(TNS) — It was her daughter’s prom weekend, and Kendra Brooks had finally sat down to relax on Saturday night. Then her phone started dinging. Shots fired. South Street. A crowd of hundreds. A dozen people hit. Maybe more.
Panic set in. Are the kids safe?
Brooks, an at-large City Council member, learned quickly that her two teenagers were fine — in other parts of the city. But that pang of terror she felt when a mass shooting happened over the June 4 weekend was so familiar. It brings Brooks to tears when she realizes how many thousands of Philadelphia parents feel it often, too.
“It’s like this constant cycle of fear,” she said. “And my responsibility is heightened, because my responsibility is not just to my children. It’s to the city, and it’s to everyone’s children.”
That is the grim context under which Philadelphia City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration are undertaking budget negotiations, their annual chance to shape how the city spends money to tackle even seemingly intractable problems like gun violence.
In addition to an increase to the police budget, Kenney’s $5.6 billion spending plan includes what his administration says is a $184 million investment in antiviolence strategies outside law enforcement. That nine-figure number includes grants to grassroots organizations and funding to expand social programs that engage potential shooters.
The administration’s broad definition of antiviolence also includes initiatives that were launched amid pushes for police and prison reform, as well as the restoration of funding to city agencies that saw cuts during the pandemic. The true amount of new spending on antiviolence programs isn’t clear-cut and is subject to change.
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