A mass shooting in broad daylight illustrates level of gun violence in Philadelphia

As of Saturday night in Philadelphia, we were at 476 murders for the year, most of them with guns. But many who are shot don’t die, as evidenced by the more than 3,500 shooting incidents we’ve had in the city this year.

One of the latest happened Sunday afternoon in West Kensington. At Lehigh Avenue and Howard Street, in broad daylight, three men and three women were shot, leaving at least one of them in critical condition.

Police made no arrests, and I’m not surprised by any of it, because that neighborhood has been allowed to become home to drugs and chaos.

Three years ago, around this time, I went to Kensington to see a drug camp just five blocks from where yesterday’s shooting took place. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time.

On Emerald Street [there’s] a tent city under a bridge in the heart of North Philadelphia. In the … shadows beneath that bridge, drug addicts have created a house of horrors that a community is forced to witness. They shoot up brazenly, have sex publicly, and die slow deaths at the end of a needle. That’s if they don’t overdose first. Dealers occupy nearby corners. Police ride by and look the other way. All of us die just a little bit faster because that’s what our city has become.

I shot a video of what I saw there that day, and though city workers eventually cleared out the underpass, we haven’t cleared out the poverty, or the hopelessness, or the ruin. And that’s why, three years later, just half a mile from the former tent city, six people were shot in broad daylight.

The gun violence in Philadelphia doesn’t just happen. It’s been allowed to grow during years of neglect. And if we’re going to fix it, we must acknowledge that truth, and then we must do all we can to save lives.

Photo: Crime Scene Do Not Cross By. Tex Texin

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