Philly DA wants to hear from young people about the city’s gun violence epidemic

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media at a press conference

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media at a press conference on June 28, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is hosting three roundtable discussions with young people impacted by gun violence and the criminal justice system.

The series will be geared towards Philadelphians ages 15 to 25.

The goal is to give participants a platform to talk about their experiences, but also to provide an opportunity for them to pitch solutions to Philly’s gun violence epidemic, which is putting the city on pace to set a new single-year record for homicides.

More than 30 children under the age of 18 have been murdered so far this year.

“Our youth is missing hope,” said Felicia Pendleton, operations manager at the Nomo Foundation, during a news conference on Monday.

“When you have a district attorney that says, ‘You know what, I want to reach out to these youth, I want to speak to them,’ that gives a glimmer of hope because a lot of people don’t say, ‘Let me lend a hand to the youth. Let me help them up. Let me see where they’re coming from. Let me see their needs.’”

The first roundtable discussion will be Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Nomo Foundation, 925 N. Broad St. in the Francisville section of North Philly.

The second event will be held on Aug. 18, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Rock Ministries in Kensington, 2755 Kensington Ave.

The third and final discussion will be on Aug. 25, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Masjidullah Center for Excellence in West Oak Lane, 7401 Limekiln Pike.

Between 25 and 30 residents are expected to participate in each discussion, said G. Lamar Stewart, who leads the community engagement unit at the district attorney’s office.

During a news conference on Monday, District Attorney Larry Krasner said the idea came directly from residents who attended a series of town halls his office held earlier this summer.

“It came from people standing up in other town halls and saying, ‘We’re all talking to ourselves.’ People in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. ‘We’re all talking to ourselves. We’re not talking to the people who need to be reached. We’re not talking to the people who can give us the most interesting information, the best ideas,’” said Krasner.

He said these discussions may inform future anti-violence initiatives.

“We’re gonna try to figure out if there’s something that either our office can do or if there’s some way we can push that message,” said Krasner.

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