Rep. Fitzgerald: What is life worth to us?

Three weeks ago, as I was getting ready to host a three-day public safety event on guns and other ways to address violence in our communities, I found out about a shooting in my legislative district. I immediately went to the scene.

I did not hurry there to try and investigate or become an obstacle as local law enforcement did their job. I was there to offer my assistance and to see for myself just what had occurred.

The story is all too familiar. Innocent bystanders were caught up in a melee but fortunately did not get fatally injured, which is not always the case. This particular struggle was between two men – one did die. The injured individuals were a mom and her baby.

A mom and her baby. Think about that. They were in their car when due to the fight between two other people, their car was struck and they were injured from falling glass out of the car windows. All this while schools in the area were being dismissed, businesses were ending their day – a flurry of activity was happening. The unfortunate truth is it seems the perpetrators of crime do not care.

I have to say out loud, when will this end? We all need to care enough to do something because you or someone you know might be next. And for what? What is the end game here? Is it worth the loss of all these lives? More than 100 this year in the city.

As I write this, 120 homicides have been recorded in Philadelphia, a 3% increase from 2021. Have we become so depraved that the sanctity of life means nothing? Have we become so lost and empty that we don’t even care that one act of violence has the potential to ruin a generation and a culture? How can we sit silently by and witness the death of a generation? How can we sit silently by and not care? Not only does the victim suffer, but the perpetrator and everybody’s whole community suffers in some way.

We can all do something to change this narrative. I am joining my fellow local legislators and law enforcement to launch Third Thursday, a day every month that will be used to keep the community informed about happenings and to provide support of a collaborative effort of reporting and keeping watch day to day. But this initiative won’t do it all. We need folks to care, be responsive, be responsible. We need folks to not be afraid to stand up for their neighborhoods and their neighbors, to not be afraid to reclaim their communities and the safety that once existed. We all deserve to live in homes where we feel safe and warm and comforted, and enjoy our lives unencumbered by bullets and death. These occurrences can end with us. Let’s make it happen. 

Isabella Fitzgerald represents the 203rd Legislative District.