The City of Brotherly Love has been a lot less loving over the past year or more, particularly out in the streets. While still coming nowhere near the disastrous conditions in Baltimore and Chicago, Philadelphia has seen a spike in violent crime after experiencing more than a decade of steady declines in violence. This has been particularly alarming on the city’s south side in the First Police District.
This week, the Philadelphia PD scheduled a town hall so residents could come with their questions, offer suggestions and find out what was being done to address the problem. And they showed up in force, giving the police officials who hosted the meeting an earful. (CBS Philadelphia)
Residents packed the 1st Police District in South Philadelphia Tuesday night to express their concerns about crime in their neighborhood — perhaps representing how many people feel throughout the city with the uptick in violent crimes plaguing the city.
“I can’t walk across the street by myself without the fear of — now its guns,” one person said. “It’s not knives. I can take a beating.”
Those who live within the police department’s 1st District gathered to speak with the police captain and community officers who patrol their streets.
The meeting was the first since a disturbing discovery was made last week.
The “disturbing discovery” referenced in the article was the body of an 18-year-old male in the basement of a house located in the district. One neighbor who was at the meeting said that he watches at least “six drug deals a day” taking place in front of that house and asked the Police Chief what the threshold was to call 911. He was told he should have already called. Here’s a brief video of some of the action at the meeting. People seem to be both frightened and angry.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to piece together what’s going on. Like too many other cities, Philadelphia is seeing a resurgence in gang activity and violence. It may start with street-level drug dealing in small transactions, but it ramps up from there as gangs compete for territory and market share. Violence follows close behind. To inappropriately steal a recent social media meme for some gallows humor here… and then the murders began.
But it’s not a joke. As we’ve discussed here previously, 2019 saw the greatest number of murders in a dozen years, with 355 people being killed. That’s ten more than Baltimore, but it’s still not nearly as bad of a homicide rate since Philadelphia has literally more than twice as many people.
This year, things are off to an even worse start. The city recorded 30 homicides in the first 21 days of the year, continuing to average more than one killing per day. Other violent crimes, including rape and assault, were up across the board as well.
As we discussed earlier this month, the burden of addressing this violent crime epidemic falls on the shoulders of Mayor Jim Kenney. He was elected in 2016 on a platform of RESISTing Donald Trump, raising soda taxes, setting up supervised, public drug injection sites and getting the police under control. But rather than improving things, residents have seen the murder rate in the city climb significantly under Kenney’s tenure, going from 277 in 2016 to 356 last year.
And what has the Mayor done in response? Well, he held a gun turn-in event that produced a whopping total of six firearms of dubious quality that most self-respecting gang bangers wouldn’t be seen with in public. But Mayor Kenney wanted this job and he got it. Now it’s time to do the right thing.