Activists call for National Guard to come to Philadelphia amid shootings
PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) — A day after five shootings claimed the lives of two men and injured seven people, the founder of two anticrime community organizations called on Philadelphia officials to request that the National Guard be dispatched to the city.
"When they needed to protect buildings they brought in the National Guard. So now it's not OK to bring in the Guard to protect people?" Stanley Crawford, cofounder of the Families of Unsolved Murder Victims Project and the Black Male Community Council, said Tuesday.
"Bring them in and use them strategically. They have the data and the statistics to know where the violence is occurring. Put the National Guard there," said Crawford, 69, whose son William was murdered in 2018. "It doesn't have to be for a long period of time. Just until you stabilize the murders and shootings."
Jamal Johnson, who went on a 26-day hunger strike earlier this year to protest gun violence and started a march to Washington on Aug. 9 to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and to lobby for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, said he called for the Guard to be brought in last year.
"I'm glad he said it, even if people don't want to hear it," Johnson said of Crawford.
"It's an action. Something is being done, as opposed to a bunch of talk, and we do need action. And when people say, 'You want to bring in the man,' I have one question for them: Are you ready for somebody in your family to die?" said Johnson, 64, whose small group is scheduled to arrive in D.C. on Aug. 27.
A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney said there are no plans to request help from the National Guard, but he remains open to community input on other ways to reduce violence.
"This is a very complex issue," said Deana Gamble, Kenney's spokesperson. "Some may want additional law enforcement presence for added security, but we also learned last year during the height of social activism and unrest following the murder of George Floyd that others are traumatized by over-policing and military presence in our neighborhoods."
Kenney last month angered some City Council members and community activists by declining to declare a state of emergency in response to gun violence, which has the annual homicide rate on pace to exceed the all-time high of 500 murders set in 1990. Kenney said the declaration would do nothing to stop the violence.
As of Tuesday morning, 339 people had been murdered in the city this year, a 25% increase from the 271 people killed this time last year, according to the Police Department.
The extent of the city's violence surge, and the brazenness of the gunmen behind it, was on shocking display at 7:13 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of the ShopRite supermarket in the 100 block of Olney Avenue. An 18-year-old man later identified as Khyrie Isaac and a 19-year-old woman were ambushed by three gunmen who wore black masks over their faces as they pumped bullets into the 2021 BMW X1 SUV as the victims sat inside, police said.
Isaac was hit by 10 to 12 bullets, while his passenger was shot in her left cheek, left arm, and chest, police said. Both were rushed to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where Isaac was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. and his passenger was listed in critical condition.
Isaac and his companion had been sitting in the parked BMW when a white sedan parked next to it and the three gunmen emerged and discharged their firearms into the victims' vehicle, police said.
A man described by bystanders as Isaac's father showed up after the shooting and scuffled with police officers who tried to move him away from the bullet-riddled car.
Isaac's friends later took to social media to offer prayers to his family. Pictures and video clips posted online showed Isaacs in a football uniform for Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, which closed in June.
Crawford said his granddaughter was a friend of Isaac's, and his death left her inconsolable Monday night. "An 18-year-old getting killed. No matter what the cause was, they didn't have the right to kill him," Crawford said.
"Until those individuals in charge of this city know how it feels like to have to check on your granddaughter who's wailing all night, they will not understand," Crawford said. "I couldn't sleep last night and I don't know how these city officials can sleep."
Monday's second homicide victim was one of three men shot while standing on the corner of 57th Street and Elmwood Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia just after 10 p.m., police said.
For unknown reasons, a man with a gun approached the group and opened fire, shooting Harold Haughton, 51, multiple times, striking a 38-year-old man in the leg, and grazing a 34-year-old man in the left thigh.
Police transported Haughton and the 34-year-old to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where Haughton was pronounced dead and the other man was in stable condition.
The man who suffered a graze wound was driven in a private vehicle to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, police said.
The gunman remained at large Tuesday.
There were three other shootings Monday, leaving four more people injured.
In one of those, police are investigating the shootings of 17-year-old twin brothers at 11:16 p.m. Monday inside a unit at the Raymond Rosen Apartments.
One brother was shot twice in the right shoulder and once in the right thigh, while the other was shot once in the left ankle and once in the right thigh. Both were transported by medics to Temple University Hospital, where they were in stable condition, police said.
Those shootings also remain unsolved, they said.
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