Council’s Majority Leader Cherelle Parker, whose 9th District includes the Transportation Center, expressed deep concern about gun violence events in the city at Council on Thursday. She said that African-American and brown communities have been hard-hit by two pandemics: COVID-19 and gun violence.
Parker spoke of urgent needs for more mental health care, substance abuse counseling, better education and workforce services.
According to the Philadelphia City Council official website, the Councilmember referred to the unfortunate events that took place on Wednesday afternoon when eight people were shot in broad daylight near the Olney Transportation Center, a major transit hub. Two victims were in their 70s. Several were teenagers. While multiple-person shootings are sadly not uncommon in Philadelphia, the Olney incident clearly shook City Council.
“We need a one-stop shop located directly at Broad and Olney, a resources hub, where people can get help and access to assistance they need,” Parker said.
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Councilmembers Cindy Bass (8th District), whose district borders the Olney transit hub, and Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) and Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), longtime leaders of Council’s gun violence prevention work, echoed Parker’s comments with urgency.
A city-wide state of emergency
Multiple members commended Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), for being named to the National League of Cities’ Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. Gauthier has diligently sought Mayor Kenney’s assent to declare a citywide state of emergency on gun violence, following a resolution she authored that was overwhelmingly approved in Council last year.
The mayor said this week he wanted to find ways to accommodate some of the actions called for in Gauthier’s resolution.
Last year, Philadelphia suffered levels of homicides and shootings not experienced since the 1990s. Unfortunately, the first six weeks of 2021 have been deadlier still. Homicides are up 42 percent, while shootings have reached 51 percent.