The Washington chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements applauding the Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, for a 2021 budget that prioritizes gun safety and community-led interventions:
“Budgeting matters, and once again Seattle is a leading city for gun violence prevention,” said Elisa Ruehlmann, a volunteer leader with the Washington chapter of Moms Demand Action. “I’m proud to continue to support our community partners who have spent decades leading this work.”
“Black and Latino communities have been advocating for years for their own solutions to gun violence— and clearly the city has listened,” said Talia LeVine, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Seattle. “This budget is just the first step in combating gun violence that continues to plague Seattle.”
The budget allocates $30 million toward a community-led Participatory Budgeting process, $12 million for community-led safety efforts, and creates a new Community Safety and Communications Center, an independent entity that aligns with alternative 9-1-1 dispatch solutions, that can help reduce police shootings. Last week, King County also made similar investments in its budget by allocating $6.2 million for Restorative Community Pathways, a restorative justice program.
Gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on Black and Latino communities in the United States, due to systemic inequities and deliberate policy decisions that create segregated neighborhoods and drive income inequality in marginalized communities. And gun violence in Washington, particularly Seattle, has shown no sign of slowing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community-based violence intervention and prevention programs apply localized approaches that are well-suited to address gun violence in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. These programs, such as Community Passageways and Choose 180, identify individuals who are at the highest risk of being exposed to gun violence and work to reduce that violence through targeted interventions that include de-escalating potentially violent conflicts, providing case management support services, and transforming community norms around violence.
On average, more than 750 Washingtonians die by guns each year, including 175 people who are killed in gun homicides. In Washington, Black people in the United States are six times more likely to be the victims of gun homicides than their white peers, compared to 10 times nationwide.