Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson Holds “Peace Not Guns” Roundtable

 photo credit: Vincent Thompson, Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson's office
photo credit: Vincent Thompson, Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson's office

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Second District)  held an  in-person “Peace Not Guns” roundtable discussion with teenagers from throughout the city on July 19 at Philadelphia City Hall. The purpose of the gathering was to hear from them about how gun violence is impacting them and what solutions they may have to help keep Philadelphians safe. The event in the City Council Caucus Room had more than 100 people attend, a capacity crowd.  

“During the past few weeks, I have held public discussions with individuals and families impacted by gun violence, organizations whose job is to reduce gun violence in our city, and City of Philadelphia officials, who are responsible for implementing plans to reduce gun violence this summer and beyond, “Johnson said. ” It is important to hear from Philadelphia’s teenagers and give them an opportunity to speak on this very important issue. The meeting was an open conversation with the teenagers to hear from them what are some of the root causes of the shootings happening in Philadelphia and what are their solutions to solving the problem.

According to the Philadelphia City Controllers’ Office, there has been at least 784 nonfatal and 203 fatal shooting victims so far this year as of July 16. Eleven percent of all the non-fatal shooting victims have been younger than 18 years old and 47% of all non-fatal shooting victims are between the ages of 18-30. As of July 16, 7% of all of the fatal shooting victims have been younger than 18 years old and 48% of all fatal shooting victims are between the ages of 18-30. 

While the overwhelming majority of non-fatal and fatal shooting victims are male, the number of females being shot is also alarming. Fourteen percent of all of the non-fatal shootings and 10 percent of all of the fatal shooting victims so far this year have been females (as of July 16). 

Joshnson hosts these roundtable discussions on a regular basis so that Philadelphians most impacted by gun violence can be heard and come up with better ways that City and community leaders can work together. 

A growing number of antiviolence advocates and experts across the country believe that unaddressed, widespread trauma is at the root of the city’s gun crisis. Thousands of Philadelphians, especially young men, are living with pent-up pain and anger that are affecting their relationships and ability to process emotions, and escalating to acts of violence. 

He advocated for additional funding for youth programming as part of my  “Save Our Youth” Fiscal Year 2024 (FY ’24) budget proposal. 

In the FY ’24 Operating budget, which went into effect July 1, Johnson as able to secure $5 Million in additional funding to the Philadelphia Streets Department to support 200 additional positions in the Future Track Program to assist young adults in developing the skills and experience necessary for professional success. 

Johnson was also able to secure an additional $500,000 for PowerCorpsPHL, an AmeriCorps program that trains young people to work in the Green Economy and urban farming, and secure funding for the City Year Philadelphia Program to create more supportive school communities and develop civically engaged young adults. Securing funding for the Future Track Program, PowerCorpsPHL and City Year Philadelphia were all part of the Save Our Youth budget plan. 

He will continue to call for the City to invest more money into trauma-informed therapy for Philadelphians, especially youth, and to address gun violence as a public health issue. Johnson is also calling for a greater emphasis on tracking the flow of illegal guns coming into Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. 

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