PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis shows no signs of stopping. There have been at least 314 homicides in the city so far in 2021. That is up 35% from this time last year, which was a near-record year.
Congressman Dwight Evans spoke about the urgent message he has for the president and Philadelphia’s mayor.
Evans says a declaration of emergency from Mayor Jim Kenney could send a signal that the issue is one of his administration’s top priorities.
“This is do or die. We must take this seriously,” Evans said.
In a letter to Kenney, Evans questioned the obstacles holding him back from declaring a gun violence emergency.
About a month ago, the mayor’s office announced increased financial support for violence prevention programs. Echoing local organizations, Evans inquired when those funds will be distributed, saying it will take a collective effort to curb gun violence.
“I want people to know that I’m not satisfied until we stop this,” he said.
The Department of Justice on Friday announced a task force that will be cracking down on the source of firearms trafficking in five key cities across the country.
That does not include Philadelphia, which now has the highest murder rate in the country.
In his letter, Evans brought it to the president’s attention.
“The five cities identified, fine, I won’t knock it. But representing Philadelphia, I wanted to raise that flag and say we should also have that task force here in the City of Philadelphia,” Evans said.
Evans says these non-stop shootings create a trickle-down effect.
“This problem can and will affect everybody. It affects economic opportunity, it affects educational opportunities, it affects healthcare. It affects all of it,” he said.
The mayor’s office says it shares the public’s urgency that these resources need to be deployed as soon as possible.