State Rep.-elect Smith-Wade-El’s statement on violence in Lancaster City

LANCASTER, Dec. 13 -- Rep.-elect Ismail Smith-Wade-El has issued the following statement:

“Over the past two weeks, Lancaster City has seen four separate shootings, and what appears to have been a dangerous accidental discharge of a firearm last night. Three of these shootings took place in the 49th Legislative District. These acts of violence are taking the lives of our loved ones, devastating our friends and neighbors, and undermining the safety that we deserve to feel in our communities.

“Investigations are ongoing into these shootings. While there is much we do not yet know about the circumstances of these needless acts of violence, we know all too well their devastating impact: children left without their parents and parents left without their children. From the candlelight vigils and public outpourings of emotion, we do know those who have been harmed and killed are deeply loved by their friends and family. We offer our condolences and our prayers to all affected.

“Luis Oscar Sanchez, Wakiel Jones, and James Jeffery Diggs deserved better. Their families deserve better. Our blocks, our community deserves better.

“Let me be clear: our vision for this community has no place for gun violence, and no place for the legal and social apathy that enables it. We all deserve to feel safe in the places that we call home and we all have a responsibility to make that vision a reality.

“We deserve representatives who will take action to get guns out of our community. That requires passing meaningful legislation on firearm safety and possession, the kind of legislation that out-of-touch lawmakers in thrall of the gun lobby have not passed in over two decades.

“We must also address the multiple epidemics contributing to gun violence in our community: COVID, RSV, a housing crisis, guns flooding our streets, not enough jobs, not enough support, staff or funding in our classrooms.

“Poverty destabilizes communities and is a root cause of gun violence. We know that when communities are stable and supported, violence decreases.

“Our people deserve safe, affordable housing where they and their families can live free from dangerous lead poisoning or the constant shadow of eviction and homelessness. Our people deserve family-sustaining jobs at fair wages.

“We must ensure that our children feel safe and supported in our schools and provide accessible after-school and community programs throughout our city and parks for them to play in.

“We deserve and demand a strategy to fight gun violence that prioritizes investment in our communities over incarceration after the fact, support - not shame - for our students, and a hard look at how neglect and disinvestment have laid the groundwork for this kind of violence. We can stem the tide of homicides and suicides across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but we can only do so together.

“This must be the year that the halls of government, not just in Lancaster, but in Harrisburg, take these demands seriously. My office will prioritize gun safety, affordable housing, a living wage, and investment in our students in Harrisburg, and I am ready to stand beside those already doing this work here in Lancaster.”