The new year has arrived— but last year’s staggering homicide rate is still on the minds of Philadelphians.
499. That is how many people died. More than a death a day. Residents and groups want solutions and that is what Germantown Info Hub will explore in a three part series.
Each episode will highlight a different aspects of solutions: activism, grassroots solutions, victim therapeutic support, and legislative work. Jamal Johnson of ‘Stop Killing Us’ or SKU is one of six guests for the radio series. His goal is to bring gun violence to officials’ attention. He says a fundamental component of resolving the city’s gun violence is for Mayor Jim Kenney to acknowledge it as high-priority.
“He would have to declare this to be an emergency in Philadelphia, that it would be put to the level of the COVID crisis,” Johnson says. “We want it on that same level, but first he must declare an emergency, which he has not done.”
On January18, Johnson will begin a hunger strike outside of City Hall to push Mayor Kenney to acknowledge support City Council Resolution 200447, primarily a call for for the mayor to “declare gun violence a citywide emergency and develop an urgent, unrelenting response to the gun violence epidemic plaguing Black and Brown neighborhoods in Philadelphia…”
In addition to recognition, PA House of Representative for 198th District Darisha K. Parker says community groundwork is just as imperative as laws. She says possible solutions can emerge when officials talk to people in the neighborhoods; asking individuals what will make them stop buying or using guns.
“You can’t just talk to them about a job,” Parker says. “We need to expose them and provide grants and different things as far as how to set up your business, how to be a legitimate business owner, how to do your taxes, and different things.”
Conversations with young people is a second aspect Nikki Bagby finds important. The mother of six created Save Just One Child, a mentoring and support program for school children. Through the program, Bagby provides a space for young people to speak about trauma, especially experiences from gun violence. These safe spaces at school are important when the home can not provide the needed environment.
“So if we can’t start with the parents at the home,” Bagby says, “let’s start making “homes”, in schools; with curriculum and mental health support services. So that kids can express and get their feelings out because they’re not able to do that.”
However creating new laws may be the trickiest aspect of Philadelphia’s anti-gun violence pursuit. Officials like Parker say it is easy to obtain guns in the city, and while late last year Philadelphia announced a lawsuit toward PA for lax gun laws, a win is unlikely. The Germantown 2020 homicide count was under 20 deaths, but had 57 arrests for robbery with firearms and 190 aggravated assaults with firearms.
Some good news is that the Germantown homicide was lower than the city, the other statistics show that guns are in the neighborhood.
Jamal Johnson, Darisha Parker, and Nikki Bagby will be guests on the series, including Councilmember and Council Chair for Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention Kenyatta Johnson, Kimberly Kamara of Never-Ending Emotion [NEEM], and trauma therapist Dr. Meagen Corrado. The show will broadcast from Jan. 14 to Jan. 28, every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m on G-Town Radio 92.9 FM.