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Philly tolls the bell for National Gun Violence Awareness Day – NBC10 Philadelphia

From West Philadelphia to Old City, bells rang for five minutes Friday afternoon to honor victims of gun violence across the country.

The “Toll the Bell” event from Penn Live Arts and dozens of partners – including faith-based and community nonprofits – featured bells ringing at various locations in Philly from 1:00 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. The sound system was in commemoration of National Gun Violence Awareness Day. It also represented a surprising statistic. According to a KFF survey, one in five Americans has lost a family member to gun violence.

Before the bells rang, a public interfaith vigil honoring victims of gun violence was held at 12:30 p.m. at the Annenberg Center Outdoor Plaza at 3680 Walnut Street.

“I have had the misfortune to sit with parents who have lost children to gun violence,” Bishop Patricia Davenport of the ELCA of Southeastern Pennsylvania said at the vigil. “I have heard their lamentations and I have wiped away their tears.”

Chaz Howard, the university chaplain and vice president for social equity and community at the University of Pennsylvania, also attended the vigil.

“To see so many people concerned and so many communities that care literally sounding the alarm and calling people to action gives me hope,” Howard said.

Howard told NBC10 that as a child he was robbed at gunpoint while playing football outside a church.

“I’ve also buried loved ones because of gun violence, so this is very, very tender for me,” Howard said.

Philadelphia has seen an increase in gun violence in recent years, as well as its highest number of reported homicides ever in 2021. However, so far in 2024, there has been a 36 percent decrease in reported homicides compared to the same time last year. This is evident from data from the Philadelphia police.

Organizers said the purpose of ringing the bell on Friday was for Philadelphians to take a break from their daily routines to pause and reflect on the impact of gun violence.

“Disrupting the environment through sound. All these bells and sounds are saying pay attention and learn more,” Christopher Gruits, the executive and artistic director of Penn Live Arts, told NBC10. “See how you can contribute to positive change.”

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