City

Anti–Gun Violence Advocates to Rally on Art Museum Steps

Columnist Helen Ubiñas wants to #FillTheSteps to speak out for those who have lost their lives or loved ones to guns.


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A #FillTheSteps rally in 2017. | Photo via SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestell III

For the third year in a row, Philadelphians will gather on the steps of the Art Museum on Monday to rally against gun violence.

The event, which is organized by dogged Daily News columnist Helen Ubiñas, will kick off at 1 p.m.

Ubiñas, who frequently writes about those affected by gun violence, started #FillTheSteps three years ago, after the massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. “While the nation reeled over that gun-related tragedy, I did not want the moment to pass without calling attention to the daily death toll in Philadelphia,” she wrote in a column this weekend.

The #FillTheSteps rally is held to invoke strength in numbers and demand the city to “take in just how many people are impacted by gun violence.” In her recent column, Ubiñas informally invited Mayor Jim Kenney (who attended last year), Police Commissioner Richard Ross and District Attorney Larry Krasner.

According to a Facebook page for the event, there won’t be formal speeches on Monday — but several Philadelphians “who want to be heard as loudly as the Parkland students” will offer a few words. Among them Kathy Lees, who lost her 17-year-old son exactly seven years ago on Monday. His murder — as well as about half the city’s homicides — remains unsolved.

Students from Parkway Center City High School in Callowhill are also expected to sing at the event.

In prior years, attendees shared stories of how they been affected by gun violence.

So far this year, 520 shootings and 125 homicides have occurred. Last year, the city surpassed 300 homicides for the first time since 2012. (There were 311.)

“This is a time for us to stand together and to make a commitment to one another that ENOUGH is ENOUGH, that everyday shootings must be part of the current reckoning on gun control,” the Facebook event page reads. “That we, the citizens of Philadelphia, must lead the fight.”