17 shot during weekend violence in Philadelphia; gun violence prevention organization works for change

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was another deadly weekend in the City of Philadelphia.

According to the Center for Gun Violence Reporting at the Community College of Philadelphia, there were 15 shooting incidents from Friday through Sunday, leaving 17 people shot.

An 18-year-old was killed and 11-year-old Harley Belance was also shot and killed while riding his bike. The boy's 14-year-old friend was wounded.

Philadelphia police say on Saturday, seven people were shot outside of a social club in the city's Fishtown section. Four of the seven victims were hospitalized in critical condition.

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Family and friends gathered Saturday to remember an 11-year-old boy who was shot and killed on Friday as Philadelphia police continue to look for the shooter.

For years, Jim MacMillan has remained at the forefront of community involvement while tracking gun violence in Philadelphia.

The former photojournalist now heads the Center for Gun Violence Reporting at the Community College of Philadelphia.

"I think there has been momentum for a long time, but I think we're on a new level right now," said MacMillan. "We had a dramatic increase in gun violence starting around a year ago, and it's been continuing to creep up ever since."

Community involvement has increased in the form of small organizations doing "boots on the ground" work on their own and many have been collaborating with the city.

SEE ALSO: 7 people shot in Fishtown; 4 in critical condition
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7 people shot in Fishtown section of Philadelphia; 4 in critical condition

The City of Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and other local leaders began hosting bi-weekly gun violence meetings to address the crime spike.

City Council began a special Committee on Gun Violence prevention in 2017. Since then, an entire office for gun violence prevention has formed and is growing.

MacMillan believes taking cues from the city's handling of the pandemic in regard to the press conferences they held could be more fruitful for the new bi-weekly meetings moving forward. Leaders should address the impact the gun crisis has had on the city as a whole, including the financial impact, much like during the height of the pandemic, says MacMillan.

"What's the burden on hospitals? How many gunshot patients are in our hospitals right now?" asks MacMillan. "What are the victim demographics? Who is suffering? Intervention programs can be really helpful, but eradicating gun violence calls for addressing the root causes in cities like Philadelphia."
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