What to Know
- In the first 39 days of 2020, there have been 39 murders in Philadelphia -- and that follows a murder count in 2019 that was the highest in more than a decade.
- Mothers and friends of victims gathered in rallies and vigils Saturday to demand the city take more action.
- Mayor Jim Kenney, who attended one of the gatherings, took responsibility for lowering the murder count but said lawmakers must stem the flow of guns.
Shonda McClellan can't stop thinking about the milestones she's missed after the fatal shooting of her 17-year-old daughter, Erica.
"I'll never walk her down the aisle, never be a grandmom to the children she would have had. She would have been a sophomore in college this year. So it hurts," she said.
And Shonda can't stop thinking about the day she had to identify Erica at the morgue. They showed her a picture. Seeing it was so painful that Shonda has filled her home with photos of her daughter alive to try to overwrite the memory.
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"I have photos of her all over my house because I never want to remember that image of her laying on that morgue table," Shonda said.
Shonda McClellan was among the family members that gathered in North Philadelphia on Saturday to force the city's attention to the ravages of gun violence. They were brought together by Moms Demand Action, which pressures lawmakers to change gun laws and seeks to raise awareness about gun violence.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney attended the event. Those who spoke wanted him to hear their pain and, especially, their demands for action.
"Guns will never go away, but having a common-sense gun law would help a lot," said Rosalind Pichardo. "And it shouldn’t be easily accessible [to get] a long gun.”
Pichardo's brother, Alexander Martinez, was killed in 2012 as he tried to stop his nephew from being robbed. His case was never solved, and her father died a little over a year after his death. Pichardo believes her father's heart couldn't bear the grief.
Interviewed at the Moms Demand Action event, Kenney took responsibility for the city's murder rate, but said lawmakers must also do more to stop the flow of guns.
"While I will take responsibility for getting those numbers down, someone has to shoulder responsibility for allowing those weapons in our society -- and that’s the problem," Kenney said.
Erica McClellan was killed on November 12, 2017, one of 315 homicides in Philadelphia that year. Since then, the numbers of homicides in the city have only grown.
In 2018, there were 353 homicides in Philadelphia. In 2019, there were 356. So far this year there have been 39 homicides, a pace of one per day.
That number includes Quadir Flippen's death on Thursday. Flippen, 31, was found shot to death in his car just before 6 a.m. He had been on his way to open up the Black Seed Cafe in Philadelphia, where he was executive chef.
He had been shot through the window. His car was still running.
Saturday, Flippen's family and members of his community held two gatherings in his memory.
Saturday evening, more than 100 people gathered at a vigil to mourn. Flippen was remembered as a leader in his community who had served on a city panel about black male engagement.
"Somebody decided to wake up that morning and take his life -- for what?" said Dayan Hayes, a friend of Flippen's. "He was a good guy. He was driven, he was focused. He had dreams, aspirations."
Earlier in the afternoon, Flippen's community rallied to call for an end to the violence in the city.
"We are in a crisis as a city, because each day when we wake up , we learn about some young person losing their life to gun violence," said City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who attended the rally.
There has not been an arrest in Flippen's case, and police are looking for tips. Anyone with information can submit a tip online or by calling 215-686-TIPS.
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence. Further information can be found here.