As Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf spoke in West Philadelphia to urge community-based violence prevention groups to apply for millions of dollars in grants, another part of West Philly saw four people shot in a drive-by Thursday morning.
Joined by a slew of other Democratic elected officials, Wolf noted that $24 million dollars are available for violence prevention efforts through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. As they spoke, gunfire rang out only about two miles away.
“All across the state, gun violence statistics are worse than they have been in the past. And gun violence, like so many forms of systemic inequity, disproportionately harms communities of color and historically marginalized communities,” Wolf said at the West Philadelphia branch of the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, which earlier this month was approved for a grant expanding its violence prevention efforts.
As legislators gave their remarks, a drive-by shooting on 38th and Aspen streets in West Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood wounded four men and forced the nearby Morton McMichael School to lock down, underscoring how pervasive gun violence has become.
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In another strange coincidence, state Rep. Donna Bullock had only minutes earlier noted that just last week, her 10-year-old son’s school had to be locked down when gunfire rang out at a high school around the corner.
“It is too normal, and I failed to mention the nights that we went to sleep and heard gunshots, not knowing if anybody was wounded by those shots, not knowing what the story would be when we wake up in the morning because it’s so normal that the gunshots are just crickets to us; it’s part of our normal day of life,” Bullock said.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes stressed the importance of community-based groups in helping to stem such violence, noting that the violence prevention grants are structured in such a way as to ensure those groups are “at the front of the line” to receive funding.
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Groups that can qualify for the grants include community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, municipalities, district attorneys and counties. The PCCD will oversee how funds are spent, Hughes said.
The deadline to apply for the latest round of grants is Oct. 15. Applications can be filed through the PCCD website.
“These are the organizations that are in these communities, in our communities, fighting the fight on a daily basis, historically under-resourced, and now we’re trying to get them some additional resources so that they can improve on their successes and so that we can win this fight,” Hughes said.
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.