CITY COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION URGING MAYOR KENNEY TO DECLARE GUN VIOLENCE A CITYWIDE EMERGENCY IN PHILADELPHIA

In Allan Domb, Bobby Henon, Brian O'Neill, Cherelle Parker, Cindy Bass, Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Derek Green, Isaiah Thomas, Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kendra Brooks, Kenyatta Johnson, Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, Mark Squilla, News by PHL Council

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In the wake of a mass shooting on a Philadelphia basketball court, 14 Councilmembers co-sponsor resolution requesting action from the Mayor

PHILADELPHIA – The City Council today approved a resolution introduced by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) urging Mayor Jim Kenney to declare Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis a citywide emergency. The resolution offers specific guidance on the City’s response to this emergency, including greater transparency on the implementation of gun violence initiatives; enhanced coordination and planning among relevant City agencies; and leveraging the resources of Philadelphia’s dynamic private sector, nonprofit community, academic institutions, and healthcare organizations. The resolution was co-sponsored by 14 fellow Councilmembers.

“Just last night, there was a mass shooting on a basketball court in our city, where over 55 shots were fired and two young men lost their lives,” said Councilmember Gauthier. “This is just the latest indicator of what we already know: we need to do much more than we’re currently doing to address this crisis. That is why we are calling on Mayor Kenney to lead a coordinated effort that treats this deadly epidemic – which is traumatizing Black and Brown communities across Philadelphia – with the urgency it deserves.”

This year, gun violence has reached levels not seen in Philadelphia for over a decade. So far in 2020, 323 people have been murdered in the city and over 1,400 people have been shot, marking increases of 32 percent and 44 percent respectively. As of today, there have been more shooting victims in 2020 than in the entire year of 2019. An alarming number of shooting victims have been women and children, caught in the crossfire of a spate of violence that is terrorizing neighborhoods – communities of color in particular – throughout the city. Philadelphia now has the second-highest murder count of any city in the country, following only Chicago.

The resolution acknowledges that the City already has a variety of anti-violence initiatives underway, but expresses concern regarding transparency on their effectiveness and scarcity of relevant data that has been made available to Councilmembers and the public. Additionally, the resolution notes that the dramatic increase in gun violence calls for an urgent and wide-ranging response from the City.

“Gun violence is a crisis that is moving Philadelphia in the wrong direction,” said Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Chairman of the Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention and one of the co-sponsors of the resolution. “The Gun Violence Prevention hearings my committee has held this summer has made it crystal clear to everyone that elected officials and citizens must act with the fierce urgency of now. Our children, women and young African American men are dying from the senseless gun violence plaguing our city every day. I feel we are at an emergency level with gun violence in Philadelphia and we must devote additional resources right now to solve the problem.”

“The urgency of now has been superseded by the urgency of right now!” said Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), Majority Whip and Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety. “Deaths due to gun violence are second only to deaths caused by COVID-19.”

As part of this resolution, the City Council is calling on the Mayor to take the following steps:

  • Issue an executive order declaring a citywide gun violence emergency, which would include directing the Office of Violence Reduction, the Police Department and other applicable City agencies to implement the Roadmap to Safer Communities with fidelity; elevate their response to this crisis to the level of the City’s response to COVID-19; and provide weekly public briefings on the City’s efforts to combat the gun violence epidemic, performance goals, inputs and outputs.
  • Partner with the Council of the City of Philadelphia to sustainably invest in gun violence reduction efforts over the long-term.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to engage with residents around the creation of safe and healthy communities, and expand funding for these efforts.
  • Consistently stand with and support community members in public as they confront the gun violence crisis in their neighborhoods.
  • Rally corporations, healthcare and educational institutions to raise funds, increase research and innovation, and supply meaningful jobs to combat the gun violence epidemic.
  • More quickly and frequently evaluate the efficacy of the strategies being carried out as part of the Roadmap.
  • Improve coordination among City departments towards the goal of reducing gun violence and provide enhanced resources to neighborhoods impacted by gun violence.
  • Continue to invest in and implement evidence-based violence reduction efforts, including independent proven violence reduction efforts.
  • Work with juvenile probation and parole, the Courts, DHS, and the School District to create a comprehensive intervention program with juveniles involved in, or adjacent to, gun violence.

The resolution follows a letter that Councilmember Gauthier sent to the Mayor last month requesting this executive order, which received no formal response.

Co-sponsors of this resolution include Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large), Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Councilmember Bobby Henon (6th District), Councilmember Allan Domb (At-Large), Councilmember Mark Squilla (1st District), Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District), Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), Councilmember Cherelle Parker (9th District), Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large), Councilmember Brian O’Neill (10th District), and Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (At-Large). 

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