Thursday, November 1, 2007

An Absence of Love in Philadelphia

These days there is very little that is brotherly or loving in my home town of Philadelphia. And the recent shootings of three police officers in the city that calls itself "a city of neighborhoods" makes you wonder if Philadelphians will ever remember what it is like to be neighborly again.

The truth is simple. The police alone can't stop the violence, nor can the city officials or the federal government. The only answer to stopping the escalation of the violence in a community is for its residents to finally say enough is enough.

If anyone knows of someone who is in illegal possession of a gun, or is involved in criminal activity, they need to turn them in, asap. And anyone harboring a wanted felon needs to face severe punishment.

And finally, if you are a young man or woman who thinks that you have to carry a gun, needs a little money, likes gun fights, and thinks that you're big and bad enough to take a life, I refer you to:

I'm sure that there is a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan who understands that life is a gift and there is no glory in killing and who would gladly come home and let you take his/her place.

Your President would love to have you there and the peace loving citizens of Philadelphia will be glad to see you go.


Alarming trend: Nationally and locally, criminals aim at police
What is happening with guns in the City of Brotherly Love?

The cold-blooded shooting of a Philadelphia police officer Wednesday in East Oak Lane was the city's third shooting of a police officer in four days, part of a national trend in which criminals are demonstrating an increasing fearlessness of taking aim at law enforcement officers.

The assaults on police officers, coupled with Tuesday night's brazen shooting of three civilians and an officer in a crowded Center City district, seem to be a wake-up call that violence is not confined to the less-than-law-abiding in the city's impoverished quarters.

"There is a criminal element in this city and around the country that have completely lost any respect for authority," Mayor Street said outside the hospital where Officer Charles Cassidy had been taken after being shot in East Oak Lane, "and the proliferation of guns and weapons in this city and in cities around the country make this a very tough and challenging and difficult job for the Police Department."

In a sense, Street is right. Gun violence is a national problem - violent crime is up across the country, and fatal shootings of police officers are up 39 percent nationwide this year, to 61.

"There are more brazen criminals operating on the streets of our nation, criminals that are more cold-blooded in their nature, with less respect for human life and certainly for police authority," said Craig W. Floyd, chief executive of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, which tracks police deaths.

But violent crime is also a local problem, made worse by the timing of Tuesday night's shootings, during a nationally televised debate of Democratic presidential contenders at Drexel University, where the audience emerged to see Center City lit up by police helicopters and frogmen searching the Schuylkill for a suspect who shot three civilians and an officer.

"It's a disgrace, and it's a damn embarrassment," said Michael Nutter, who is nearly certain to win Tuesday's mayoral election. He has been critical of the Street administration's response to a four-year increase in violent crime.

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