With 400 homicides in Philadelphia, we must do all we can to make the murders stop

Philadelphia hit 400 homicides this weekend. We haven’t seen those kinds of numbers since 2006, and even then, it was at year’s end.

We are in the kind of homicide crisis that reminds me of the crack era, when drug dealers were slugging it out over territory and cash, and the lawlessness could at least be tied to a drug crisis.

But now things are different. People kill over social media beefs. And when the first shooting happens, a never-ending cycle of vengeance makes ending it next to impossible. Poor education and poverty leave people disillusioned. And those who used to be credible messengers are now considered ops—enemies—barriers to be moved aside.

Killing is not only normalized in the streets. It’s depicted as entertainment on Instagram, then it’s celebrated in the music that’s pumped into our childrens’ airpods.

And it’s not just Philly. According to NPR, Chicago could be headed toward its highest annual homicide count since 1996. And Atlanta’s murder rate on September 11th was up 64 percent from the same date in 2019.

We can’t solve this with old solutions. We have to work directly with the people who are in it. We have to care enough to be uncomfortable. And I know that because at ManUpPHL, we talk to the young men whose lives are at stake. We listen when they tell us their cousin was just shot, or their sibling was murdered. Or they’ve been shot themselves.

We’ll start again tonight with another group of young men. We’ll pay them stipends, give them mentors, provide them counseling and get them jobs. And then we’ll walk with them to help them change their lives.

If you know a young man who could benefit from that, call 267-748-7818. That’s 267-748-7818, and sign him up. Because we can’t afford to lose one more life to gun violence, and all of us must fight to make it stop.

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