In Philly, charter school students silently stand against city’s gun violence

The charter school recently lost five current and former students and a former high school English teacher to gun violence

By: - December 13, 2021 10:22 am

By Brian Saunders

PHILADELPHIA — Students and staff from Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School held a silent stand at City Hall for the gun violence plaguing the city.

Veronica Joyner, the school’s founder and chief administrator, said she is tired of nothing being done to curb the widespread violence throughout Philadelphia, which had 524 homicides as of Friday. The students and staff gathered the same day.

At 372 deaths, Black people make up 81 percent of this year’s homicides.

The charter school recently lost five current and former students and a former high school English teacher to gun violence.

“We have, to date, 524 murders, and we don’t want it to become a norm in the city,” Joyner said. “And it seems as if everybody’s going on like business as usual. We’re looking at a city that I was born and raised in, Philadelphia, known as the ‘City of Brotherly Love.’ But unfortunately, it is now known as ‘Killadelphia,’ the city of brotherly hate, and that needs to change.”

Joyner is calling for elected officials in City Council and state representatives to address the problem. She said City Council had passed legislation on street eateries, rat problems during building construction, and even third-party food delivery fee legislation, but feels City Council has ignored the gun violence problem.

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“The City Council has ignored the problem,” Joyner said. “I think representatives, senators and congress members have ignored the problem, as if it’s going to go away, and I don’t have that type of thinking, it is not going away. It’s getting worse.”

Joyner said she votes in every election and will not vote for officials who are not working towards a solution. She has had three events addressing gun violence, including a collaborative effort with District Attorney Larry Krasner. She held memorials for her students, and then Friday held a silent stand.

Joyner laid out a plan to help solve the problem and also admitted Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and the Philadelphia Police Department are understaffed.

“First of all, people should feel safe in their cities,” she said. “So there should be [street] lighting when you deal with some of these neighborhoods where the murders are,” Joyner said.

Joyner also wants cameras on every street.

Part of the problem is an excess of illegally owned and operated guns on the streets. Joyner said there is more gun power on the streets than in the police department.

“I’ve constantly said that Commissioner Outlaw did not create this problem,” Joyner said. “She inherited the problem, and she’s doing the best she can with limited force. And so the people who are committing the crime in the city know that and then continue to kill and murder people. We should never accept that. Every Black life matters. And they should matter every day.”

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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