Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issues statement on 'happy when I'm not mayor' comment

Kenney said the comment came "In a late-night, overwhelming moment of frustration."

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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement Tuesday following controversial comments he made after a shooting during the July 4th celebration in the city in which two police o

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement Tuesday following controversial comments he made after a shooting during the July 4th celebration in the city in which two police officers were injured.

During an overnight news conference, Kenney decried the ongoing gun violence in the city, saying "I'm concerned every single day. There's not an event or a day where I don't lay on my back at night look at the ceiling and worry about stuff."

But the mayor raised eybrows when he continued, "So everything we have had in the city over the last seven years, I worry about. I don't enjoy the Fourth of July. I didn't enjoy the Democratic National Convention. I didn't enjoy the NFL Draft.

"I'm waiting for something bad to happen all the time. I'll be happy when I'm not mayor and I can enjoy some stuff," Kenney said.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Kenney said he wanted to clarify those comments.

"In a late-night, overwhelming moment of frustration, I said I was looking forward to no longer being mayor. Let me be clear, I'm incredibly grateful to be mayor of this great city and for the people who elected me to lead," Kenney said.

Kenney said he wanted to be mayor to help "every Philadelphian reach their potential."

"I care deeply about the safety of our residents and the future of our city, and that's why I'm disappointed with how I conveyed my sentiments last night. I made Philadelphians feel like I don't care, and that cannot be further from the truth," he said.

At around the same time his statement was released, members of Philadelphia City Council held a news conference on the gun violence in the city and the July 4th shooting.

Council President Darrell Clarke said he did not want to dwell on the mayor's comments.

"I will acknowledge the level of controversy swirling around the 2nd floor, the mayor, with respect to his statements. We're not here for that," Clarke said, adding council was committed to making sure people in the city "have the quality of life that they should."

However, Councilmember Cherelle Parker was far more pointed in her criticism.

"I do want to state for the record that I think the mayor's comments were asinine," Parker said. "I told him that 'if you can feel this way, imagine how Philadelphians who don't have the ability to check out feel on a daily basis,'" she said.

The injured officers were released from the hospital early Tuesday morning after suffering graze wounds.

The gunfire erupted near 2400 Spring Garden Street as the fireworks show lit up the area above the Art Museum around 9:45 p.m.

Revelers were left scrambling, unsure of what was happening in the chaos.

"We have to come to grips with what this country is about right now. We had a beautiful day out there today except for some nitwit either shooting from a window or shooting from somewhere who has a gun who probably shouldn't have had it," Kenney said during an early morning press conference.

Kenney spoke of his visit to Canada two weeks ago. While there, he said, he never thought about gun violence.

"The only people I knew who had guns in Canada were police officers and that is the way it should be here. But look, in my lifetime, it is never going to happen. A lot of goofballs out there with guns and they can get them anytime they want, so this is what we have to live with," Kenney said.

The mayor and other city officials often point out that Pennsylvania's state constitution forbids Philadelphia from making its own gun laws.

The City of Philadelphia's website has an explanation that reads:

Philadelphia is unable to create restrictions on guns because of a state law that says "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth."

On Twitter, Kenney said, "We will continue to do everything we can to combat our city's gun violence-including taking a record number of guns off the streets-but we are fighting an uphill battle. We are pleading with lawmakers to help us stop the flow of guns into our city."

Kenney told reporters, "This is a gun country. It's crazy. We are the most armed country in world history and we are one of the least safe. So until Americans decide that they want to give up the guns and give up the opportunity to get guns we are going to have this problem."

RELATED: 'Like the running of the bulls': Witnesses describe scene on Parkway

Kenney still has 18 months left until his second term expires.

"Slap in the Face"

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw joined Mayor Kenney at the press conference to speak about the shooting.

The commissioner said the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the two officers remain unknown.

"We're all just extremely grateful that this wasn't worse than what it was," Outlaw said.

"There's a lot going on in the country. There's a lot going on in the world. Obviously, Philadelphia is no stranger to gun violence. Is it a slap in the face when those of us out here charged with protecting and serving and ensuring that those coming here from all over to celebrate the Fourth of July in a safe and efficient way - is it a slap in the face? Yeah, it is." Outlaw said. "But it doesn't stop us from doing what we're doing."

Outlaw said one of the injured officers said he'll be back and wants to work the event again next year.

The commissioner asked for anyone with video or information to contact police.

According to the latest statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there have been 2,108 shooting incidents this year. Up 6% from this time last year.

FULL STATEMENT FROM MAYOR KENNEY:

Today Mayor Jim Kenney provided updates on the July 4th shooting on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, including addressing his statements at the press conference last night."Last night's shooting was a truly horrific moment for our city. I'm deeply grateful that the two injured officers were not gravely injured and have been treated and released from the hospital. I'm praying for a full and speedy recovery for both of them."I'd like to thank the Philadelphia Police Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and our other public safety partners for their rapid response to ensure the safety of all the event's guests. They were able to evacuate and clear the Parkway quickly and ensure that everyone got home safely."This is a deeply traumatizing incident for our city. No one wants to feel unsafe when they are out in public attending a celebratory event. I was down on the Parkway, as I am every year, and witnessed families enjoying what was supposed to be a great family event. Those responsible for last night's incident should be very ashamed of their actions."Unfortunately, as we've seen across the nation and right here in Philadelphia, gun violence is all too prevalent in our communities, and the common thread through so much of this violence is the proliferation of guns. Our administration along with our public safety partners will continue to do everything we can to combat our city's rising gun violence-including taking a record number of guns off the streets-but we are fighting an uphill battle, and we are pleading with lawmakers to help us stop the flow of guns into our city."I'd also like to clarify some of the comments I made at the press briefing last night at Jefferson Hospital. In a late-night, overwhelming moment of frustration, I said I was looking forward to no longer being mayor. Let me be clear, I'm incredibly grateful to be mayor of this great city and for the people who elected me to lead."Cities and city leaders across the country have felt the impacts of the pandemic and the escalating gun violence epidemic for years now. There has been so much tragedy in this country of late, and many of us are dealing with the trauma and our feelings of frustration, anger, and deep sadness about the issues plaguing our society. I ran for Mayor with the goal of helping every Philadelphian reach their potential. As mayor, I feel personally responsible for the well-being of every Philadelphian, and it's a weight I carry with me every day-every waking moment. And I know that far too many residents worry daily about their safety and their loved ones too."I care deeply about the safety of our residents and the future of our city, and that's why I'm disappointed with how I conveyed my sentiments last night. I made Philadelphians feel like I don't care, and that cannot be further from the truth. I've said it many times before, I lay awake at night thinking about the challenges facing the residents in our city and what more we can be doing or doing differently to solve them. Being mayor comes with a lot of restless nights, so I am looking forward to a good night's sleep."Our residents deserve to feel safe in their city, and our traditions cannot and will not be ruined by the scourge of gun violence. I love this city, and as Mayor there's nothing more I want than to help solve this problem and keep our residents and visitors safe."Residents can find information and resources related to this incident here.