March Against Gun Violence – SW Community at “Rock Bottom”

City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (center, with bull horn) leads a walk down Southwest streets with disconsolate community members, many of them former West Africans, after the Fathers’ Day shootings.   Between Councilman Johnson and 12th Police District Captain Scott Drissel is Pastor and activist Paul “Earthquake” Moore.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (center, with bull horn) leads a walk down Southwest streets with disconsolate community members, many of them former West Africans, after the Fathers’ Day shootings. Between Councilman Johnson and 12th Police District Captain Scott Drissel is Pastor and activist Paul “Earthquake” Moore.

Dozens of people turned out for an anti-gun violence walk led by City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson on Fathers’ Day weekend.  “We made national news for the wrong reason,” said the councilman, referring to a 48-hour stretch in which 29 people were shot, including six at a graduation party near Finnigan’s Playground on Regent Street. Johnson called that incident “rock bottom,” according to an Inquirer article by Chris Palmer and Mensah M. Dean, Updated: June 17.

Additionally, Councilman Johnson organized a meeting in the Council chambers that included Police Commissioner Richard Ross, District Attorney Larry Krasner, and Deputy Managing Director Vanessa Garrett Harley.  As of this week, the Police Department noted that more than 660 people had been shot in Philadelphia so far this year, up 7 percent from last year. Among these were 160 gun murders, up 10 percent from 2018, year to date. 

Mayor Kenney noted that most of the Fathers’ Day shootings occurred outside the high-crime areas in which the “Operation Pinpoint” program had been instituted.  Earlier this year, 12th Police District Captain Drissel had indicated that this program had been in introduced in Southwest. Commissioner Ross advised that in those areas shootings were down 20 percent – whereas city-wide, they were on the increase.  

From a news standpoint, of course, the shooting spree story quickly lost intensity as the city reeled from the headlines about the 72 police officers who had been taken off street duty due to alleged racial remarks on their Facebook accounts. 

Councilman Johnson got his start in government by spearheading the “Peace Not Guns” campaign in South Philly decades ago.  In another Inquirer article, he questioned whether the removal of that many “street cops” would make it more difficult to investigate other crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. 

Information and the photo for this article were kindly provided by Chris Sample, Kaitlyn Manasterski and  Michele A. DiPietro of Councilman Johnson’s office.

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