Philly City Council to hold anti-gun violence hearing as city gets off to a bloody year

Hundreds of men from anti-violence organizations attend a #ManUpPHL event at the Community College of Philadelphia on Monday night (Philadelphia Tribune photo by John N. Mitchell)

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — A violent start to 2020 has prompted Philadelphia City Council members to schedule a hearing on gun violence this week.

Councilman Curtis Jones called on officials and residents to “not regurgitate the problem” around homicides and shootings when he holds a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Christian Stronghold Baptist Church, 4701 Lancaster Ave.

Instead, the 4th District legislator tasked them to “come up with solutions, collaborations” and support those programs already working.

The hearing, held by the council’s Committee on Public Safety which Jones heads, will touch on the efforts of #ManUpPHL, a peer-to-peer mentoring initiative helmed by WURD Radio host and columnist Solomon Jones.

At-large Councilman Derek Green, who introduced the resolution calling for the hearing, said gun violence goes beyond policing during the City Council session Thursday.

“Too often we talk about these issues in silos, when they’re all interconnected: Poverty, public safety, economic vitality are all tied together,” he said.

The city has logged 39 homicides as of Thursday, up 26 percent from the same time last year and putting the city on a track to reach 375 murders by year’s end.

Last year, Philadelphia had 356 homicides, the highest total since 2007. Black men accounted for 73 percent of all homicide victims in 2019.

The number of shooting victims was 120 as of Tuesday, up 1.7 percent from the same time last year.

The crisis of gun violence has a disproportionate impact on the city’s youth, said at-large Councilwoman Helen Gym.

She added that any solutions must include changes and collaboration between the courts, prosecutors, Philadelphia Police Department and school district.

“When it comes to the safety and care of young people, we do not have an anti-violence strategy,” Gym said.

Danielle Outlaw will take over as police commissioner on Monday, the first Black woman to ever head the 6,500-member department. It was unclear whether she intended to attend the meeting.

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.