Philadelphia mayor rejects calls to bring in National Guard to address crime wave: 'Not respectful'

Stanley Crawford, whose son was murdered in 2018, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the National Guard should be called in to Philadelphia to stem the surging crime. 

“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,” Crawford, who cofounded the Families of Unsolved Murder Victims Project and the Black Male Community Council, told the local newspaper this week. “It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. Just until you stabilize the murders and shootings.”

Mayor Jim Kenney flatly rejected the idea of bringing the National Guard into Philadelphia on Wednesday, saying that he doesn’t think it would be an “effective tool to bring in uniformed, camouflaged, gun- rifle-carrying people in helmets to address this problem.”

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“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,” Mayor Kenney said Wednesday during a press conference on the city’s gun violence response. 

“But to send in 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.”

A 16-year-old died after being shot 13 times at this scene in Philadelphia in June. 

A 16-year-old died after being shot 13 times at this scene in Philadelphia in June.  (Fox 29 Philadelphia )

Through eight months of 2021, Philadelphia has seen 2,525 shooting incidents that have left 1,449 people injured. 340 people have been murdered in the city, which is more than were killed in the entirety of 2017, when 315 people were killed. 

Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said in an analysis released Thursday that the city has allocated $ 155 million for anti-violence initiatives in the budget, about $ 33 million of which will address gun violence. 

Other activists echoed Crawford’s call for more immediate action to stem the violence. 

“I’m glad he said it, even if people don’t want to hear it,” Jamal Johnson, who went on a nearly month-long hunger strike this year to protest gun violence, told the Philadelphia Inquirer of Crawford’s call to bring in the National Guard. “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?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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