What To Know Today

The latest plans for spending stimulus money on violence prevention. A number of cities and states this week announced how they intend to use relief funds in the American Rescue Plan for community-focused safety efforts. Among them:

  • Indianapolis will use approximately $150 million — more than a third of its funds — to support a three-year anti-violence plan that includes a boost to community violence intervention programs through grants and hiring more “peacemakers.” (About $33 million of the money would go to the police.) 
  • Louisville, Kentucky, hasn’t released specific totals, but Mayor Greg Fischer outlined priorities for its $340 million, including a big emphasis on “violence prevention and intervention.” The plan includes new policing technology alongside deflection and diversion programs, Fischer said, because “some situations should involve a social service response, rather than solely law enforcement.”
  • Akron, Ohio, plans to put $24 million toward youth violence prevention programs including intervention services, youth employment and job training, and improved recreation assets.
  • Virginia’s state legislators earmarked $2.5 million for a violence reduction program run by the Attorney General’s Office in partnership with community groups and law enforcement. An additional $2.5 million will go to the Department of Criminal Justice Services to distribute for community violence interruption programs. 

In Virginia, advocates say the plan fell short of the $37 million a coalition of anti-violence groups requested from the state for community-based violence prevention. “It’s not enough. I recognize that,” said Lori Haas, director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. In response, the Governor’s Office said a total of $71 million of the $4.3 billion the state received would go to an array of social services intended to help improve community safety, including additional support for crime victims and mental health services. 

Kathy Hochul shows how quickly the politics of guns have changed. The Democratic lieutenant governor of New York, who will succeed Governor Andrew Cuomo in two weeks after his resignation yesterday, received an “A” rating from the NRA as recently as 2012. “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, an organization that represents thousands of Western New York sportsmen,” she said at the time. But as lieutenant governor, her positions have shifted along with the rest of her party. In 2018, she urged state legislators to pass a red flag bill and said lawmakers who hadn’t taken up the bill opposed by the gun group were “afraid that the NRA will go after them.” (The state later enacted the law.) Appearing in June at a gun violence prevention forum alongside New York Attorney General Letitia James, Hochul said: “We have had background checks, we have had a ban on assault weapons. We have protections for young people in schools and domestic abusers and out of state gun laws. We have what you need, but the guns are still finding the ways to our streets.” An extinct breed: Collin Peterson, the last NRA “A”-rated Democrat in Congress, was unseated in the 2020 election. By comparison, we reported that more than a quarter of congressional Democrats received A’s in 2010, a sign of the nearly complete transformation of the parties’ polarization on guns. — Tom Kutsch, newsletter editor

Two sons of an Atlanta spa shooting victim are uniting Black and Asian communities. The Peterson brothers, Elliot and Robert, lost their mother, Yong Ae Yue, when a gunman killed her and seven others at spas in the Atlanta area this March. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. Yue’s sons, who are Korean and Black, are grieving while also seeking to dismantle the rift that has existed between Black and Asian-American communities. Robert has been focused on shared plights, and not the wedges between the groups. “That’s how me and my brother are trying to make the best out of this,” Robert told The Washington Post. “It’s bigger than my mother.” 

Trump supporter sentenced for shooting of Black teen at a rally. The shooting happened outside of a December rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Michael McKinney, a 26-year-old white man, got into an argument with a carload of Black teenagers who reversed and hit a pickup truck when a crowd of Trump supporters surrounded their vehicle. McKinney fired into the vehicle, striking a 15-year-old girl. “I believed I was going to die the day I was shot. I didn’t know if I would be able to walk again,” she wrote in a statement to the court. McKinney will serve two concurrent 10-year sentences for charges he pleaded guilty to in June: intimidation with a dangerous weapon and willful injury.

Data Point

Three — the number of rulings U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez made in three consecutive years that have upended California’s strict gun laws: In 2019, he stopped a ban on magazines holding more than 10 bullets; in 2020, he struck a law that voters passed to implement background checks for purchasing ammunition; and this summer, he overturned the state’s assault weapons ban. [Los Angeles Times]