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What will it take for Philly to remember its murder victims? | Helen Ubiñas

A group of Philadelphians gathered on the Art Museum steps for National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

People gather at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an event honoring murder victims in Philadelphia.
People gather at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an event honoring murder victims in Philadelphia.Read moreHelen Ubinas

What's it going to take?

As I sit on the top of the Art Museum steps, a welcome breeze cuts through the day's heat while a small group wraps up an event marking National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

There were lots of familiar sights, oversized pictures of mostly young black men whose lives were cut short. T-shirts that bore photos of men and women, frozen in time. Loved ones in different stages of grief. Barbara May, whose 23-year-old son Amir was killed in July, collapsed in front of the photos of Philadelphia murder victims stacked on the steps.

So far this year, 222 people have been killed in Philadelphia.

And yet, from the size of the group here, you would never know there has been that much loss in this year alone.

Aleida Garcia, of the National Homicide Justice Alliance, said she was glad to see those who had come.

Families of the victims. Police officers, including Homicide Capt. John Ryan. People who have made fighting gun violence more of a calling than a job, including Scott Charles, Temple University Hospital's trauma outreach coordinator who has long provided gun locks, no questions asked.

They were all part of the puzzle of solving gun violence, Garcia said.

She was right. But there remained a huge part of the puzzle that was missing: The citizens of this city, the ones who, whether they realize it or not, are impacted by the gun violence that the city declared a public health epidemic just a couple of days ago.

As I write this, the sun has gone down and I can barely make out the group just steps away. But I can clearly hear them when they shout, "We remember!" — half declaration, half prayer that someone says will be carried across Philadelphia in the wind.

The people gathered here do remember. They have to.

But I wonder when the rest of Philadelphia will remember.