Receiving reports every day on the murdering of black men causes the Mayor of PHL serious pain.
Prior to being the Mayor of Philadelphia and way before his more than a decade stint in City Council, Mr. Michael A. Nutter was a regular kid in Philly who was trying to stay alive in the midst of gang warfare in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
According to Mr. Nutter, who was born at Misericordia hospital in West Philly and had issues at home surrounding his father’s love for the bottle, it was a very dangerous time to be alive.
Growing up on 55th & Larchwood, Mr. Nutter paints a picture of what it was like back then: a gang at one end of the block and police at the other.
“You wouldn’t know which way to run, he says,” alluding to how violent both groups – gangs and the police – were perceived.
Mr. Nutter went to Transfiguration Of Our Lord Catholic Elementary School, which was around the corner from his house and made it easy to avoid the gangs. The high school years, however, were a bit different.
Whereas, Mr. Nutter was enrolled in St Joseph’s Preparatory, which was located at 17th & Girard, it required him to take the G bus to the EL and ride the train into Center City. Once in the town square, Mr. Nutter says everyday he had to decide how fast he felt he could run in order to escape the view of the Stiles and Seybert Street gangs, though he admits for the most part his preppy look gave him a pass.
As an emerging youth navigating the dangerous streets of Philadelphia and coupled with his best friend being shot in the face for giving the wrong girl a ride home, Mr. Nutter says he never forgot his responsibility to mitigate violence in Philadelphia.
His pledge to get a hold on the bad behavior in the City has finally taken shape, though its far from where he wants it. Homicides are down 40 percent since 2007 and last year 247 people were murdered in Philadelphia, the lowest since 1967.
Those numbers generated a quick celebration from The Nutter Administration and then it’s back to this harsh reality: 80 percent of people killed in Philly are black; 75 percent of them are black males.
Mr. Nutter reveals he has a “steady diet” of digesting bad news about black men. Every morning, he says, Police Commissioner Ramsey sends me a report of what took place overnight in the City: 16 year-old black male, 18 year-old black male, 22 year-old black male, 25 year-old black male, 27 year-old black male, 34 year-old black male, 38 year-old black male… shot, killed, stabbed, dead!
“That’s the start of the day… a lot of days, he said, noting that the most painful thing on a daily basis is the violence in the City.
Mr. Nutter says he could start his day, every day, in a bad mood, but chooses to be optimistic. He says Philadelphians are the most passionate, resilient and focused people and that’s what gets him up every morning, past the report from Commissioner Ramsey, and into his office at City Hall.
“I’m one of the most hopeful people in the City… if not the world, he said.
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