Philly outreach effort hopes to target gun violence hotspots

A memorial on 60th Street in West Philadelphia

File - A memorial on 60th Street in West Philadelphia remembers those gunned down at a community gathering on July 4, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A new joint effort aims to help tackle Philadelphia’s unrelenting gun violence epidemic.

The “Third Thursday Initiative” — a collaboration between city, state, and community leaders — hopes to educate residents about what resources are available to address and prevent gun violence.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephen Kinsey unveiled the initiative at a press conference on Wednesday along with the city’s Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and the 14th and 35th police districts.

Community leaders and advocates — including Mama Chris of the Northwest Community Coalition for Youth, Joey Budd from Men Who Care of Germantown, Mike Brown of the Action for Justice Collective, and Pastor Rob Harrison of New Journey Christian Center — were among those who joined city and state officials in announcing the effort.

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Last year, more than 550 people were murdered in Philadelphia, a rate unseen since police first began tracking killings in 1960. Close to 2,000 others were injured.

The city is on track for another violent year in 2022. As of Wednesday, at least 79 people have been killed so far, according to the Philadelphia Police Department.

The initiative will kick off on Thursday, March 17, occurring every third Thursday of the month thereafter.

Officials plan to distribute information on community, city, and state resources to residents within specific crime hotspots.

Kinsey, who represents parts of East Germantown and Ogontz, was joined by state Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald and Darisha Parker. The trio of Philly Democrats said they were hopeful about the new collaborative effort.

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Kinsey spoke to the importance of having “as many people as possible” working together to eradicate gun violence.

Parker, whose district touches Germantown, Nicetown, and Tioga, said, “We can’t keep waking up to yellow tape and bloodshed.”

“We need to make these collaborative efforts available to everyone who wants to help us in the fight against gun violence,” said Parker.

If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources online.

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