Brian X. McCrone

At North Philly Forum, Pennsylvania AG-Elect Shapiro Tells Leaders He ‘Cares Deeply' About Stopping Gun Violence

Chantay Love sat across from Pennsylvania's next attorney general, Josh Shapiro, at a North Philadelphia community center Tuesday and told him gun violence isn't a vague problem affecting the state's urban areas.

Love, a leader with the group Every Murder Is Real, said it's a scourge destroying whole generations of young people, and community organizations needed the attorney general's help.

"Partnerships are key to the survival of the black community," she said.

A dozen leaders with North Philly groups who work to lessen violence and crime gathered at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center at 21st Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Shapiro spent two hours mostly listening on one side of a table, accompanied by City Council President Darrell Clarke, police Commissioner Richard Ross, District Attorney Seth Williams and Sheriff Jewel Williams.

Shapiro at one point asked about what is working in the restless campaign by local leaders to lessen gun violence and its broader effect on the community.

"You're going to have an attorney general in seven weeks that cares deeply about this and will provide resources," Shapiro said. "What do you need from me?"

Brian X. McCrone/
Pennsylvania Attorney General-elect Josh Shapiro, second from right, listened to anti-gun violence leaders in North Philadelphia spoke during a forum, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.

Ross mentioned increased collaboration between the AG's office, particularly its Gun Violence Task Force, and federal authorities like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Dorothy Johnson-Speight, of Mothers in Charge, said the volunteer efforts of many people are already in place, but that their work could be expanded with financial support by the attorney general and other state offices.

"We do anger management counseling every day in our offices, no funding," Johnson-Speight said, listing a few of the initiatives her group oversees. "We are working every single day to make a difference."

The forum is the second in a series that Shapiro is holding before he is sworn in on Jan. 17. The Democrat and current Montgomery County commissioner previously represented a portion of Montgomery County in the Pennsylvania House and lives in Abington.

His first forum, held last month in Allentown, was framed around the issue of heroin addiction.

Clarke, who Shapiro described at the meeting as "the most powerful person in the city of Philadelphia," said he believes Shapiro will be an ardent supporter in strengthening Pennsylvania's "lost-and-stolen" gun reporting requirement. Clarke said he thinks it's the number one issue to heading off gun violence.

Shapiro has not yet said when his next forum will be.

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