Young Black men and teens are killed by gun violence 20 times more than their white peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
A recently released CDC report, “A Public Health Crisis in the Making,” revealed that although Black men and boys age 15 to 34 make up just 2 percent of the nation’s population, they were among 37 percent of gun homicides in 2019, USA Today reported.
One city that has been gripped by gun violence in Knoxville, Tenn. In the first 47 days of 2021, the city experienced 12 homicides, mainly due to gun violence and mainly affecting young Black men.
A national organization is looking to change this. Cities United, launched in 2011, is working with 130 mayors across the country to stop gun violence involving Black men and teens. Participants intend to reduce homicides in their cities by 50 percent by the year 2025.
Gun violence in Black America has spiked as guns have become more readily available. Gun control advocates say that stronger restrictions are needed and most statistics back them up.
“So what you see is that as gun availability increases, a higher percentage of the crimes are committed with guns, and as a result, there are more deaths than there would be otherwise,” said Philip Cook, a professor emeritus of public policy at Duke University, in an Intercept interview.
The Cities United movement is developing a “violence prevention and interruption plan” that would stop cycles of violence before and after incidents occur, WBIR reported. And it’s working with city leaders in Knoxville to do just that.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon announced that $1 million will go towards resources to stop gun violence in the coming years. The money will be earmarked for the Community Empowerment Fund. Kincannon referenced work done by Cities United while announcing the fund.
“Cities United staff is working closest with the Office of Community Empowerment to develop violence interruption programs and strategies that engage, uplift, and strengthen young people and their peers, families, volunteers, and neighborhoods,” said Tatia Harris, Knoxville’s diversity and inclusion officer. The city’s relationship with Louisville-based Cities United began in 2015.
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Cities United has embarked on a nationwide effort to squash gun violence. It offers coaching, resources, plans, and models supporting mayors seeing to end homicides and shootings among Black men and teens, Knox News reported.
Supporters of City United include Amnesty International, Levi’s, the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, and Walmart.
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