On the eve of a speech by the mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Philadelphia officials gathered at Philadelphia City Hall Thursday.
Law enforcement and social services leaders spoke out ahead of the speech scheduled for Friday at noon at the National Urban League Conference that’s being held in Philadelphia.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison said recent events have shocked many people.
With the 17-year-old gone and the jury’s decision made, Gillision said the priority now should be “to actually take a moment to pause, to sit down and ask ourselves what are we doing in order to make sure there are no more Trayvons?”
Gillison said the city is taking a holistic, long-term approach to fighting crime in Philadelphia through strategies including public safety, human services and education.
“Poverty is no excuse for violence,” he said. “Let me say that again. Poverty is no excuse for violence. However it is something that we have to deal with which is why we ended up having as part of the strategy, and including in this strategy, a strong commitment to work.”
Education can help reduce violence, said Lori Shorr, the city’s chief education officer.
“One of the things that we know is that when students are actively engaged in education, when they receive their high school degree, when they can either connect to a job or to college, that they’re more likely to be safe,” she said.
Other approaches the city is using to combat crime include deploying police foot patrols and working with community members in neighborhoods with chronic problems.