Leading CJ Reform Organizations Sponsor Billboards Backing Helen Gym
This week, Amistad Movement Power, Free The Ballot, and Straight Ahead sponsored billboards in support of Helen Gym for Mayor. The billboards, commissioned and paid for by Straight Ahead, lift up her public safety plan, which aims to make Philadelphia safer by investing in communities that have suffered from decades of disinvestment. It highlights the city’s inordinate spending on jails––almost $300 Million annually––over and against parks, rec centers, and libraries, which total less than half that budget, combined. “Underfunded communities make us less safe,” the billboard reads. “On May 16 vote Helen Gym to turn things around.”
The three organizations consist of people from the communities most harmed by violence in Philadelphia. They know firsthand that decades of disinvestment have led to instability and despair. Helen Gym’s public safety platform is based on the premise that wealth inequality drives gun violence. She understands the only way to address our city’s crisis is to create tangible opportunities for social mobility: affordable housing, fully funded public schools, and guaranteed employment for young people.
Amistad Movement Power, Free The Ballot, and Straight Ahead have played key roles in launching Philadelphia’s first mobile crisis units, a vital intervention to get police out of mental health crisis response in the city. Instead of armed personnel, community members suffering from mental health crises receive visits from teams consisting of a licensed mental health professional, a medical professional, and a certified peer specialist––someone with lived experience who can relate to families in crisis. Helen Gym championed mobile crisis teams while on City Council, and she is committed to community-driven interventions to resolve conflicts before they turn violent.
“The violence epidemic we are facing in Philadelphia is a direct result of chronic underinvestment from city officials. Helen Gym has been a long-time champion for our communities, both on City Council and in the streets. She has a proven track record of promoting public safety through community-driven interventions. When we mobilized to create non-police mobile crisis teams in the wake of Walter Wallace Jr’s death, it was Helen Gym who fought to help us get it off the ground. She will work alongside us to build a safe Philadelphia where all our community members can thrive.” said Kris Henderson of Amistad Movement Power
In a heated race where mayoral candidates are employing “tough on crime” rhetoric and calling for the return of stop and frisk, Helen Gym is the only candidate with a vision for public safety that also honors human dignity.