The Key To Fighting Gun Violence Is Investment In The Community, Not More Policing
Black communities know too well that policing doesn’t prevent violence, strong communities do.
June 02, 2021 at 5:15 pm
Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
In the shadow of George Floyd’s murder last year, many of us remember exactly where we were in the hours, days and months that followed. We spent our summer in the blazing streets of our communities bringing to life a revolution that echoed the demands of justice for Black life. For Black activists fighting the epidemic of gun violence in America, this historic uprising also brought a long-overdue reckoning to our movement, giving credence to the tiring work we’ve been doing for years: treating police violence as gun violence.
As two Black men, we navigate a deadlier America. The same structural and social violences that killed George Floyd make us, and Black America, too vulnerable. The harrowing reality is that police killings are the sixth leading cause of death among all young men in America, but Black men, in particular, are more than twice as likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men. None of us can ever truly be safe as long as this country continues to rely on officers armed with guns and impunity, instead of investing in communities suffering most from neglect and support from predatory incarceration, failing education system, housing instability, concentrated poverty, the mental health crisis and the root causes that fuel the cycle of violence taking Black lives every day.
State-sanctioned violence often flows from the barrel of a gun, and confronting it is an inseparable part of fighting gun violence. Ma'Khia Bryant's life was taken at the end of a police officer’s gun. So was the life of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice. There are countless instances where a gun isn’t the ultimate cause of death, but the mere presence of a weapon, wielded by officers in an unequal justice system, is enough to threaten and steal Black life. This is how armed supremacy or state violence work: you control a population through force and a never-ending hostile presence.
Black communities know too well that policing doesn’t prevent violence, strong communities do. We belong to The Invest in Us coalition, which is fighting for just that, and we’re fighting to secure a $5 billion commitment from the Biden administration that turns the traditional thinking of how to achieve safer communities on its head. For the first time ever, rather than flooding our streets with more cops, this could provide substantial and dedicated financial support to evidence-based community-led programs that stop violence from happening in the first place. This community-focused approach was created by and has been led by the people on the frontlines of this movement.
Community-led solutions like Cure Violence and Hospital Based Interventions have the potential to address gun and structural violence as a public health issue. Most importantly, these solutions were created and led by the very people on the frontlines of these communities and who will benefit from the policies they are advocating to implement.
Progress for Black communities has never been won easily, but now we are fighting in a movement united in knowing that police violence is gun violence. Now, sustained advocacy and investment are needed to make a lasting impact. With this clarity, we need to call in a unified voice to get cops off our streets, so they stop killing our neighbors, people like George Floyd, and finally recognize our neighborhoods as vibrant communities full of rich humanity — not “problems” that have to be policed.
Today, and in the future, we will fight to honor George Floyd’s legacy. Fighting for a tomorrow where Black life is sacred; where white supremacy is removed from our society, and our communities thrive. While the movements to end gun violence have come a long way, this movement’s work is far from over. The time to end all forms of gun violence is now, and we won’t rest until we see true action to honor the lives of those lost.
Daud Mumin is a member of the Board of Directors at March For Our Lives.
Greg Jackson is the National Advocacy Director for the Community Justice Action Fund.