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Milton Street's campaign built on black lives won't matter until the violence ends

Perennial candidate running for Congress outlines his platform.

Milton Street has not held an elected position since 1984.

Metro file

It seems Milton Street is here to stay.

Earlier this week, Street announced an Independent campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat now held by the departing 11-term U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who is on trial for fraud and racketeering.

On Thursday, the serial candidate released a campaign video outlining his platform and taking a few jabs at his opponents.

Street, who will take on Democratic nominee Dwight Evans and Republican James Jones in November, will run as an independent. But he opens his video with the admission that he would've preferred to run as a Republican, but the party had already picked Jones.

Yet it seems Street, 78, bears no loyalty to any political party.

He ran for mayor twice, 2011 and 2015, as a Democrat. Just a day before announcing his candidacy in 2015, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Street was a registered independent, and had been for several years.

In 2012, he claimed to be the sole member of a political party known as "Milton Street."

Street's political career began in 1978, when he was elected to the state House, and the state Senate in 1980 – both times as a Democrat. Shortly after, though, he switched parties to give Republicans control of the chamber. When he ran for re-election (as a Democrat), he lost. He ran, again as a Democrat, in '86 and '88 for state representative. He lost.

Street said when he announced his campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat Tuesday that he sought to "challenge" Evans, a Democrat with more than 35 years' experience in elected office.

"I don't have anything against Dwight Evans," Street, 77, told the Inky. "My issue is, he should have to work for the seat between now and November. I’m going to make him work."

He didn't call out Evans in his campaign video, but did emphasize that the city is run on a "one-party system."

"We elect people, we elect representatives, but for the most part, we're not represented. If we were, we'd experience some semblance of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Instead, Street says there's no order in the political system.

"When there's no order, there's no discipline. Where there's no discipline, there's chaos. Where there's chaos, there's violence. And that's one of the reasons why we have violence in our community."

As a solution, Street offers his 414 Community Movement to combat crime in Philly neighborhoods, a plan that emerged in 2014 ahead of his mayoral campaign.

The Movement calls for 5,000 employees to be hired from the community, to be paid $15,000 and act as mentors to those who would otherwise commit crimes.

The pilot program, which would cost taxpayers $75 million, would actually save taxpayers $175 million each year, Street says.

Here's his math:

The 5,000 people who are hired are 5,000 who would otherwise be incarcerated. It costs $40,000 to put one person in prison for one year. Multiply by 5,000 people, and you have $200 million.

"The only people who can stop the violence are the people who live there," he says.

Street's math isn't far off. The Inky reported in December that it costs the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) or Pennsylvania Department of Corrections about $42,000 per year to house an inmate.

As of June 7, there were 7,106 inmates in PPS facilities.

Street goes on to say that candidates and businesses looking to invest in Philadelphia aren't going to do so as long as there is an undereducated workforce and high crime rates.

In order to cycle money through the city, an educated, employed workforce is necessary. To achieve that, he calls on the black community:

"Black lives will never, ever matter until black people stop killing black people, black people stop destroying property, black people stop allowing their children to disrupt schools," Street continues.

"You can run around demonstrating, yelling 'Black Lives Matter' until the cows come home. Nobody is going to believe you. A people that does not respect itself should not anticipate that other people are going to respect them."

 

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