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RI elected officials pledge action on gun violence

“Congress needs to play a constructive role and better address some of the underlying economic and social ills that contribute to the epidemic of gun violence,” said Senator Reed. “We need to tackle poverty. We need to get at the root of the problem and invest in education and mentorship. We need to support programs like the ones right here that allow nonviolence outreach specialists to go out into the communities and engage these communities…”
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Published on May 17, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

At the Nonviolence Institute in Providence the Rhode Island congressional delegation announced renewed efforts to deliver federal resources and take legislative action to help prevent gun violence; expand access to effective mentoring programs to keep young people out of criminal involvement; and bring community leaders together to develop effective strategies to make our communities safer.

This all comes as Providence reels from a series of shootings over the last four days, beginning with an incident on Carolina Avenue that injured nine people.

United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives James Langevin and David Cicilline joined with Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, Attorney General Peter Neronha, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and community gun violence prevention advocate Diana Garlington to take aim at preventing gun violence and criminal activity, including through targeted investments in social and economic programs for disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“Congress needs to play a constructive role and better address some of the underlying economic and social ills that contribute to the epidemic of gun violence,” said Senator Reed. “We need to tackle poverty. We need to get at the root of the problem and invest in education and mentorship. We need to support programs like the ones right here that allow nonviolence outreach specialists to go out into the communities and engage these communities…”

See also: RICAGV: In wake of violence, advocates call on lawmakers to move gun bills out of committee

Aside from a commitment to mentorship programs and a summer jobs program, no one who spoke at the press conference offered any legislation, programs or ideas on how to combat poverty, how to address the ongoing wealth gap, how to get people paid living wages or find decent, affordable housing. Mentorship and summer jobs programs are nor economic solutions but bandaids. These programs may be needed but they do nothing to “better address some of the underlying economic and social ills that contribute to the epidemic of gun violence.”

Senator Reed had to catch a plane to Washington before UpriseRI had a chance to ask him about this.

The lawmakers say there are commonsense, evidence-based interventions that can help reduce violence and improve public safety. These include gun violence prevention measures and providing help and mentorship to men and women of all ages who are at risk of falling into the criminal justice system, and those who are working to get out and turn their lives around.

The Congressional delegation announced that they are working with the Biden Administration to provide federal resources and strengthen partnerships between local authorities and the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to effectively target gun and drug trafficking.

To date, Providence has had eight shooting deaths since January and the Providence Police have seized twice as many illegal firearms so far this year over past years.

“I have fought for the past decade, pleading for justice for my daughter,” said Diana Garlington, and organizer with Moms Demand Action who lost her daughter to gun violence a year ago in a case that remains unsolved. “I have fought for the last decade, pleading for justice for justice for other families…”

Cedric Huntley, Executive Director of the Nonviolence Institute, emceed the press event:

Senator Jack Reed:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:

Representative James Langevin:

Representative David Cicilline:

Governor Daniel McKee:

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha:

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza:

Diana Garlington, an organizer with Moms Demand Action.

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