Philadelphia on Sunday surpassed 400 killings within its borders, a worrying statistic that flies in the face of local, state and federal officials’ efforts to stem a rise in gun violence in the city.
In 2020, the city ended up with 499 killings, only one short of the record 500 slayings in 1990. The alarming rise during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted officials to redouble violence prevention methods, but instead, 2021 has seen killings at a higher rate than the year prior.
As of Monday morning, the homicide count was at 404, including Charitza Rodriguez Reyes who was gunned down along West Lippincott Street Sunday evening. Killings are up 18% from the same time last year.
“I am heartbroken and outraged that we’ve lost more than 400 Philadelphians to preventable violence this year,” Mayor Jim Kenney said Sunday on Twitter. “My heart goes out to all families suffering from enormous grief. Our administration continues to act with urgency to reduce violence and save lives.”
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District Attorney Larry Krasner, meanwhile, characterized the gun violence as “senseless” and “preventable” while calling on greater investment for schools and social programs benefiting kids, as well as better use of technology to solve crimes and greater accountability within the criminal justice system “so that there is more trust among community members and potential witnesses in the police and criminal justice system.”
In June, Philadelphia’s city council approved a fiscal 2022 budget that invests over $155 million in violence prevention programs to help curb the city’s escalating gun violence. That sum includes $22 million in grants for organizations focused on “reducing violence through trauma-informed healing and restorative practices and safe havens and mentorship.”
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The new city budget also funds a $400 million program to create affordable housing, preserve neighborhoods, increase job growth, supports anti-poverty measures and continue police reform. It also gives additional funds to revitalize the city’s arts, culture and hospitality sectors.
Efforts to stem violent crime in Philadelphia have extended beyond the city.
On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and other elected state leaders were in West Philadelphia to encourage to urge community-based violence prevention groups to apply for millions of dollars in state grants. As they spoke four people were shot in a drive-by nearby, underscoring how pervasive the issue has become.
At the federal level, President Joe Biden’s administration chose Philadelphia as one of 15 cities across the country to take part in a collaborative effort to share violence prevention strategies.
The violence, however, has continued.
“I know most Philadelphians are rightfully outraged and frustrated by our city's rise in violence,” Kenney said on Twitter. “Please know, our administration takes this crisis very seriously. We are committed to working with all of our criminal justice & community partners to create a safer city for us all.”
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.