It might be easy to have overlooked this news, what with Chicago hogging the spotlight when it comes to skyrocketing numbers of shootings and homicides. But not far behind the city is Philadelphia, which has seen a 32% increase in homicides in 2020, with a total of 247 as of July 26th. (It’s gone up since then by a fair amount.) So far this year, the City of Brotherly Love has averaged three children being shot per week, with nine of those incidents being fatal.
Members of the community have long since lost patience with the municipal government, demanding real solutions and an end to the bloodshed. But for all of their talk, not much has changed. This led to an emergency City Council committee hearing being held this week. Members of the Council fired off questions at both District Attorney Larry Krasner and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, wanting to know what they were doing about the mounting death toll. One member of the Council told the local CBS outlet that the murdering of women and children on the city streets was “totally unacceptable.”
City Council members are calling for an end to the growing problem of gun violence in Philadelphia. Day 2 of a City Council committee hearing addressing the surge in gun violence took place Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw were peppered by City Council members.
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson joined Eyewitness News ahead of Wednesday’s hearing…
Johnson says the city is in a state of emergency, calling the murders of children, women and young people “totally unacceptable.”
Commissioner Johnson went on to say that the Council was “hand-in-hand aggressively with passion making sure we are reducing the level of gun violence.” I’m really not sure what that means, but he went on to add that “there is no way a 14 or 15-year-old should have a 9 MM gun with a clip that holds 15 bullets.”
While I certainly agree with Johnson on that last part, one has to wonder who he is blaming for this situation. It’s already illegal for a 14 or 15-year-old child to own a firearm of any type, to say nothing of a semiautomatic with an extended magazine. If there are kids that age running around with guns and shooting up the neighborhood, it sounds to me like you’ve got a serious gang violence problem on your hands, not a lack of gun control laws. Shockingly, many gang members still refuse to obey the gun control laws passed in major cities.
Part of Philadelphia’s explosion in shootings and homicides can probably be attributed to opportunism on the part of the gangs as they blend in with the various Black Lives Matter demonstrations and riots. We’ve seen the same pattern playing out in other major cities, most certainly including Chicago. But it can’t all be the fault of that phenomenon. Amazingly, Philly has seen less rioting and looting than many smaller cities, though there has certainly been some of that.
If I had to take a guess, I would say that at least some of the violence and chaos has been caused by poor municipal management and lax law enforcement policies. We’ve been covering these stories and trying to set off alarm bells since well before the virus went totally out of control. All the way back in the middle of March, Chief Outlaw and the District Attorney announced that they would be simultaneously delaying arresting people and releasing more suspects from jail, supposedly to deal with the novel coronavirus. Who were these inmates who were being released or left on the streets without being arrested? The DA wouldn’t tell the media, apparently out of privacy concerns.
In the middle of May, when Philly’s gangs were seen ramping up their business model in a marked fashion, what did Mayor Kenney do in response? He published a strongly worded letter, asking the gangs to “put their beefs aside” and leave more room in the hospitals’ ICU beds for virus victims. In June, when members of the mob broke into a local gun shop in an attempted robbery and pointed a handgun at the owner, the proprietor shot one of the looters dead. In response, Chief Outlaw declared that the city “does not endorse or condone any form of vigilante justice.”
Kenney, Krasner and Outlaw have been working on emptying the jails and hampering enforcement ever since they came into power. We predicted from the beginning that the gangs of Philadelphia would take advantage of this situation, along with the protests and riots. And they have. Philadelphia is rapidly sliding back toward levels of violence not seen since the early 90s. I’m not saying all of it could have been prevented, but it didn’t need to go this far off the rails before the public and the City Council had to begin screaming for some sort of corrective action.