a “hidden firearm,” Garber wrote.

“Such a law would dismantle the existing concealed carry permit process, which includes enhanced safeguards to help law enforcement ensure concealed firearm carriers do not endanger public safety,” he continued. “It would also allow for open carry of a firearm without a permit in the City of Philadelphia.”

That has particularly deadly implications for the state’s largest city, Garber wrote.

While 1,500 people a year statewide lose their lives to gun violence, this scourge is “hollowing out a generation of Philadelphians with 60% more shooting victims under 18 so far this year than in all of 2019,” Garber wrote.

“There isn’t a part of the commonwealth from York to Erie to Pittsburgh that isn’t seeing the same deadly violence,” Garber wrote “But instead of debating numerous evidence-based solutions, the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted this month to make our commonwealth an even less safe place to live.”

And that makes the noble work that Jones and others are doing to save lives and to prevent future violence even harder.

And while that’s infuriating and saddening, it is also a kind of policy-making that is all-too-typical in Harrisburg where lawmakers rarely see the through-lines between their votes and their ground-level impact on citizens.

That point was hammered home in a recent Capital-Star op-Ed by Sen. Nikil Saval and Rep. Rich Krajewski, both Philadelphia Democrats. And while they focused on the Legislature’s seemingly endless addiction to passing new criminal offenses and sentences with little regard to their economic or public policy impact, their underlying argument is just as applicable here.

Taking a deep breath and considering whether their actions serve a broader, public good isn’t only smart politics, it’s also “a matter of human rights, of economic and fiscal responsibility, of public health, and of equity and justice,” they wrote.

That’s too often lost in the mix in the Capitol.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
Sure, the supply chain is a nightmare, but retailers are expecting a big 2021 holiday seasonCassie Miller dives into the data in this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

In today’s edition of Helping the Helpers, our partners at the Uniontown Herald-Standard highlight the efforts of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania.

In a special report, our friends at Stateline.org explain why rural leaders fear they’ll miss out on infrastructure money.

Speaking of infrastructure, Pennsylvania ranks 39th nationwide for the condition and cost-effectiveness of its highways, according to a recent study. Details on how the commonwealth stacks up to its neighbors, and more, via me.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Big Oil’s pivot to carbon capture and storage, as it keeps drilling, isn’t a climate solution, two energy scholars write. And three Pennsylvania experts explain how the state can super-charge its electric vehicle future.

Transmission lines in Louisa County, Va. (Photo by Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Elsewhere.

Electricity prices will rise statewide by as much as 50 percent this week. The Inquirer has tips on how you can save money.

More than 100 people have died by homicide in Allegheny County so far this year, marking the second year of triple-digit deaths, the Post-Gazette reports.

PennLive explains how implicit racial bias is a barrier to access to healthcare in the region.

A day after it was found vandalized, hundreds gathered to watch the lighting of the Lancaster City menorah, LancasterOnline reports.

State officials are struggling to get a handle on drug overdose deaths, the Morning Call reports.

Officials in Scranton have settled lawsuits against the city’s code enforcement office for $1.1 million, the Times-Tribune reports (paywall).

WHYY-FM looks at SEPTA’s transition to a zero-emissions future.

The Associated Press looks at the reshuffling of the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania (via WITF-FM).

A veteran FBI agent in Erie has been tapped to run the agency’s regional officeGoErie reports.

State lawmakers’ anti-vaccine bills may end up proving mostly symbolicStateline.org reports.

With control of Congress on the line, Democrats are taking President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda out on the trail, touting its benefits to votersRoll Call reports.

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What Goes On
1 p.m., 418 MC: House Democratic Policy Committee

WolfWatch
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation
What’s better than one Paul Weller song? How about a whole playlist of the Modfather’s 30 greatest songs? The Guardian compiled just such a list last Friday. And here it is to power you through your Monday morning.


Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
With their season off to a disastrous start, the Montreal Canadiens have fired team General Manager Marc Bergevin, NHL.com reports.  The Habs are mired in seventh place in the Atlantic Division after reaching the Stanley Cup final last season.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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