Philly Mayor Jim Kenney faces calls for resignation over shooting comments
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaks Wednesday, 3/17/21 during a biweekly update on the city’s gun violence response (Philadelphia Tribune)
By Christina Kristofic
PHILADELPHIA — A state representative and several Philadelphia City Council members have called on Mayor Jim Kenney to resign after he said he’s looking forward to not being the mayor anymore during a television news interview about the shooting at the Welcome America event on July 4.
“I think the mayor’s comments were asinine,” District 9 Councilmember Cherelle Parker said Tuesday. “I didn’t Tweet about it, post it. I picked up the telephone and I called him, and I told him that ‘If you can feel this way, imagine how Philadelphians who don’t have the ability to check out feel on a daily basis. None of our stress is heavier than the people who are altering their lives on a daily basis — every block, every community, every neighborhood. And they don’t want us to say, ‘We’ve thrown up our hands. We can’t do anything.’ We don’t have the luxury to do that.”
State Rep. Amen Brown, D-Philadelphia, said Kenney’s comments were “beyond tone deaf and a slap in the face to the families and communities that have been impacted by gun violence.”
He called on the mayor to resign his post.
The city is in crisis, At-Large Councilmember Allan Domb said on Twitter.
Philadelphia Police crime statistics show that 267 people had been victims of homicide as of 11:59 p.m. on July 4 — down 5 percent from the same time last year. The city counted a record high total of 562 homicide victims in 2021.
“It is beyond time for [Kenney] to resign for the good of the city and its residents,” Domb said on Twitter.
“We are all exhausted by the level of gun violence in our City. However, our City needs someone now with the passion and vision to lead us forward. Resign,” said At-Large Councilmember Derek Green in a Tweet that tagged Kenney.
Domb, Green, and Parker all are considering running for mayor in 2024.
Brown said Philadelphians need a leader “who cares about us, not one who is checked out and lacking empathy. He needs to face the people. He has done next to nothing when it comes to the communities that are ravaged by gun violence; he should be out in those communities visiting victims, trying to find solutions, but he’s hiding in City Hall.”
Shootings have become almost a daily occurrence in Philadelphia. In 2018, when city officials counted 353 homicide victims, that was the highest number of homicides in 20 years. The numbers have steadily increased each of the last four years.
The July 4 shooting happened around 9:45 p.m. in the 2500 block of Spring Garden Street, close to where thousands of people had gathered to watch the annual Welcome America concert and fireworks. Two police officers were injured and the crowds scattered.
Kenney spoke to reporters outside Jefferson Hospital a little after midnight on Tuesday.
“I’m concerned every single day. There’s not an event or a day where I don’t lay on my back at night and look at the ceiling and worry about stuff,” Kenney said.
The mayor said he hasn’t enjoyed holidays or any of the major events the city has hosted in the last seven years. “I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor and I can enjoy some stuff,” he said, with a rare smile.
On Tuesday afternoon, Kenney walked back his comments in a statement.
“In a late-night, overwhelming moment of frustration, I said I was looking forward to no longer being mayor. Let me be clear, I’m incredibly grateful to be mayor of this great city and for the people who elected me to lead,” Kenney said.
He continued: “I made Philadelphians feel like I don’t care, and that cannot be further from the truth. I’ve said it many times before, I lay awake at night thinking about the challenges facing the residents in our city and what more we can be doing or doing differently to solve them. Being mayor comes with a lot of restless nights, so I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep.”
Christina Kristofic is the acting city editor of the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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