new haven

President's Build Back Better Act Finds Support In New Haven

Community outreach leaders join Connecticut's senators in a discussion about legislation that could bring significant funding to fight gun violence.

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In Washington, a U.S. House vote is expected on President Biden’s proposed Build Back Better Act. Included in the legislature is $5 billion to help fight gun violence.

Before the weekend started, both of Connecticut’s senators sat down for a community round table in New Haven to discuss community outreach and how additional financial resources might help make an impact on a city that has seen significant gun violence this year.

“It’s just not acceptable that gun homicide is the number one cause of death for Black children and youth in this country,” said Sen. Chris Murphy.

Addressing a problem that faces many Connecticut cities and towns, Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal listened to many who are fighting to curb violence.

The event, which happened Friday, was powerful and informative. People who have been directly affected by gun violence, and are now aiming to stop it, wanted their voices heard.

“It’s 2021 and I’m still on this battlefield fighting against gun violence,” said Marlene Miller Pratt who lost her son to gun violence in 1998.

Miller Pratt was among those who supported the recent creation of New Haven’s Botanical Garden of Healing. A memorial, that includes hundreds of bricks, each carrying the name of a gun violence victim in the city.

“When people walk through that garden, they see that trauma. They see that trauma that’s on the city,” said Miller Pratt.

Miller Pratt isn’t alone in that fight: joining the discussion was Manny Camacho. Although just 16, he says he was surrounded by violence as a small child, growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, before moving to New Haven.

“I grew up being around gangs, being taught the colors and how to identify rival gangs,” said Camacho. “Being taught basically how to commit crimes.”

Camacho is member of an outreach program known as “Ice The Beef.” Organization President Chaz Carmon says the program would be one that could use an infusion from the Build Back Better Act.

“We have no funding, I’ve never been paid on this job and we’ve been open 10 years,” he said.

Mediation, education and advocacy are among the things these community leaders are asking to increase if additional funding becomes available.

This is especially true for those whose loved ones’ names are etched on the Botanical Garden Bricks.

“We’re here in 2021 and we’re still burying our youth,” added Pamela Jaynez, whose son was killed in 1997.

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