This week, a political canvasser in Philadelphia shot and killed a fellow canvasser on the job, over what police described as a long-standing “beef.” The shooting symbolized the high stakes of the city’s Democratic mayoral primary next week: The winner, who almost certainly will go on to become mayor, will have to contend with a city that’s surpassed 500 homicides — the vast majority of which were committed with guns — over the past two years in a row, as well as a rising number of shootings among young people.
It’s a historic race, in more than one way. This is Philly’s 100th mayoral election, and the most expensive one in city history. More City Council members have stepped down from their positions to run for mayor than ever before. It’s also a crowded field that, despite months of campaigning, still has no clear front-runners: A public poll by the Committee of Seventy released late last month found a statistical tie between five of the eight candidates on the ballot: former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart; former City Council members Cherelle Parker, Helen Gym, and Allan Domb; and grocery store magnate Jeff Brown.
The outcome of Tuesday’s primary — in a solidly blue city without a runoff system, the candidate who wins almost certainly will prevail in November’s general election — will have huge implications for Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis, which has been the primary issue of the race. Parker has campaigned on a classic “tough on crime” platform, calling for more police on the streets and what she characterized in one debate as “constitutional” stop-and-frisk. Brown also wants to increase funding for law enforcement, and earned the endorsement of the city’s police union. Domb, meanwhile, has advocated creating a task force of local, state, and federal agencies to crack down on crime. In addition, Brown and Domb have said they want to invest in violence intervention programs.
Rhynhart and Gym also want funding for prevention and intervention programs. Rhynhart has focused on programs that have shown success in other cities; she’s also said she’d make it easier for police to make disorderly conduct arrests, while increasing access to diversion programs. Rhynhart also wants the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute more illegal gun possession cases. Gym, who’s backed by Philly progressive groups, is perhaps the highest-profile candidate in the race: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders both endorsed her, and she’s been the subject of glowing profiles in national news outlets. Gym’s public safety plan calls for more social services and guaranteed employment for people under age 30, though she’s received criticism for not specifying how she would find the money to pay for it. Her platform is less focused on law-and-order measures, looking instead toward improving emergency response times and support for survivors of violence.
For some violence prevention advocates, the outcome of the election matters less than what the winner does afterward. “Gun violence is the end result of generations of trauma, and we need a mayor who understands that and will put in resources to prevent it,” Reuben Jones, executive director of the mentoring program Frontline Dads, told The Philadelphia Inquirer in January. “I’m just hoping and praying that the next mayor has the gumption to lead. Then we can make some headway.”
From Our Team
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What to Know This Week
An internal investigation into a New York Police Department officer’s killing of a man who had locked himself out of his apartment found “no wrongdoing.” The NYPD offered no explanation for its reasoning — but new records show that investigators never asked the responding officers key questions, even when video evidence contradicted their accounts. [ProPublica]
A case on the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” — emergency or expedited matters that are often decided without a full briefing or oral argument — could result in the legalization of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines across the country. [Vox]
A bill to raise the minimum age to purchase some assault rifles in Texas from 18 to 21 was left off the state House’s legislative calendar — and a last-ditch attempt by Democrats to force a vote on the measure failed before a key deadline. The legislation, championed by families of Robb Elementary School massacre victims, was advanced out of committee in a surprise vote earlier this week. Meanwhile, gun deaths have continued to rise in Texas, reaching their highest levels since the mid-1990s. [CBS Texas/The Texas Tribune]
Minnesota lawmakers added language to a public safety bill that would expand background checks for gun transfers between private parties and allow police to temporarily disarm people believed to be a risk to themselves or others. As the legislative session heads to a close, it’s not immediately clear if the measures will pass into law. [MPR]
Alex Jones owes Sandy Hook plaintiff Erica Lafferty around $100 million — but neither she nor any of the plaintiffs have seen a dime yet. Now, as Lafferty wages an expensive battle against cancer, she’s been forced to crowdfund money for her treatment. [VICE]
School districts nationwide are spending millions on gun detection technology powered by artificial intelligence. But many vendors market misleading and ineffective products with little to no track record that they work. [The Intercept]
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee made good on his promise to call a special session on gun safety legislation: The General Assembly will convene on the matter in August. Before the session ended last month, Lee called for the Legislature to pass an extreme risk protection order law. [The Tennessean]
Chicago’s gunshot detection system, ShotSpotter, quickly sent out an alert about the shootout that left an off-duty cop fatally wounded last weekend. So why did it take over half an hour for police to find her? [Chicago Sun-Times]
The seditious conspiracy convictions for members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are historic. But are they distracting America from a deeper extremism threat? [Slate]
The people who were killed in the mass shooting in Allen, Texas, were identified earlier this week. Here’s who they were. These remembrances are sourced from CBS, KERA, The Texas Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, NBCDFW, WFAA, the San Antonio Express-News, NBC, and CNN.
Daniela Mendoza, 11, and Sofia Mendoza, 8, both loved the color yellow — a fitting color for the sisters, who were “rays of sunshine,” their elementary school principal said. Sofia, a self-described “sassy” second-grader, had been rehearsing for the lead role in a school play; Daniela, a fourth-grader, was once named Most Likely to Become a Teacher. Aishwarya Thatikonda, 26, originally from India, wanted to buy a house in North Texas and raise kids. Her boss, who eventually wanted to make her CEO of his company, called her “one of the most ethical, most responsible persons I have seen in my business in this country.”
Kyu Cho, 37, was a lawyer with a passion for immigration cases. He was also an elite martial artist and “an absolutely stoic” taekwondo instructor, a caring mentor wise beyond his years. His wife, Cindy Cho, 35, was “one of the nicest people you’d have ever met,” a former dentistry school classmate said — a “kind and caring student,” the dean of her dentistry school said, “always doing the best to help improve the health and lives of her patients.” Their son James Cho, 3, was “super smart for his age,” an instructor at his early education center said, a “mini-teacher” who liked to be the center of attention. The couple’s other child, William, 6, was wounded in the shooting, but survived.
Christian LaCour, 20, was working as a security guard at the mall. He was killed while trying to help others evacuate the area. When he walked into a store, a mall employee said, “everyone in the room would light up because he was there.” Elio Cumana-Rivas, 32, “always smiled,” his brother said, “always lived with a positive word.” He adored his mother, and worked hard to support his parents in Venezuela. He’d left home, moving first to Panama and then the U.S., with the goal of finding “a place where he could grow and help his loved ones.”
Amor Eterno: “When 19 children and 2 teachers are killed in a town of more than 15,000, the math works like this: You either loved one of the victims or you know someone who loved one of the victims — you know an aunt, a cousin, a close family friend. You know someone who tucked them into bed the night before, who argued with them about brushing their teeth, who told them to keep it down, who read them a story or maybe a poem and said goodnight, and then good morning, and then goodbye.” [Texas Monthly]
“They have to be held accountable. Stop making promises that are not kept.”
— Pete Kane, a photojournalist from North Philadelphia who has lost loved ones to gun violence, on wanting the next mayor to follow through on campaign promises, to CBS Philadelphia