Stoneleigh Fellow Richard Greenwald Quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer to Reduce Black Violence

(From the Philadelphia Inquirer)

The slaying of Trayvon Martin has become a watershed incidents in American urban history — one that has pushed the interrelated issues of race and crime into the forefront of the national political and social landscape.

But in virtually every major city in America, young Black and Hispanic males continue to slaughter one another over petty disputes, drug corners and revenge. In Philadelphia the number of homicides has declined in recent months, but as police officials will readily remark, it only take a few bad weekends to push the lower figure of 138 homicides up to the 200 body count for 2013.

The Nutter administration, like other administrations before it has been working hard on the problem and detailed some of its efforts during a press conference at City Hall on Thursday afternoon. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, along with Anne-Marie Ambrose, City Councilman Curtis Jones, Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross and other city officials, detailed the administration’s holistic, long-term approach to combating crime in Philadelphia.

The Police Department’s crime fighting strategies and the Department of Human Services efforts to address pervasive poverty, joblessness and diminished opportunities are showing measurable results. But the disproportionate likelihood of young African-American males to be the victims and perpetrators of crime also continues to persist.

“Over the last 30 days the nation has had a lot of shocks to its system and yes, race has been a big part of it. Trayvon Martin is dead, Trayvon Martin was killed but his death calls us to ask ourselves what can we do to make sure there are no more Trayvon’s. On a daily basis hundreds of Trayvon Martins are killed every day, as Black males kill other Black males,” said Deputy Mayor and Nutter administration Chief of Staff Everett Gillison. “The question is what are we doing to make sure there are no more Trayvons? What are we doing to deal with the violence in our communities?”

Gillison said the Nutter administration, which came into office promising to get a grip on the senseless violence consuming the African-American community, has assembled a huge team of interconnected city agencies, different departments and individuals that not only work in their own sphere but across lines.

He said their efforts are showing results. The approach includes measures, initiatives and programs across city government, in partnership with the state and federal government and community organizations, to focus on public safety, education, workforce and economic development, community trauma and behavioral health, quality of life and human services.

“Our administration has a multifaceted and continuous approach to combat crime,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “We know a true crime-fighting strategy cannot only focus on policing and incarceration; it must address the underlying conditions that contribute to criminal activity. The programs and initiatives in which we are engaged are interrelated and focused on the same goal: reducing crime with a focus on decreasing the number of young Black male casualties in our city.”

City officials also provided an update on the comprehensive, strategic plan to reduce the number of shootings and homicides among youths and young adults in the critical at-risk age group; those between the ages 17-24, in high crime vicinities such as the 22nd Police District.

“In my role as the lead for Philadelphia’s work with the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, we are developing a framework to fundamentally address violence immediately and for decades to come by aligning initiatives and programs that are effective, understanding the impact of those programs on the community, and strategically connecting our assets and resource to reduce violence and save lives,” said Richard Greenwald, Executive Director, Youth Violence Prevention Collaborative/Stoneleigh Fellow.

In a sampling of data from the Philadelphia Police Department, statistics continue to show that Black males systemically bear the brunt of deadly violence in the city. From January 1 to June 30 there were 116 murders in Philadelphia. As of Tribune press time, 40 of the victims and offenders were Black.

“Our work with the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention focuses on multidisciplinary partnerships, data-driven strategies and strong, critical leadership from Mayor Nutter, Commissioner Ramsey and other dedicated officials — like many of our other approaches to tackle public safety concerns. We will continue to use an array of strategies, from police work to education and from poverty reduction to community building, to decrease crime in Philadelphia,” Gillison said.