Philadelphia City Council unveils gun violence prevention agenda to tackle growing epidemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- They are the scenes that are playing out nightly in Philadelphia: stunned neighbors on steps behind a backdrop of police lights and crime tape after yet another shooting.

And while not always visible, more often than not there's a grieving family that's been destroyed by the gun violence that shows no signs of slowing down.

So, what is the solution?

"Man, that's a heavy question. I think the solution is going to be on everybody," said Culture Changing Christians Pastor Carl Day.

Day has had a front seat to the escalating violence.

He spends many nights on city streets talking to teens and young adults trying to stop the violence before it even starts.

"If we don't do it, who else will?" asked Day.

Since April 11, the city has seen a 36% increase in murders over last year.

Fifty shooting victims have been minors. That's a 40% increase over what was seen in 2020.

On Tuesday, Day stood alongside other advocates as city leaders detailed their approach to aid in the fight.

"Make no mistake about it, gun violence is Philadelphia's public enemy number one," said council member Cherelle Parker.

Their plan is called the "Violence Prevention and Opportunity Agenda."

It is a menu of options, including a $400 million initiative centered around job creation and community outreach.

The announcement was made at non-profit NOMO - which stands for New Options, More Opportunities - in North Philadelphia, which has been doing a lot of this work already.

All this as the council and the mayor start budget discussions for the next year.

"It is no more important issue than we are facing here in the city of Philadelphia today, than saving our youth," said council member Kenyatta Johnson.

For those already on the ground, like Pastor Day, it's also a matter of not losing hope.

"We gotta get out here and really actively engage people, let them know that we love them, let them know that we care with no agenda at hand, but just to really help save lives," said Day.

Council members say much of their discussions will be centered on who gets cash for programs and following up to see it's actually making a difference.

In a statement to Action News, a spokesperson for Mayor Kenney said "The Administration is still reviewing Council's proposal and looks forward to identifying ways we can work together, along with the community, to reduce violence. Preventing violence and saving lives remains our top priority, and tomorrow we will release an update to the Philadelphia Roadmap for Safer Communities, the City's violence reduction strategy. On Thursday, Mayor Kenney will also present the Fiscal Year 22 Budget and Five Year Plan to City Council which will also include how we plan to invest in the Roadmap."
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