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Austin, Texas, to reallocate millions from the police to social services. In a unanimous vote, the City Council approved about $20 million in immediate cuts from the $434 million police budget. It pledged to cut $150 million overall in the coming year. Among other investments, the money will fund first responders, shelters for victims of domestic violence, and violence prevention services. This investment in “community-led, survivor-informed prevention and intervention strategies is a long overdue shift in the right direction,” said Shelli Egger, a member of the Austin Task Force on Gun Violence that supported the defund effort.
The leader of a Black militia says his group won’t show up to a planned white supremacist rally in Georgia. On July 4, the armed NFAC militia held a march at Stone Mountain Park, where there is a massive monument to Confederate leaders. That event prompted far-right and white nationalist groups to plan their own rally there on August 15. Grand Master Jay, who leads the NFAC coalition, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We are not — and have no intentions of — interfering with these folks’ right to protest.” NFAC recently led an armed march against police violence in Louisville, Kentucky, that drew a smattering of far-right groups, and experts feared NFAC’s inclusion at the rally this weekend might exacerbate the odds of violence. The park denied far-right organizers a permit for the rally, citing security concerns. But organizers are looking to march anyway — as are local anti-racist counter-protesters.
Trading guns for money in Queens. District Attorney Melinda Katz announced two upcoming August dates for gun drop-offs in the New York City borough. Anyone turning in a gun will receive $200, no questions asked. The joint NYPD initiative comes amid an uptick in gun violence in New York City. In Queens, shootings have risen by 85 percent compared to last year, Katz said. “Every single gun that we get off the street is better than having it in someone’s house,” she added. From the archives: Past research indicates such buyback programs may not be effective, partially because the guns sold back are minuscule compared to the millions in circulation across the country.
Why is violent crime on the rise this year? One expert says the answer might be obvious. Criminologists have offered up a number of rationales for why homicides and other violent crimes have risen across the country since the pandemic began. Some blame massive protests for diverting police resources, while others say community distrust of policing makes it harder for law enforcement to solve cases. Economist John Roman offers a more straightforward argument: “Young men are stuck at home instead of working or going to school. They are experiencing the same anxiety the rest of us are experiencing, but in neighborhoods with a long history of violence they have the added burden of accumulated traumas, including unresolved disputes… Now add to the mix easy access to guns. The number of guns purchased since the beginning of the pandemic is astronomical.”
A 10-year-old girl saw her mother’s fatal shooting during online learning. The girl had just logged on to virtual school in Indiantown, Florida, when her mother got into an argument with her ex-boyfriend. The man, who police say had several domestic violence complaints against him, shot and killed her and was charged with the murder. As we’ve reported, more than half of intimate partner homicides in the U.S. are committed with a gun.
The State Department “did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties” when it sold $8 billion in weapons to Middle Eastern countries last year, the inspector general said in a newly unredacted report. The sales included $1 million worth of .50 caliber semiautomatic rifles and silencers to the United Arab Emirates. [Politico]