PHILADELPHIA - A city councilmember is pleading with Mayor Jim Kenney to declare gun violence in Philadelphia a citywide emergency as the homicide rate continues to grow.
Makeshift memorials at shooting scenes are becoming commonplace in the city known for its “brotherly love.”
Police say in South Philly two teens Jaheim Lamarre and Zaharia McFadden, both 17, were cut down by gunfire pushing still higher the city’s grim murder count.
Philadelphia’s top cop sees the killings rooted in despair.
"The sense of hopelessness and despair you can hear, but we’ve had folks tell us there’s nothing you can do we’re going to do what we’re going to do," Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
A newly elected member of city council argues there is more to be done.
In a letter sent to the mayor last week and released to the press Wednesday after not hearing from Kenney, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier wants gun violence declared a “citywide emergency,” writing: “Let us be very clear: this is a racial justice issue. Our Black and brown communities have become war zones, as a result of decades of disinvestment and neglect.”
"We’re seeing this activity in communities that have been shut off from opportunity for a really long time. Communities that haven’t had appropriate investment in schools, housing," Gauthier said.
Gauthier believes the declaration will bring more resources and attention to help stop the shooting.
The mayor argues COVID-19 has hampered city efforts to meet young people, who may shoot or be shot, on their own turf and points, once again, to the flow of deadly weapons on city streets.
"That’s a major part of the problem is access to those weapons. We need help from Congress and the Pennsylvania legislature to eliminate weapons being available to anybody," Mayor Kenney said.
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