Want to End Gun Violence in Philly Now? Save it Block by Block
BEPhilly: ecoWURD launches a “place-based strategies”-focused information and advocacy campaign at #PHLBlockbyBlock
an ecoWURD feature
As murders in Philadelphia reached a sobering 300-victim milestone this week - along with more than 1,300 people who’ve been non-fatally shot - we should consider that Philadelphia could easily reduce its gun violence crisis by nearly 75 percent. Even better, we could do it without arresting a single person, funneling another dollar into the police department or waiting for state legislatures to pass gun control laws. How? Through a combination of what’s called “place-based strategies.” This is the theme behind ecoWURD’s bold new information and advocacy campaign called “Philly Block by Block.”
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. Every #PHLBlockbyBlock strategy is backed by research. Each one has been field tested. They produce an almost immediate result and return on investment - and they intentionally work to protect the people that need them most first. They are also Black-centric, green-driven and jobs-growing. And ecoWURD, our environmental justice journalism initiative, is starting the movement today to make it happen.
Gun violence in Black communities doesn’t happen because some people are just more violent than others. It happens because some environments produce more violence than others. An egg isn’t going to cook all on its own. The pan must be hot first for that to happen. A seed doesn’t grow unless it’s planted in healthy soil - and a community isn’t going to suffer from neighborhood gun violence unless its blocks have suffered from generations of disinvestment and neglect.
That’s why it's no coincidence that the blocks with the most trash, the fewest trees, the most dilapidated housing, and the fewest clean outdoor spaces are the ones suffering the most gun violence. This lack of secure personal and public space creates the perfect environment for violence to grow and boil over. Seed, meet soil. Egg, meet pan.
Not only does violence thrive in these environments, we can see that it can’t sustain itself in communities where investments are made. It feeds off neglected spaces. It is also no coincidence that the communities with the most secure housing, the most trees, the cleanest streets, and the greenest spaces do not suffer from high levels of violent crime. No pan, no eggs. No soil, no growth.
The solution to the gun violence problem isn’t pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a police force that struggles to clear homicide cases (yet, seems to have very few problems with over-incarcerating Black people). We know for a fact we aren’t going to stop gun violence with hyped broken windows strategies and failed stop-and-frisk programs. The solution is to stop forcing people to live in environments that produce violence and start putting in the infrastructure that we know prevents it. This is how we save Philly, Block by Block.
Research proves a reactionary policy like stop-and-frisk is a failure against gun violence. Yet, on the flip side, research proves a combination of the following four strategies is a complete success against gun violence …
- If we restore every vacant lot in Philadelphia, violent crime drops by 30 percent
- It we clean up all the trash, violent crime drops by nearly 10 percent
- If we plant just 10 percent more trees, violent crime drops by 12 percent
- If we restore and upgrade all of our houses, violent crime drops by 22 percent
Through these four simple strategies above, we can eliminate upwards of 74 percent of the violent crime in the city of Philadelphia. We also force policymakers, public officials and influential business and academic institutions to make the necessary investments in communities that are critical to the fabric of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s combined gross domestic product is nearly $120 billion, it is one of the Top 10 most wealthy metropolitan areas in the nation. Hence, there is no reason these investments can’t be made: We can create and expand local economies by encouraging the community entrepreneurship and jobs that are needed to do this work.
So instead of allowing violence and armed police officers to take over our communities, let’s demand better - let's invest and take back Philly Block by Block. Join us during WURD’s Summer of Freedom Love Tour throughout July and August as we learn more about the real way we end most of Philadelphia’s gun violence: through 1) investments, 2) improving our environment and 3) creating thousands of jobs as we do it. You can join the movement today by telling us how you're improving and protecting the spaces you live in by sharing your strategy at #PHLBlockbyBlock and by joining us on our Summer of Freedom Love Tour. We’re going to educate, inform, and mobilize to pressure policymakers into making these investments happen. That’s because we’re ready to help you take Philly back one block at a time - and to take it back permanently.