We're Solving Philly's (& Everyone Else's) Violent Crime Problem Tomorrow
Strategies unveiled in Philadelphia tomorrow can be used in any city or place and by any community looking for the ultimate solution to violence plaguing their communities today
an ecoWURD feature
As mid-term and state elections near, America calls itself having a conversation about violent crime. And we sure are: the wrong one … again. What we’re actually having is not at all a conversation, but yet another dangerous replay of sinister agendas - from anti-Black politicians to unscrupulous police union lobbies looking to get paid - tugging at scared community heart and purse strings. It’s a conversation that lazily presents mere hiring of more police and unbridled expansion of the prison industrial complex. When violence spikes in already underserved, already marginalized Black neighborhoods, political leaders offer no other solution beyond the brainless, knee-jerk demand for “more police.” They are conversations void of reason, born in racism, lacking in intelligence and absent any reference to research or data showing a variety of investments and easily implementable strategies that actually do work.
It's important to understand then radically upend the conversation around violence in America, and to especially reshape and correct our notions around what violence is that disproportionately hits Black communities. The sooner we do that is the sooner we discover the true fixes and true ways we can keep our communities fully protected and perpetually prospering. For example, we know that the problem of violence on Black Philadelphia is not just from guns. It's hitting us from everywhere — and it's being done through our environment.
Which means we actually do have solutions to our violence problem. We’ll be presenting those solutions and planning how we carry them out during our 4th Annual ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit, an annual event that will focus on reducing crime, cleaning neighborhoods, greening spaces, and finally taking urgent action. The Summit takes place tomorrow on Monday, October 10, 2022 from Noon to 4 p.m. at Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd. in Philadelphia, PA. The summit will also be broadcast live on WURD (900AM | 96.1FM in Philly or streamed LIVE at wurdradio.com) and captured on social media at #ecoWURD.
These strategies can be used in any city or place, in any space and by any community searching for the ultimate solution to violence plaguing their communities. We have those answers.
The 2022 theme is to “Respect and Protect Our Spaces” and is held against the backdrop of a Philadelphia in constant crisis. In the wake of recent escalations in violence, rising homicide and environmental incidents that harm air quality, the summit will roll out ecoWURD’s ambitious #PHLBlockbyBlock effort to create conversations that aim to galvanize both Philadelphia residents and officials to: 1) make a direct linkage between violence and the state of the environment or the spaces we live in to then; 2) use the environment to solve our violence crisis and; 3) treat the environment as a top problem for our communities rooted in systemic racism.
Once we invest in and fix the environment and the spaces we live in, we will absolutely fix our violence problem. One reason we haven’t yet solved or fixed our violence problem is because we keep overlooking the enormous environmental problems that continue to hurt our communities the most. When a place is as poisoned and toxic as Philadelphia is, we should absolutely expect violence. So, how do we reverse that pattern and not expect it anymore? We simply clean, green, heal, fix and grow the spaces we live in.
The more we view violence as an environmental problem, the sooner we will be able to fix it. We also must expand our definition of violence in places like Philadelphia and elsewhere. It's not just the guns that are killing Black people in Philadelphia …
It's the violence of totally preventable junkyard fires that poison our air with toxins.
It's the violence of so much air pollution that makes Philly a Top 10 Asthma Capital, with our Black children the most impacted.
It's the violence of the city not removing toxins like lead and asbestos, leaving these materials in old school buildings to make our children sick.
It's the violence of natural gas refineries in Black neighborhoods in North and Southwest Philly that cause us to have the most respiratory illnesses and die from the most cancers of any other group.
It's the violence of illegal drug paraphernalia stores that end up in our neighborhoods and are never shut down.
It's the violence of rent that is too high for us to afford and houses that are too expensive to buy, leaving many of us housing insecure.
All of these forms of violence come from an institutional or corporate source that, truth be told, is owned, run and managed by people who believe our lives do not matter - and that we are expendable.
Hence, the solution to a gun violence problem isn’t pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a police force that struggles to clear homicide cases. 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 erecting the infrastructure that we keeps it from happening in the first place. This is how we save our communities Block by Block.
Research proves reactionary policies like hiring more police or relying heavily on stop-and-frisk is a failure against rising 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.
If we clean up all the trash, violent crime drops by 10 percent.
If we plant just 10 percent more trees, violent crime drops by 12 percent.
If we restore and upgrade all houses, violent crime drops by 22 percent.
Through these four simple strategies above and others, we can eliminate upward of 74 percent of the violent crime in Philadelphia. We also create workforce opportunities and expand local economies by encouraging the community entrepreneurship and jobs needed to do this work.
When a place is as poisoned and toxic as Philly is, we should absolutely expect violence. And when we fix and care for the environment — the spaces we live in — we will not only fix our violence problem, but set the stage for years of community prosperity. Let’s stop relying on what sounds good in the moment so we can finally benefit from the solutions that actually work.