After the two deadly shootings over this Memorial Day weekend, the spotlight will go to the Miami-Dade County Commission, which could vote on a gun violence prevention plan next month. The vote will carry much more significance.
County Mayor Danielle Levine Cava’s office told NBC 6 they hope the commission votes on the “Peace and Prosperity” plan next month.
“We have to be clear about what’s happening in Miami-Dade County. These are acts of domestic terrorism,” said Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who is spearheading the plan with Levine Cava at county hall.
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The plan will use $90 million over the next 19 years after the cryptocurrency stock exchange company FTX purchased the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena. The plan aims to pump money into an existing county park program called Fit2Lead, a mentoring, paid internship and job program.
“After the fact is not good enough. So we want to prevent these things before they even get to this point. We’re investing in our young people. Particularly those who have been disinvested in and disenfranchised from the process,” said Morris Copeland, Miami-Dade’s Chief Community Services Officer.
If passed, the county will use nearly $2 million to expand Fit2Lead to another 1,100 teenagers. Researchers and law enforcement leaders agree getting kids more opportunities to make money legally and to build positive relationships keeps them from turning to crime and violence.
“We want to make sure they have a stake. We want to make sure they belong to something before they pick up a gun because none of them are born with AK-47s in their hands,” Copeland said.
The “Peace and Prosperity” plan also has money dedicated to law enforcement.
The stakes are high. County leaders do expect to see an increase in violence this summer, which could be worse than last summer. The county documents attached to the plan detail that in 2020, there were nearly 1,200 shootings in Miami-Dade County. 111 of those were homicides.
County records show there has been a staggering 45% increase in gun violence since 2016. Nearly one out of four victims last year were under the age of 21.
“I am fully committed to make sure Director Ramirez and the Miami-Dade police department have all of the resources they need,” Levine Cava said at a news conference Monday.
$300,000 will also go to Project Green Light, which would install real-time video cameras in high crime areas connecting to police headquarters. County documents detail how a similar program decreased crime in some Detroit neighborhoods by around 40%.
Violent crime often has unintended consequences like this latest targeted shooting at an album release concert at El Mula in northwest Miami-Dade. Police have not said whether the person targeted is among the two dead and around 20 wounded.
“Hitting innocent people who at the same time have nothing to do with their beef, ruining families,” said Freddy Ramirez, director of Miami-Dade Police.
Most politicos watching county hall do expect the plan to pass once it is called for a vote. Renaming the arena with gun violence prevention in mind was not close: 10 to 1. The debate over the original vote in April brought out emotional pleas from commissioners whose districts have been the center of gun violence.
"It doesn’t mean it’s going to rid our community of criminals or elements that have been impacting and affecting us for the longest… but it is telling us at least we’ve done our jobs,” said Commissioner Jean Monestime in April.