Updated: Dec 29, 2021
There have been 535 homicides in the City of Philadelphia in 2021, a 13% increase from 2020, and the highest rate since 1960. Of those 535 victims, 41 were under the age of 18. The majority of these homicides are from gun violence and occur overwhelmingly in underserved communities of color. Many neighborhoods in Philadelphia that are predominantly low-income also suffer from higher crime rates than the rest of the city. This wave of homicides is historically unique in Philadelphia, as the other violent crime is—including rape and assaults committed without a gun, which was already at decades-long lows—have continued to decline since 2019, even as shootings and killings rose, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The impact of COVID-19 has been even more devastating to the communities affected by gun violence, as there was nearly a 100% increase in people shot per week in the city, from 25 people before lockdown measures were implemented to 46 people.
Impact on Temple University and its Surrounding Community
In the past month, Temple University and its surrounding community have been overwhelmed with gun violence. The deaths of Samuel Collington and Ahmir Jones in November were a shock and scare to everyone at Temple, igniting the community to implement measures to prevent gun violence on and around campus. These measures include increasing the on-demand evening shuttle services called FLIGHT, increasing Campus Safety, and implementing a walking escort service. Among other preventative acts. Each measure implemented by Temple may be helpful in the short term, but the discussion of gun violence in the greater Philadelphia community is far from over. The Temple University campus lies in the center of a low-income area that lacks the necessary resources to combat gun violence. Unfortunately, this is partially why gun violence is continuing to plague North Philadelphia and Temple’s residents.
Change in Philadelphia
In October, Philadelphia announced $2.2 million in grants for anti-gun violence programs at five community organizations. The first money awarded from a new $22 million program to help address the city’s gun violence crisis. The grants will go to organizations that provide housing assistance, mentorship programs, trauma counseling, job training, and youth music programs. A problem like gun violence cannot be fixed overnight, but this is a crucial step to curb it in Philadelphia. Additionally, establishing a solid foundation and support in underserved communities of color will give residents measures to abstain from violence in the first place. The same philosophy should apply to Temple community and neighborhood residents. Temple is only as strong as the will of its people. Putting in time, money, and effort into a problem of this caliber will not only strengthen the bond between students and locals but keep them safe, too.