What To Know Today

Community-focused solutions for gun violence. A number of recent stories point to potential bright spots or definitive good news in alleviating the country’s crisis. They include:

  • Graduation day for the latest cohort of Chicago CRED participants. Forty-six people obtained their GED yesterday through the nonprofit program that provides coaching, job training, financial support, and classes for people at risk of either shooting someone or being shot, interrupting the cycle of violence by offering a way out. “Every time one of my guys gets a high school diploma, I shout for joy,” a coach for the CRED program tells WBEZ. “Because now they can check that box on job applications, they can apply for financial aid, they can go to college.”
  • Eyeing public safety, Portland , Oregon, combines statistics and stimulus to target environmental upgrades. Amid a historic shooting spike, the city tapped Dr. Jonathan Jay of the Boston University School of Public Health to help identify where crime is most likely to occur and advise the city on how to use federal stimulus money to make those areas safer. In an interview with Willamette Week, Jay discusses the algorithm he developed, and how he hopes Portland will invest in the areas it targets: “We have good evidence from multiple cities that improving the physical environment in urban settings can reduce gun violence.”
  • A program to foster communication between residents and investigators helped a Pennsylvania city bring down high rates of violence. The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at Chester, which unlike nearby Philadelphia has seen gun violence fall this year. While there is no one reason for the drop, prosecutors, activists, and community leaders have praised the Chester Partnerships for Safe Neighborhoods, which ensures dialogue between residents and investigators working with the local DA. So far in 2021, investigators have made arrests in 50 percent of homicide cases, the highest clearance rate since 2004. 

41 fatal shootings since 2015, 0 prosecutions: Kentucky State Police receive little scrutiny. In this second part of their series, the Marshall Project, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, and The Lexington Herald-Leader took a look at the agency responsible for more fatal shootings in rural areas than any other nationwide since 2015. They found that a majority of those killed by officers had experienced mental health issues or addiction, and a quarter were carrying no firearms when they were shot. Some advocates pointed to a lack of accountability mechanisms like body-worn cameras or outside oversight for internal shooting reviews and investigations. “I don’t think it should be done,” said a former state’s attorney of the practice of state police investigating themselves. “Everybody knows everybody else.” 

Feds recommend leniency for man who pleaded guilty in alleged plot against Michigan’s governor. Tyler Garbin, 25, is the only one of 14 people charged to have registered a guilty plea in the alleged conspiracy to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Prosecutors say his testimony and cooperation should earn him a reduced sentence of nine years — down from a recommended 17.5. In October, the trial begins for another five men whose lawyers say they were entrapped by government informants and there never was an active plot. 

Michigan man says he shot at a Black family’s home over Black Lives Matter sign — but it wasn’t personal. Michael Frederick Jr., 25, told a judge during sentencing that his actions last September — which included defacing the truck of Eddie and Candace Hall with a swastika, slashing their tires, and throwing a stone through their front window, was motivated by politics. “I targeted these people because I didn’t like their political sign that they had in the window,” he said, adding, “I think you guys are some great people and didn’t deserve this at all.” He was sentenced to at least four years. “I’m forgiving,” Candace Hall, 55, said at the sentencing. “You’re a good kid and have a chance. You made a bad choice.”

Data Point

$11.5 million — the portion of its American Rescue Plan funds that St. Louis is pledging to address the root causes of violence through youth initiatives and community-focused intervention. The spending is part of a $135 million package of the federal stimulus the mayor signed off on this week, which also includes direct cash assistance payments to struggling families ($5 million), and job growth and employment programs ($30 million). [Mayor Tishaura O. Jones]