Wilmington City Council President Congo and Council Members Condemn Gun Violence and Announce Support to Grassroots Organizations

Wilmington – Today, May 13 at 11:30am, City Council President Ernest “Trippi” Congo, II was joined by Council Member Zanthia Oliver (3rd District), Council Member Michelle Harlee (4th District), Council Member Bregetta Fields (5th District), Council Member Nathan Field (8th District), Council Member Rysheema Dixon (At-Large), Pastor Sandra Ben of Safe United Neighborhoods and Rev. H. Ward Greer of Churches Take A Corner to condemn gun violence and announce new micro grants for anti-violence efforts.

City Council Members are increasingly frustrated and disheartened by the gun violence in Wilmington. There have been 40 shootings thus far in Wilmington in 2021. Last year with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, there were 135 shootings. In 2019 there were 90. In 2018, 71. City Council has been focused on the budget process and found one way to help support efforts to address gun violence with more to come. City Council President Congo announced new micro grants to be awarded to several grassroots agencies working hard to quell the violence and impacts from it.

Credit: Saquan Stimpson-Cunningham, WITN
City Council President Congo said, “I am hurting for the young people who are dying in our city at the hands of guns. I am hurting for our family and friends whose lives have been forever changed by gun violence just this year. I know Wilmington is better than this.”

“Today, I stand here with fellow Council Members, faith and community leaders to call for us all to work together to bring an end to this destruction. There are reasons for this violence. And the violence disproportionately impacts some neighborhoods. We need to make specific targeted investments where the pain hurts now. I am happy to announce an investment of funding to address gun-violence and related issues. This funding will be directed toward grassroots organizations serving in disproportionately impacted neighborhoods,” said City Council President Congo.

The funding comes from the discretionary account of the President of City Council and is supported by Council. In total, this $45,000 investment will be spread across ten organizations. The recipients of the micro grants are:

1.           Stop the Violence Coalition
2.           Safe United Neighborhoods
3.           Network Connect
4.           302 Guns Down
5.           Cultural Restoration Program
6.           Christina Cultural Arts Center – Heart Under the Hoodie
7.           Youth Empowerment Program
8.           Community Intervention Team
9.           Together Everybody Achieves More
10.         Churches Take A Corner

Council Member James Spadola (At Large) said, “These grants are a good first step, but we still need more help from the criminal justice system to keep those who commit crimes with guns behind bars. As the Mayor outlined last week, 120 individuals arrested have been arrested for gun offenses so far in 2021, and 69 of them are out on bail despite 45 having prior gun arrests. We need higher cash-bail, or a denial of any bail at all, to help keep gun offenders off the streets. No one should be able to commit a crime with a gun and go home the same night.”

Council Member Linda Gray (1st District) stated, “”I stand in solidarity with President Congo.  Curbing violence in Wilmington needs to be a multi-faceted approach, there’s no one way.  We need to educate and engage our youth, find jobs for the venerable population and promote home ownership. There is room for everyone to be heard on ideas for meaningful and sustainable change.”

Credit: Saquan Stimpson-Cunningham, WITN
City Council Members believe that supporting these agencies will help address gun-violence and also build social capital and trust relationships at the grassroots level. This funding announcement will be coupled with a larger one in the near future.

“City Council requested and the Mayor graciously agreed to commit six figures in the operating budget towards anti-gun violence initiatives,” said City Council President Congo. “Our calls to the Administration for dedicated funding to address this problem were answered with resounding support. Thank you to Mayor Purzycki for your support in addressing gun violence. However, I am also calling on the Mayor to make serious use of the American Rescue Plan Act funds for violence prevention and intervention.”

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