The city of Philadelphia has experienced a spike in crime this year with homicides up 24.5% and shootings up 25.4% so far this year according to data from the Philadelphia Police Department, but Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney refuses to bring in the National Guard to aid in the crisis claiming it is “not respectful.”
Kenney’s comments are in response to calls by two local anti-crime organizations who called on city officials to request a National Guard presence in the city this week after five shootings that occurred over the span of one day claimed the lives of two men and injured seven people.
“When they needed to protect buildings they brought in the National Guard. So now it’s not OK to bring in the Guard to protect people?” a frustrated Stanley Crawford, cofounder of the Families of Unsolved Murder Victims Project and the Black Male Community Council, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. Crawford’s son was murdered in 2018.
“Bring them in and use them strategically. They have the data and the statistics to know where the violence is occurring. Put the National Guard there. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. Just until you stabilize the murders and shootings,” Crawford suggested.
Another local advocate, Jamal Johnson agreed with Crawford.
“I’m glad he said it, even if people don’t want to hear it. It’s an action. Something is being done, as opposed to a bunch of talk, and we do need action. And when people say, ‘You want to bring in the man,’ I have one question for them: Are you ready for somebody in your family to die?” Johnson told the Inquirer.
Johnson went on a 26-day hunger strike earlier this year to protest gun violence and said he called for the Guard to be brought in last year. He is currently leading a march to Washington to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and to lobby for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021.
The mayor, however, has no plans to cave to the request but is reportedly considering other ways to stem the violence.
“We used the National Guard in the civil unrest period to secure areas that needed to be secured from looting and burning, and it freed up the police to do other things, but to send in the National Guard and a troop carrier into a neighborhood in Philadelphia, to me, is not respectful to that neighborhood, number one. Number two, they are not capable or trained to do urban policing, or do policing of any kind,” Mayor Kenney said Wednesday during a press conference on gun violence response.
“This is a very complex issue. Some may want additional law enforcement presence for added security, but we also learned last year during the height of social activism and unrest following the murder of George Floyd that others are traumatized by over-policing and military presence in our neighborhoods,” said Kenney’s spokesperson, Deana Gamble.
Kenney came under fire last month after he refused to declare a state of emergency in response to gun violence in the city, which is currently on pace to exceed the all-time high murder rate of 500 from 1990. The mayor claimed the order would do nothing to stop the violence.
Thus far in 2021, Philadelphia has seen 2,525 shooting incidents that have left 1,449 people injured according to Fox News. 340 people have been murdered in the first eight months of 2021. Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said in an analysis released Thursday that the city allocated $155 million for anti-violence initiatives in the budget, of which $33 million will address gun violence.
In response to the rising levels of gun violence, the City budgeted $155 million for anti-violence spending in FY22. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency around how taxpayer money is spent, we are releasing an analysis of those budgeted funds. https://t.co/znwtP54F0A
— Controller Rhynhart (@PhilaController) August 19, 2021
One of the victims killed in the gun violence this week was an 18 year old boy and a friend of Crawford’s granddaughter who was deeply affected by the murder according to the Inquirer.
“An 18-year-old getting killed. No matter what the cause was, they didn’t have the right to kill him. Until those individuals in charge of this city know how it feels like to have to check on your granddaughter who’s wailing all night, they will not understand,” Crawford added, “I couldn’t sleep last night and I don’t know how these city officials can sleep.”
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