'We need more help': Philly groups receive nearly $1M in grants in fight against gun violence
PHILADELPHIA - Gun violence continues to plague the streets of Philadelphia, becoming more frequent and senseless over time. However, the District Attorney's Office is making a shift, trying to bring the focus back to community solutions.
"I should say, be available to answer some questions about the homicide death of the 14-year-old, which occurred over the weekend," DA Larry Krasner said during a recent weekly gun violence press conference.
Instead, the Philadelphia official took the opportunity to address the most common complaint from community groups out on the street doing the work to combat violence.
"There will be more forfeiture money distributed within a few weeks, and we want to make sure that every nonprofit organization in Philadelphia is aware of this and understands the details of how they can apply," Krasner said.
These groups say they need help, but they are too busy trying to save lives to apply for grants or raise money.
The DA’s office says they can provide directly to the neighborhoods that need it the most using seized drug forfeiture funds.
"We try to take the money that came from a particular zip code and put that money back into the zip code because we do not think that drug dealers and other people who engage in criminal activity should be tearing apart that neighborhood," Krasner says. "We feel the money should go back in there to be reinvested to try to prevent further violence in that neighborhood."
So far, the DA's Office has granted a total $950,000 to 43 organizations across Philadelphia.
While the sums of money may not be large, it's the first step in healing some communities.
"We need to make sure people's basic needs are met before, or we can try to teach them before we can try to, to reach them," said Kyle "The Conductor" Morris, leader of the ECO Foundation. "It's essential that they have food and housing and everything else."
Kyle knows first hand the lasting damage being done, and that the community has to take on the challenge together.
"When I was shot, somebody stole someone's Timberlands. Something out of a 90s movie," he said. "This is how it started. Even though we shook hands and squashed it, one of them still wanted to fight."
He went on to stress how important it is for resources and intervention to be available immediately if we really want to see things get better.
"These things happen fast. I went from eating mac and cheese and playing Taboo, to sitting on a stretcher giving my mom's phone number before I passed out. That's how fast these things go."
The District Attorney’s Office wants to make sure people know about these resources, and how to apply, but it was also a wake-up call that the violence prevention funds being spent are not enough or at least not getting to the neighborhoods in need, and we must do more and better to save our streets.
"We need more resources. We need more help."