Rep. Thomas, community rally to stop violence in Philly
Organizers call for city to take concrete steps to address violence
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 10 – State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila., joined with victims’ families, community organizations and activists at a rally today to call attention to the senseless violence tormenting Philadelphia.
Already this year more than 770 shooting victims have been reported in Philadelphia (a 10 percent increase from 2017); including 130 fatalities. Tragically, those fatal shootings include 10 children aged 5 to 17 since April alone.
“This has to stop,” Thomas said. “We cannot let Philadelphia or any other community in Pennsylvania become another Chicago.”
The rally included a remembrance for the children killed in recent violence and recognition of the tragic consequences violence has on their families as well as a call to action for the mayor, police commissioner, state attorney general, state police, elected officials, the city’s department of behavioral health and other organizations in the city’s social workers network to address the issues plaguing Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.
Those at the rally, including Thomas, also asked for the declaration of a public health crisis in Philadelphia.
“We need our civic leaders to be engaged in addressing this issue in a sustainable way,” Thomas said, calling for a coordinated and collaborate effort to tackle the issue. “The violence has reached a point where it is destroying families and communities. Stopping the senseless violence in our neighborhoods needs to be a priority.”
To that end, community organizers have vowed to rally every Friday until the city’s leaders meet with them to talk about real-world initiatives to address the violence.
Organizations that attended the rally included Cease Fire PA; Black Lives Matter; March For Our Lives; the Father’s Day Rally Committee; Empower; the Communities that Care Coalition; and Forget Me Knot Youth Services.
Together they, along with Thomas, highlighted several recommendations that they believe the city and organizations serving the community should explore, including; accepting and declaring a public health emergency; seeking an exception to the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Law to give the city more latitude in addressing gun violence; encouraging communities to form networks and engage in activities to strengthen ties between law enforcement and the neighborhoods they serve and collaborating with a wide variety of agencies and organizations when developing anti-violence initiatives including public housing authorities, county sheriffs and institutional police agencies.
“Enough is enough. At the end of the day there are too many communities that are suffering,” Thomas said. “It’s not enough to say; ‘We care.’ We have to be serious about addressing the violence in our city. If we really want to save lives and give our kids a successful future, then we need to do more.”