A pedestrian walks past bullet holes in the window of a store front on South Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 5, 2022. (Photo by KRISTON JAE BETHEL/AFP via Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks past bullet holes in the window of a store front on South Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 5, 2022. (Photo by KRISTON JAE BETHEL/AFP via Getty Images)

“The current plague of gun violence is a result of a lack of good economic opportunity in our communities, a pervasive sense of hopelessness, and – most importantly – a failure of leadership at every level,” writes Ryan N. Boyer, the Business Manager for the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I love this city. But something is terribly wrong here.

I almost avoid watching the news on Monday mornings because I can’t stand to watch what has become the growing list of fatalities from the previous weekend.  Almost every day, we’re confronted by reports of more people gunned down in our streets. My family and I have personally lost loved ones because of gun violence, and I can tell you experiencing that kind of senseless loss changes you forever.  Death never makes sense, but it’s even worse when it’s entirely preventable.

The current plague of gun violence is a result of a lack of good economic opportunity in our communities, a pervasive sense of hopelessness, and—most importantly—a failure of leadership at every level.

Philadelphians, Black and Brown people—particularly young people—are dying in our streets every day. I’m a graduate of Roxborough High School. I played football on the same field by where 14-year-old Nicolas Elizalde was senselessly killed.

We shouldn’t be afraid whenever our kids walk out of the house. But the reality is that, in this city and at this moment, our families aren’t safe. Something’s got to change, and I believe it’s our leadership. District Attorney Larry Krasner is unable to work with law enforcement and has fostered an adversarial relationship at a time when it’s most important for all elements of the city’s establishment to be working together. The partisan impeachment effort is a shameless attempt at a power grab, but there is certainly room for criticism of our DA’s office. Our Mayor and City Council have largely been silent in combatting the violence issue while our people are murdered in the streets. It’s time for change, and the way we make that happen is by voting.

It’s important that we get out and vote on November 8, but it’s also important that we get ready for 2023. We’ll elect a new Mayor and possibly as many as six new City Council members.  I want to hear their plans for addressing gun violence. I want to know how they plan to make our city safer. It’s time for new vision and new ideas, and we’ve got to keep them accountable. The time for empty promises is over. We need action.

Ryan N. Boyer is the Business Manager for the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, a consortium of more than 50 labor unions in Philadelphia’s building and construction trades. Since August 2008, Mr. Boyer has served as Business Manager of the Laborers District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia and Vicinity, a coalition of three local unions with over 6,000 members.