Today, Everytown for Gun Safety hosted a press call with Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Robin Kelly (D-IL), Community Justice Action Fund Executive Director Greg Jackson, READI Chicago Senior Director Eddie Bocanegra and Everytown’s Senior Director of Community Safety Initiatives Michael-Sean Spence, where participants called for Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act. The Build Back Better Act includes a historic $5 billion investment in community violence intervention that would empower groups doing gun violence prevention work on the ground in communities to stop the shooting before it starts. In August, Everytown announced the creation of the Everytown Community Safety Fund, a new initiative to get resources to community-based violence intervention programs quickly and prepare them for the large influx of federal dollars – including from the existing federal grant programs, the American Rescue Plan, and Build Back Better.
“This is us empowering the community to help the community. The days of the government thinking we’re going to help communities of color in spite of themselves are over,” Richmond said on the call. “We know we have the experience, the talent, and the desire in every community to heal in that community, but most of the time, the resources aren’t there. All of these things we’re doing with equity at the center of it, with families at the center of it, can’t happen unless we pass the Build Back Better Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
“Last year, the country saw the largest one year increase in homicides since record keeping began, and the impact of this increase falls disproportionately on Black men. It is clear that existing federal approaches to preventing violence are not enough,” Rep. Horsford said on the call. “With the Build Back Better Act’s $5 billion investment, we can fund more programs that work, connect our communities with the resources that they need, and, most importantly, save lives.”
“The funding in the Build Back Better Act is going to help so many communities and assist wonderful organizations who are already working to make their cities and towns a safer placefor everybody,” Rep. Kelly said on the call. “I am incredibly grateful for the groups doing work on opportunity building, job training, mentoring, education, and more. Nothing stops a bullet like an opportunity and that’s what these organizations are providing. We have to empower these groups so we have to get the Build Back Better Act passed.”
“In our country, community violence is concentrated in racially segregated, underfunded communities, and this funding provides a path for services, opportunity, and resiliency in Black and brown communities, which have borne the brunt of gun violence for decades,” Spence said on the call. “Fortunately, community-based violence intervention programs have shown success in cities across the country, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Oakland, and the $5 billion investment in the Build Back Better Act will allow groups on the frontlines of reducing gun violence to expand their work and save more lives.”
“This investment of $5 billion is not only helping us save lives, but it’s investing in survivors, it’s investing in family members, and it’s investing in community leaders that are committed and passionate, and who are willing to turn their trauma into triumph by serving their communities,” Jackson said on the call. “So they can use evidence-based and evidence-informed strategies to provide services for victims, to intervene in conflicts, to work with those who are most at risk, but most importantly to help communities and individuals heal.”
“There are individual level, family level, neighborhood level, and community level factors that contribute to gun violence,” Bocanegra said on the call. “If my experience says anything — and I say this as someone who spent 14 years in prison, someone who went to a top university, someone who has implemented many of these programs — it’s that relationships matter. Addressing mental health matters. Jobs also matter… With the investments in the Build Back Better Act, it is my hope that we can go deeper and stronger with those individuals driving violence and those individuals more likely to be victims.”
Community-based violence intervention programs have the hyperlocal expertise and approach essential to reversing these spikes, and they deserve the necessary resources to sustain and expand their life-saving work. As the Biden-Harris Administration has underscored with its historic commitment to support community violence intervention strategies and provide access to federal funds, community-based violence intervention programs will play a crucial role in addressing the country’s gun violence crisis.
Everytown is a member of the Invest In Us Coalition, comprised of community and national violence prevention organizations committed to building support for increased federal funding for evidence-informed community solutions to gun violence and educating leaders and the general public about proactive solutions to make our communities safer.
You can read Everytown’s report on the impact of local community violence interruption here.