MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County’s Peace & Prosperity plan will devote nearly $8 million over the next two years to tackle the underlying issues of the gun violence epidemic.
But while county commissioners unanimously approved the plan Tuesday, not everyone in the community is embracing the idea.
“The things that are most needed right now on the ground in our community are completely excluded from it,” said Lyle Muhammad of the Circle of Brotherhood. “The one good thing that it will do is it will get youth involved in some productive activity. But in terms of stemming gun violence, there’s some serious gaps and holes.”
The Circle of Brotherhood is a grassroots organization made up of men from all walks of life who serve as youth mentors, peacemakers and more, changing the mindsets of young people headed in the wrong direction.
The group has been publicly praised by Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava for its work. But it won’t receive a single dime under the plan.
To strengthen its efforts, the Dream Defenders’ Healing & Justice Center is another entity that says it could have used some of the funds.
“We know that we can provide youth programming to not only teach them the things that they’re learning in school but also become entrepreneurs, how to grow. So there’s a lot of different components,” said that group’s Vivian Azalia.
Added Muhammad: “We’ve got a community-based issue and we have a cultural issue and there’s no way that stepped-up police enforcement is gonna do anything but heighten tensions between community and police.”
In the approved plan, money will be dispersed to previously selected youth programs in districts with the most shootings. Summer jobs and afterschool activities will be offered, even for youngsters with a blemish on their juvenile record.
“We need to redouble our efforts and have our kids engaged — not just during the summer, after school, during the regular school year,” said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “For if we do not captivate their attention, someone else with more nefarious intention no doubt will.”
Funding for the Peace & Prosperity plan comes from the county’s new naming rights deal for the Miami Heat’s downtown arena.
Its approval came amid a spike of gun violence in the county since Memorial Day weekend.
“These tragic events over the last several days especially and just this past weekend are reinforcing that we must take immediate action to help make our neighborhoods safer,” Levine Cava said.
In December 2022, officials plan to evaluate the Peace & Prosperity Plan’s effectiveness to determine where future investments should go.