‘Mad or nah?’: Philly residents react to debate over declaring gun violence an emergency

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Police tape marks off a crime scene near Olney Transportation Center

Eight people were injured in a Feb. 17 shooting near Olney Transportation Center in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

At this time last year, the number of homicide victims was 53. So far in 2021, more than 70 people in Philadelphia have been killed by gun violence.

Residents are expressing fear and outrage at the gun violence. One man, Jamal Johnson, staged a hunger strike on Jan. 18, and only recently suspended it after meeting with Mayor Jim Kenney — he has threatened to restart it if the city doesn’t treat violence as a public health issue.

The debate over whether to declare gun violence a citywide emergency has been increasing in recent weeks. Councilmember Jamie Gauthier — who in September of last year wrote a letter to Mayor Kenney asking him to declare gun violence a citywide emergency — has renewed her call.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Helen Ubiñas recently tweeted: “At this point, the semantic disputes over emergency is absurd.”

Tamara Russell, aka Revive P.O.C., hit the streets of Philadelphia to see how residents feel about the debate on whether to declare gun violence a citywide emergency.

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