Tuesday, August 08, 2006

ILL-Town's Rep ...

Philly ain't looking so good these days, as underscored by this latest piece surrounding the controversy over an HIV/AIDS campaign image:

While Philadelphia's mayor and police commissioner have been campaigning against surging gun violence, the city's Department of Public Health has been fighting another scourge with both barrels.

In public service ads urging HIV testing, young African American men are shown in the crosshairs of a gun with the tagline "Have YOU been hit?"

Understood that you want to dramatically underscore the problem of HIV/AIDS in the African American community. But, this is not the kind of message you want to send about that segment of the city's population disproportionately impacted by surging gun violence. Ill-town gets real ill:

Philadelphia's seemingly intractable crisis of gun violence has gotten so bad - particularly in poor, predominantly minority neighborhoods - that Mayor Street and regional leaders, including Cardinal Justin Rigali, held an unprecedented summit meeting at City Hall on July 31. As of midnight Sunday, 238 people had been been murdered, compared with 215 at the same time last year.

No crime emergency just yet, like in D.C. Nor does Street figure that he reaped what he sowed on this one after shifting resources from community revitalization to downtown improvement and unimpeded gentrification. It'll cool down after the summer, once the city packs its kids back into that prison called the Philadelphia Public School System.