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State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, with the district attorney and other advocates, speaks at a press conference to address the growing gun violence issue in Philadelphia. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News
State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, with the district attorney and other advocates, speaks at a press conference to address the growing gun violence issue in Philadelphia. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell calls for comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy in Philadelphia

The House of Representatives also conducted a bi-partisan policy hearing on gun violence as a public health crisis.

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Pennsylvania State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell of the 190th district wants the city to do something to address the gun violence that is plaguing Philadelphia.

On July 23, she announced that city officials came together for a meeting earlier this month to work on unveiling a gun violence prevention strategy here in Philadelphia.

“We’re here because we’re tired of the bloodshed in Philadelphia,” Johnson-Harrell said during a press conference. 

She noted that the city is looking to work with David Kennedy, a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College in New York City. His work helped create “Operation Ceasefire,” a problem-solving police initiative that was implemented in Boston in 1996 to reduce gun violence, illegal gun possession, and gang violence.

The city’s strategy will build upon the focused deterrence strategy that was previously used in Philadelphia in 2013. 

“The strategy was very, very successful in reducing gun violence and while it’s had its criticisms, we have had an opportunity to look at the criticisms, to revise the model, and to make sure that it is not an over-policing model, but it is in fact a criminal justice reform, social justice model,” said Johnson-Harrell.

The goal is to provide resources, therapy, jobs, training and education, as well as identify those who are committing gun violence in the city and help them put down the guns to create safe communities.

The District Attorney’s Office is also in on the city implementing a gun violence prevention strategy.

“We are in for a gun violence strategy that will... be strongly supplemented by things that provide pathways for the people most likely to be shot or to be shooting to get out of that life for the benefit of the entire city,” District Attorney Larry Krasner, said.

The gun violence is even taking place in what should be the safer places in the city.

State Rep. Morgan Cephas of the 192nd District, denoted the seven people who were wounded in a shooting in a city playground in the Overbrook neighborhood on July 13 as a major issue. 

“That doesn’t only impact the shooter and the victims, but it impacts an entire community and an entire neighborhood,” she said.

Shootings such as this one could result in discontinuing block parties, shutting down recreation centers, and people being afraid to step foot outside their doors.

“This is not a city, as great as Philadelphia, to have people be scared to interact in open spaces because of the gun violence that’s happening across the city,’ Cephas added.

The pilot project will be targeted in West Philadelphia. 

“We need to meet people at the level of their needs, we need to reduce barriers to success, and we need to get the illegal guns off of the streets,” said Johnson-Harrell. 

“Right now, this is a human crisis.”

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