KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive Tuesday that allocates federal resources to local crime prevention efforts.
Funding from the federal bipartisan Safer Communities Act will go to local law enforcement agencies and state government departments to curb rising gun violence.
Ten months ago, the city of Kalamazoo declared gun violence a public health crisis. To date, there have been three deadly shootings in Kalamazoo this year and 45 other incidents where the victims survived.
“When the biggest killer of children in this country is guns but elsewhere it’s cancer, that tells you that this is a unique problem for our nation to solve,” said Whitmer. “Here in Michigan, we can take some steps to make it safer.”
The directive immediately followed a roundtable where more than a dozen community members shared their stories of gun violence. Ey’Nijah Roberson, 12, was the youngest in attendance. She shared her story of when she lost her father. She said he was shot 11 times more than two years ago after a fight broke out over a kids pickup football game.
“There was no reason (for that). It was over a football game,” Ey’Nijah tearfully said.
She said her father’s alleged killer will go to trial next month, but the impact of that gun violence will stay with her forever.
In Grand Rapids, 300 illegal guns have been seized in 2022. Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Winstrom released numbers on Tuesday that show 13 people have died as a result of gun violence.
“This is a diverse table. This is not a group of people who are all likeminded. We don’t all have the same experience. We don’t all have the same politics for that matter. But every one of us recognizes that we’ve got to do something,” Whitmer said.