WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCILMEMBERS SEEK MORE STRATEGIES TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE AMONG YOUTH

In Anthony Phillips, Brian O'Neill, Council News, Isaiah Thomas, Jamie Gauthier, Kenyatta Johnson, News by PHL Council

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COUNCIL PLANS HEARINGS TO DEVELOP COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO SUPPORT AT-RISK YOUTHS

City Council has continually taken legislative action and appropriated millions of dollars in an attempt to reduce and prevent gun violence over the past few years. This week in Council, two Members promised to hold new hearings to develop a comprehensive strategy to better support at-risk youths and help steer them away from negative paths and involvement in incidents of gun violence.

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), who has called for the Mayor and administration to declare a state of emergency around the gun violence crisis, and Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), who chairs Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention, jointly introduced a resolution calling for Johnson’s committee to hold hearings to develop a strategy focused particularly on at-risk youths.

The resolution notes the concerning increase in incidents of gun violence involving victims under the age of 18. In 2015, there were 81 juvenile shooting victims in Philadelphia – about 6 percent of all victims. In 2021, 213 youths were shot – nearly 10 percent of all victims. Meanwhile, the percentage of youths arrested for incidents of gun violence has increased from 5 percent of all arrests in 2015 to 17 percent of arrests thus far in 2022.

The resolution noted recent high-profile shootings involving juveniles, including the fatal shooting of a recreation center employee by a youth; the shooting of five teenage student football players outside Roxborough High School (several of the alleged perpetrators are juveniles); and a recent shooting of students outside Overbrook High School.

The resolution went on to reference a variety of youth programs that the city had been funding, but which have either suffered from reduced funding or not enough prioritization.

The joint resolution was offered – and approved by Council – as part of what Councilmember Gauthier called a “57 Blocks” strategy to urge the city to focus more attention and resources on specific blocks and neighborhoods where gun violence has been most prevalent.

Councilmembers Gauthier and Johnson held a briefing after Council for members and staff to learn more about the “57 Blocks” strategy.

The hearing of the Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention will be scheduled and held at a later date.

COUNCILMEMBER PHILLIPS CALLS FOR CITY TO STUDY THE PROBLEM OF LARGE TRUCK PARKING IN RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS

In his first legislative action since taking office last week, Councilmember Anthony Phillips (9th District) introduced a resolution that called on the Kenney administration and the Philadelphia Parking Authority to conduct an audit of semitrailer and truck tractor parking across the city, to investigate best practices in other jurisdictions, and to provide solutions to this growing citywide problem.

The resolution also authorized Council’s Committee on Streets and Services to hold hearings to assess the enforcement of semitrailer and truck tractor parking regulations across the city.

The resolution lays out the scope and scale of the problem of large trucks and tractor trailers parking in residential neighborhoods overnight – a quality of life concern for many neighbors and homeowners.

It notes that existing city regulations prohibit the practice, but that police are too short-staffed to assign existing officers to investigate complaints and ticket offenders.

The resolution calls for hearings “to understand how the Police Department and the Parking Authority can better coordinate the implementation of existing laws that are already on the books. Furthermore, we need to explore more permanent solutions, like repurposing large swaths of vacant land into truck parking lots, to ensure truck drivers can park within City limits without adversely impacting the quality of life in residential neighborhoods. Finally, we need to investigate best practices in other cities.”

The resolution will be assigned to committee and have a hearing scheduled at a later date.

COUNCILMEMBER THOMAS HONORS FIRST PHILLY PUBLIC SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYER TO BE ACCEPTED TO AN IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE IN FOUR DECADES

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (At Large), a champion of young people in Philadelphia and their accomplishments – both athletic and academic – offered a resolution honoring Jacob Beccles, an 18-year-old shooting guard, who has committed to attending Cornell University in the fall of 2023.

Beccles played in high school for the Constitution High School Generals basketball team, and is now completing a post-graduate season at Lawrenceville Prep school, where he’s focused on strengthening his academics with Advanced Placement (AP) courses to help further his chances of attending an Ivy League school.

At Cornell, Beccles wants to study Business and continue to grow his Basketball career. “His determination and perseverance on and off the court has paved the way for future generations in Philadelphia to play basketball at an Ivy League,” the resolution states.

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Councilmember Brian O’Neill (10th District) offered a resolution honoring Nicholas DeBenedictis, a longtime area business executive and civic leader in Philadelphia, for his many years of service as chair of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Board of Directors. DeBenedictis served in the cabinets of Pennsylvania governors, as chairman and CEO of Aqua America, and as president of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

 

The next Stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled to take place on Thursday, December 15, 2022 at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia City Hall, Room 400 and will air on Xfinity Ch. 64, Fios Channel 40 and stream at www.PHLCouncil.com/watch.

Weekly Stated Meetings will be in-person for the remainder of the year. Masks will be recommended and provided.

Out of an abundance of caution and with the public’s health in mind, public hearings will continue to be conducted remotely.

Featured Photo: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil

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