Jul 31, 2021
From The Philadelphia Tribune
City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, at microphone, and City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, right, say that Mayor Jim Kenney must do more to combat gun violence in Philadelphia. —TRIBUNE PHOTO/ABDUL R. SULAYMAN
TRIBUNE PHOTO/ABDUL R. SULAYMAN
In a letter last week from City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier and City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart to Mayor Jim Kenney, they identified 14 ZIP codes that are most affected by gun violence.
Gauthier and Rhynhart offered concrete actions that would help break the cycle of violence. Their approach also calls for progress to be measured and reported as the city fights this issue.
The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity lent their support to Gauthier and Rhynhart’s demands. And U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans called on Kenney to “take immediate action” in a letter last week.
The mayor replied Thursday to the pair’s July 22 demands point by point in a six-page letter that ended with “This work is too difficult and too important to be weaponized to advance a political career or agenda.”
In a response to his response, Gauthier and Rhynhart said Friday “our goal is to stop the bloodshed in our neighborhoods.”
They also gave a new deadline to get specifics on progress with initiatives tied to Kenney’s violence prevention plan, which is called “Roadmap to Safer Communities.” The plan includes a timeline for community engagement strategies as well as expanded hours at libraries and recreation centers in areas most impacted by gun violence
Once they get the requested details, Gauthier and Rhynhart want to meet with the mayor and his team during the week of Aug. 9.
They ended Friday’s letter with “there is no political agenda here. Our only goal is to prevent more Philadelphians from being murdered or injured in 2021, and we are suggesting concrete ways to do that.”
As of Thursday, Philadelphia has had 319 homicides. This is a 29% increase from this time last year. Of these killings, 275 have been shooting victims, of which 84% were Black.
It was noted that some of the initiatives proposed by Kenney will not go into effect until the fall. Gauthier and Rhynhart wrote Friday that “considering the volume of gun violence incidents happening on a daily basis, we need a plan to expand programming at recreation centers immediately.”
The city’s surge in gun violence is not letting up and it deserves an emergency response. The fall is too late and too many Philadelphians are dying now.