For Philadelphia City Councilmember Curtis Jones, the recovery of 12-year-old Hezekiah Bernard’s body in a West Philadelphia trash can last month became the latest motivation to make a once-and-for-all plan to prevent gun violence in the city.
“If 300 whales washed up on the shore of the Schuylkill, every marine biologist — including Jacques Cousteau from the grave — would come out and ask why,” he said. “300 citizens of Philadelphia die every year and it isn’t elevated to the point that we need to study this more.”
Jones is gathering more than 100 community organizers, lawmakers, academics, and businesspeople for the first-ever Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia Crime Summit. St. Joseph’s University will host the event, and will use the discussions to produce a “white paper” to hand to the incoming mayor and police commissioner.
Jones says mayoral candidates Cherelle Parker and David Oh will both have staff onsite for the day. Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis will give the keynote. Estelle Richman with the Philadelphia Civic Coalition to Save Lives, a new group of philanthropy and business leaders that has been funding violence prevention efforts, will also be present. Former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode will share insights from Amachi, his nonprofit that focuses on incarcerated parents and their children.
Participants in the invitation-only event will be broken up into groups to discuss specific topics including public education, policing technology, and criminal justice.