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Philly students talk about ending gun violence

  • Scott LaMar
Broken car window with cracked glass pattern and a bullet hole in the middle.

Broken car window with cracked glass pattern and a bullet hole in the middle.

Airdate: August 12, 2022

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More than 300 people have been shot to death in Philadelphia in 2022. Close to 500 were killed in shootings last year. The numbers are rising too.

A group of young people and students from Philadelphia descended on the state capitol this week, demanding action on gun violence in Pennsylvania.

Two of them appeared on Friday’s Smart Talk.

Both Danay McNeill and Emely Seda have been touched by gun violence.

Danay had a family member who was shot and wounded last summer,”My brother was shot as he was leaving summer school. He was basically riding in a car and in the car there were four guys. Two of the guys were shot and they unfortunately passed away. My brother was shot, but he survived. He was hit in the shoulder and I actually didn’t find out about it. I only noticed because my parents weren’t home for a couple hours and usually they would be since they work from home. And so I called my mom and then she just told me that my brother was in the hospital and that he was shot. And I didn’t really know what to do myself in that moment. I just remember feeling like overwhelmed and scared because I didn’t really know what would the outcome would be.”

Danay told us this wasn’t the first time she had experienced gun violence,”The earliest I remember something happening was when I was in pre-K in the window of my daycare was shot through. I really just remember we were hiding under the table. And me, personally, I know. I just couldn’t stop crying. I just kept crying. No one could really calm me down. The only time I stopped crying was I called my mom and hear her voice over the phone.”

Emely said someone pulled a gun during a fight outside her Philadelphia school — something that had an impact on her,”All I saw was just the big group of kids running away, not looking where they’re going, but running in front of the cars. After that, I was really scared to go to school because I didn’t know if it would happen again…every time I went to school, I was more alert because I didn’t want to get caught in someone’s cross-fire.”

Emely talked about what she is looking for from lawmakers,”Asking for more money to be given to grassroots organizations. I was also asking for there to be more support for community planning and implementation of community safety plans that include prevention and intervention. And I also wanted to reduce the easy access to dangerous weapons. You shouldn’t be able to buy a gun online.”

Hillary Do, Executive Director of the grassroots organization, PhillyBOLT said resources are needed to stop the violence,”We need to look at what has been working and continuing to invest in it. Dozens of studies have shown that investing in quality of life factors so housing, community, green spaces after school programs significantly reduce gun violence. There was a study done by the University of Pennsylvania last year showing that neighborhoods, blocks that got access to Philadelphia’s city, government’s basic systems home repair funding saw something like a 21% reduction in crime on those blocks. So there are things that can be done more broadly to address this issue. And I think it’s also a fundamental question of what do we want to see in our world? And what we want to see are thriving neighborhoods, people being able to live a good life and having access to those resources.”

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