Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney this week rejected calls from some in the city for him to ask the governor to send in the Pennsylvania National Guard to help with the ongoing gun violence crisis.
"The National Guard is not traditionally an urban police department," Kenney said in his regular press conference Wednesday. "We used the National Guard in the civil unrest period to secure areas that needed to be secured from looting and burning, and it freed up the police to do other things. But to send the National Guard and a troop carrier into a neighborhood in Philadelphia, to me, is not respectful to that neighborhood, number one.
"Number two, they are not capable or trained to do urban policing, or do policing of any kind," he continued. "They are to be a presence and secure facilities in times of civil unrest or in times of disasters. So we don’t think that would be an effective tool to bring in uniformed, camouflaged, rifle-carrying people in helmets to address this problem."
Activists and politicians in Philadelphia have previously issued a call for National Guard assistance as the city continues on pace to hit a record number of deaths from gun violence in one year.
"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, the cofounder of the Families of Unsolved Murder Victims Project and the Black Male Community Council, asked the The Philadelphia Inquirer on 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," added Crawford, who lost his son William in a 2018 shooting. "It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. Just until you stabilize the murders and shootings."
"This is a very complex issue," said a spokesperson for Kenney. "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."
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