Parks, grants among Philadelphia's efforts to curtail gun violence

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,800 people had been shot in the city so far in 2021.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A peaceful park hardly seems like the place to talk about gun violence, but the topic is unavoidable - even in the serene setting of FDR Park in South Philadelphia.

"We have to make sure we provide safe spaces for young people," said City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (District 2 - Philadelphia) after speaking at an event which detailed a $50 million investment in the park.

"There are investments in all parks across Philadelphia," said Johnson. He said there's a push to make parks safer and more appealing to residents who have been hounded by what could be a record-setting year for violence in the city of Philadelphia.

Our 6abc data team says that Philadelphia is on track to see the highest number of people shot and killed in at least the past six years. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,800 people had been shot in the city so far in 2021.

"We're keeping at it. It's frustrating," said Mayor Jim Kenney of the city's efforts to curtail the violence.

Philadelphia has committed to investing $155 million towards violence prevention. Twenty million dollars will be administered to community organizations in the form of grants. Stanley Crawford applied for some of that grant funding to aid in the mission of his organization, The Black Male Community Council of Philadelphia.

"What our people need is to see Black men like us in their presence doing positive things," said Crawford. He started the organization after his son was tragically murdered in 2018.

His organization thinks stopping the violence takes collaboration between the community, city leadership, law enforcement and others. He takes a four-pronged approach: security, education, cleaning, mediation.

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"We've mediated numerous situations that did not turn into death or harming each other," he said, adding that the organization also participates in community clean-ups and efforts to ensure the safety and security of children and the elderly.

Johnson says that organizations like Crawford's that applied for the grant funding should find out whether they've received it in the next month or two.

"In the past year, grants only went up to $20,000. This year we extended it to $50,000. But for organizations who have been doing this for years and have a larger capacity, you can go up to a million dollars," he said.

It's money Crawford says could be put to good use in his mission to stop the violence.

"Let's come out of our silos and come together for a solution."
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