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July Fourth Shooting At Ben Franklin Parkway Leads West Philadelphia Organizers To Put Block Parties On Hold

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The shooting on the Ben Franklin Parkway has organizers of other gatherings throughout Philadelphia thinking twice about holding certain events. In West Philly, some block parties that were scheduled for next weekend are now on hold.

While no lives were lost Monday night at the Parkway, the incident did reinforce an unfortunate new reality for Philadelphians: people are scared, and they do not feel safe.

"It was a laid-back, chill day. Weather was beautiful, concert was beautiful. But we live in America, and we have the 2nd Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want. It's like Dodge City," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "We have to come to grips with what this country is about right now. This is a gun country. It's crazy. We're the most armed country in world history and we're one of the least safest."

Kenney's stark commentary identifies what many people view as the problem resulting in record gun violence.

Eyewitness News spoke to Jabari Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative.

"Violence has had a profound impact," Jones said. "One of the biggest challenges that has come as part of the gun violence in the city is that all our businesses had been closing every night before nightfall, putting revenue back on the table. Profitability, diminishing the number of people they can hire. And of course, the gun violence has permeated through every neighborhood in West Philadelphia, and it's really unfortunate."

Also unfortunate? Jones's decision to suspend the collaborative's three annual block parties, the first of which is scheduled for next weekend, July 16.

"Last year, we said our businesses lost faith in the city to keep us safe and this year, unfortunately, it's not just the business community. It's residents. It's community organizations and it's our very mayor who are saying they think that bad things will happen every day," Jones said. "And unfortunately, because of that, we have had to make a drastic decision of reexamining whether our annual block parties can happen on schedule."

Eyewitness News asked Jones about the impact of this decision to suspend and what it says about the city and the country.

"I think it's sick and it's unacceptable," Jones said. "I think there is absolutely no reason why we should be living in a city or a country where people are afraid to leave their house or people can't go to a community event because they don't feel safe. Or people cannot go to a concert on the Parkway, which is one of the most staple events this city has on an annual basis, without worry about getting shot. It's ridiculous."

Eyewitness News wanted to know what his prescription is for the problem.

"We need some results. We need somebody to step up and say you know what, enough is enough, I'm going to be that person that says this is what we have to do even if that's something unpopular, even if that's something that gets you ridiculed," Jones said. "If that gets you attacked on Twitter. At some point, you have to put the city first and do what you feel in your heart is best for this city rather than playing it safe for political reasons."

Jones has been in touch with local law enforcement about the required coverage needed for the block parties. There's also the possibility, if funding allows, for private security at the parties. For now, it's all up in the air, but his primary concern is everyone's safety.

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