By Alecia Reid

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The murder rate was extremely high in Philadelphia in 2020. The number of homicides is on track to break a grim record by New Year’s Eve.

There’s been a 40% increase in homicides from last year alone, and now the city is close to officially breaking the record of 500 homicides set back in 1990.

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Illegal guns continue to wreak havoc on the streets of Philadelphia.

“It’s never right to bury your children but this is the reality for too many families,” said Michelle Kerr Spry with Mothers in Charge.

More than 2,000 people were shot in the city this year — an alarming number of them were women and children. The majority, however, were young black men and boys.

“We’ve been doing this for 17 years and this year has been one of the worst years,” said Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight with Mothers in Charge.

Mothers in Charge continues to work with families affected by gun violence.

“It’s not healthy right now. It’s not healthy for any of us. So how do we get folks involved that can make a difference? That’s who we need to reach out to now,” Johnson-Speight said.

As families learn to navigate a world they never imagined, Spry says there needs to be an effort from all fronts.

“More programs to address their hurt, anger, and sense of not feeling safe,” she said.

Mayor Jim Kenney says no one should live that way.

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In a statement he says, “We are determined to save lives and create peace. We will turn the page on this dark chapter in the history of our city, and we will write the new book together. I vow to be with Philadelphians every step of the way as we take on this challenge.”

Councilman and chairman of the City Council Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention Kenyatta Johnson plans to meet with the mayor in the new year to look at a comprehensive strategy.

“We have to re-examine these strategies and figure out what’s not working and also look at what’s working, and invest in those areas that are working,” Johnson said.

Different organizations across the city are working towards the same goal.

Tomorrow at noon, Mothers in Charge will be holding a virtual prayer for peace, and for all the families that have been impacted by gun violence.

To connect to the prayer, click here. 


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