Gov. Tom Wolf joined state and local leaders in West Philadelphia on Friday as they announced increased collaboration among their offices to address the surging gun violence in the city.
Organized by state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, a Democrat whose district includes the corner of 52nd and Chestnut Streets that served as the venue, the meeting was also attended by Mayor Jim Kenney, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and members of the state legislature.
Williams said that for too long, elected officials have operated in silos, bringing few answers as homicides increased to a 30-year high in 2020.
“I told the governor that the state can no longer send prayers and money but that this community requires our presence,” Williams said. “Not downtown, not in City Hall, but here.”
Wolf, responding to Williams, said the state is committed to addressing the root causes of gun violence, including inequalities among different communities for education, food, and housing.
Shapiro, referencing recent, high-profile arrests in gang conflicts in South Philadelphia, said law enforcement cannot be the only solution to the issue.
“I refuse to accept this as the new normal,” Shapiro said, referring to the shooting Thursday that wounded 6-year-old Kodi Butts and killed his father, Joshua.
None detailed new programs or funding to attack the issue. But Williams, Kenney, and the other elected officials pledged to continue collaborative conversations, ones that Williams said will be aimed at creating substantive change, instead of simply listening to the complaints of residents.
And, in that vein, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, a Democrat whose district stretches from West Philadelphia into Delaware County, said their “marching orders” were clear.
“The amount of coordinated effort given to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic must be given to addressing the pandemic that is gun violence,” she said.