“The community has the solution to gun violence” was the main message discussed as a panel of experts discussed strategies to prevent violence in Erie.

According to CeaseFirePA, homicides jumped 43% in 2020 statewide, the highest number of deaths in recorded history.

“It does not have to be that way. We know that we can prevent gun violence, we can reduce the shootings by investing in community-based programs,” said Josh Fleitman, CeaseFirePA.

Fleitman said lives can be saved by investing and educating our community.

“We’re educating the public. We’re bringing this information to the elected officials and we are asking that they increase funding in the state budget. We want $80 million in the budget to support community-based programs, school-based programs, programs run by local governments through grants to support community-based violence prevention,” Fleitman said.

One speaker on the panel is from Buffalo, New York.

“We were watching the events unfolding as we were preparing to come here really, I think, solidified why this is so important, why we need to talk about it and why we need to provide resources that can create and foster a healthy narrative in our community,” said Dr. Adrienne Dixon, Sarah A. Reed Children’s Center.

One community member that showed up to the forum said prevention in youth violence can deter future violence.

“I’m glad that they brought up discussions and great topics and they gave great explanations about if we did have more teen funding from ages 11 to 17, we could impact the community in a better way,” said Duryea Paige, Erie County resident.

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Fleitman added that gun violence costs Pennsylvania $12 billion every year in economic impact