After the Eagles won the Super Bowl, much of the city was in a celebratory mood. But some people were not. Count among that second group the relatives and loved ones of the six people reportedly shot — and one killed — over the course of that very night.
Gun violence and related deaths are an unfortunate constant in Philadelphia, no matter what other victories the city celebrates.
Though it dipped slightly in the middle of the decade, Philly’s homicide rate has ticked back up. Last year saw 317 victims, compared to 277 the year prior. As of Feb. 5, the Philadelphia Police Department had recorded 25 homicides.
Philly native Davida Garner is trying to raise awareness of the problem with a new organization — and its latest effort is a big public event set for this weekend.
On Saturday, Feb. 10, Erase the Rate will host a “Walk to End Homicide.”
Garner founded the group after losing her cousin to senseless gun violence. Daymond “Cash” Garner was killed last June, succumbing to multiple shots fired at close range while he was sitting inside their grandmother’s house.
While there are several campaigns and resources dedicated to reducing gun violence in the region, Erase the Rate takes a very local, grassroots approach. The goal, Garner said, is to address the issue by by elevating, empowering and enhancing the minority community.
The lack of police action or response she saw after her cousin was gunned down, she said, was unbelievable to her. But when speaking to other individuals with similar situations, they often appeared unbothered.
So at networking events she began going to, Garner began asking young people why they thought gun violence was so rampant in their communities.
“I asked them what do y’all feel is the reason that y’all are killing each other,” she told Billy Penn, “and they said, ‘someone disrespecting me.’”
Daymond’s case remains open; there has been no resolution as to what led to his killing. With the formation of Erase the Rate, Garner intends to help families are struggling with the same issue of unsolved homicide.
Saturday’s walk will try to bring people together behind the goal of education, and show resilience in the face of violence.
It begins at 11:30 a.m. at 66th and Broad Street, a location is significant to Garner, since that’s where her cousin was killed. The procession will finish at the city’s morgue, which Garner said symbolizes where everyone affected by gun violence goes to say farewell to their murdered kin.
“This is a common spot, unfortunately, for so many families in Philly,” Garner said. “To me, that’s the start of us uplifting each other, being there for each other.”
One plan for the future is to offer therapy to families and teens affected by the traumas of losing a loved one to gun violence. Though the organization is for every age, Garner wanted it to concentrate on the young adults in Philadelphia who are sometimes victims, and sometimes offenders.
“We need to teach these children how to cope with their emotions,” Garner said. “You know, a lot of inner city children, they’re strong. By them going through a lot at a younger age they don’t know how to show how they feel. It’s looked down upon to go to therapy, to go seek out help, so they keep that bottle up inside.”
Additionally, Garner would like to build a relationship with the Philadelphia Police, though she has not yet been able to set up a meeting. (She was told it might take a few months for police to get back to her, she said, since they receive so many calls.)
For now, she hopes the walk will raise the profile of Erase the Rate, making it and its goals more visible to both the Police Department and the community.