'We have our own pandemic': Local anti-violence leader frustrated as Philadelphia nears 500 homicides on the year

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For Philadelphia residents, there are plenty of emotions surrounding the city's homicide rate in 2020.

This includes the struggle to solve these homicides, along with the challenges posed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't want blood on anyone's hands, to go retaliate. I myself have already forgiven," said Emmanuel Kitchen, speaking to those who gathered outside his home on Wednesday night. .

His daughter, 24-year-old Ebony Kitchen, was killed earlier in the week.

She worked for The School District of Philadelphia delivering food for the children.

"The last thing she said to me at five o'clock was: 'I love you Mom,' before she left out my door," said Ebony's mother Angela Sears.

Ebony Kitchen was gunned down on the 5800 block of Rising Sun Avenue Monday by a man who walked up to her and shot her point-blank in the head.

"What did I say about the state of emergency that we're in as Black people?" said Colwin Williams of Philadelphia Cure Violence.

Data shows arrests for homicides have not increased as much as the crime. According to data from the city police department and the district attorney's office, homicide victims have increased by 40% from last year, but arrests for homicides have increased by only 3%.

Williams calls it a different kind of pandemic affecting the city.

"We got a virus going on in the community. We have our own pandemic. Close to 500 people murdered? We haven't had these numbers since 1990," Williams added.

Williams and others across the city are calling on city leaders to do something.

"We need the councilwomen, the councilmen that represent the areas and districts where all these murders are coming from, we need for them to come together," said Williams.

As the family of Ebony Kitchen prepares for her funeral, her mother wants her to be remembered as the bright spirit that she was and a lovely person to have known.

The city is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer.
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