Marine veteran ends 26-day hunger strike sparked by rising gun violence after meeting with Mayor Kenney

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Marine veteran from Philadelphia has ended his 26-day hunger strike to bring change to how the city is dealing with gun violence.

Sixty-three-year-old Jamal Johnson pledged to end his strike on Friday after meeting with Mayor Jim Kenney.

Starting on Jan. 18, Johnson faithfully was seen outside of the north side of City Hall by 1 p.m. every day and has even gone to the mayor's home. He called for Kenney to implement a resolution created by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier that would make the city treat gun violence as an emergency, including holding regular briefings.

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As Philadelphia's gun violence climbs at a record pace, a 63-year-old man is demanding change through a hunger strike.

Video posted to social media showed the meeting between the mayor and Johnson, which was facilitated by radio host Saj Blackwell.

"I want to pledge the work to do what we can to fulfill the resolution and to get this gun violence under control and to keep young people from being killed," Kenney said.

The mayor referenced a recent study by Temple University that showed a correlation between COVID-19 restrictions and a rise in gun violence. Kenney said seeing the numbers each day is heartbreaking.

Kenney said he appreciated Johnson's efforts.

"I want to see him get out of the cold, get inside, cause I'm worried about him and I don't want to see anything bad happen to him," Kenney said.

Johson released a statement saying, "This is the validation I was waiting for and the hunger strike is officially ended after 26 days."
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