PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of people marched in the streets Friday to demand resources be reinvested in local youth.
The Direction Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) in downtown Providence organized the mother’s march that started on Lockwood Avenue.
The organization fights for social, political and economic justice here in Rhode Island, according to co-organizer of the event Cedric Russell.
“We are dealing with a lot of the mothers that have lost their communities due to gun violence, police brutality… lost their children to gun violence,” Russell said.
Police escorted the group on their route, which ended at the Nonviolence Institute in Providence. Once there, a variety of speakers shared their stories of being impacted by gun violence and incarceration.
Russell said it should be clear how gun violence and systemic problems are related.
“Gun violence is not caused by kids having guns, these can be prevented,” he said.
This week, Russell co-released a public letter addressed to the institute, calling for the redistribution of the $500,000 in funding to the community that the institute was awarded by Brown University and the R.I. Foundation, as well as an end to their collaboration with police.
That letter was signed by 17 different groups and more than 80 community leaders.
“They’re just taking it and they are going to reallocate the funds back into them,” Russell said. “This community is tore up, we need so much, more Boys and Girls Club, more outreach, more food, just love and reallocating those funds into a system that doesn’t care about us, that does nothing for us.”
He suggested the funding be used to invest in resources like housing, public schooling, mental health and support for families rather than policing an incarceration.
“What links systematic racism to violence is that there is no opportunity for people like us, there are no jobs,” Russell said. “They’re just trapped in a system.”
Harrison Tuttle from the Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee said investing in the youth may help prevent the violence in the first place.
“If poverty is solved and the resources in our community are addressed, there will be a significant drop in crime,” Tuttle said.
Members of the Nonviolence Institute did come out to the march. 12 News tried to speak with Cedric Huntley, the executive director of the institute, as well as the founder, but they say for the moment they are not commenting, just listening.