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21 Jul 2021

Statement from Councilmember Gauthier Regarding Mayor Kenney’s Refusal to Declare Gun Violence Emergency in Philadelphia

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July 21, 2021 Category: Local Posted by:

PHILADELPHIA Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) today issued the following statement on Mayor Jim Kenney’s decision not to pursue an emergency response to Philadelphia’s unprecedented gun violence crisis:

“Late yesterday, by way of a letter to my office, Mayor Kenney made it known that he will not execute an emergency response to Philadelphia’s worsening gun violence crisis. This is an insult to the residents of my district and people across our city who have been traumatized by the violence in their neighborhoods, and it’s an extreme disappointment to all of us who have been advocating for a more urgent response from the Kenney Administration on this matter.

“Nearly a year has passed since City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 200447, which presents a detailed set of proposed steps that our city could take — such as greater speed and transparency on the implementation of gun violence prevention initiatives, enhanced coordination among relevant City agencies, and leveraging the resources of Philadelphia’s dynamic business community — in order to treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves, and invest more in tackling it from a public health perspective.

“For the Mayor to offer such a flippant, tone-deaf response to our call for action after so much time has gone by, and so many people have been injured or killed, is simply unconscionable.

“The Mayor’s letter did nothing to address the reality of what people in my district are grappling with on a daily basis. To give you a sense: in the last two weeks alone, there was a mass shooting on 60th Street, where two people died; a mass shooting this past Friday at Bartram’s Village, where one of the five victims was a 14-year-old girl; a shooting at a corner store on Saturday where a one-year-old baby was shot in his mother’s arms, as she shopped for groceries; on Sunday, a triple shooting at 53rd and Market, and a triple shooting in Kingsessing; and a triple shooting last night in Mill Creek. These incidents don’t just affect shooters and victims. They inflict trauma on everyone who lives nearby, who have to contend with the daily reality of unrelenting violence in their backyards.

“It is inconceivable to me that Mayor Kenney would take the stance that he is currently doing enough to address this crisis, as his letter lays out. If he really believes that’s true, then he needs to work much harder to prove it. Because from the vantage point of people on the ground in violence-plagued neighborhoods, many of whom are afraid to leave their homes and go about their daily lives, things are getting worse — not better.

“We also must acknowledge that it’s Black people who are bearing the brunt of this epidemic. The idea of our city using ‘Black Lives Matter’ as a slogan, but not treating our gun violence crisis as a priority, turns this powerful statement into a farce. If this level of violence were happening in white neighborhoods, I am certain Mayor Kenney would move hell and high water to bring it to an end as quickly as possible.

“The effort for a citywide emergency declaration on gun violence was never about a symbolic gesture. It was about harnessing the collective power of our city to fight this deadly crisis, and doing so with an urgency that reflects how much we care about the wellbeing of Philadelphians. I am beyond disheartened by this outcome, but it won’t weaken my resolve. I will not stop fighting for justice for our neighborhoods until safety is restored to our streets.”

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