September Mourn

This month’s cover reflects a growing crisis amplified in a special center spread. 

As we head into Labor Day weekend, one of the bloodiest summers in recent history comes to a close. Gun violence has exploded on the streets of Philadelphia, tearing through our most vulnerable and under-resourced neighborhoods in rates not seen since the height of the crack epidemic. What’s going on?

More Guns — Firearm sales took off in 2020 when the pandemic hit, then George Floyd, then the contested election… Millions more guns were suddenly in circulation, including new threats like ghost guns and 3-D printing.  Anyone who wants a gun can get a gun even easier than before.

Less Guidance — After-school and youth programs have been losing funding for awhile, but recently with COVID many have shut down or gone virtual or otherwise failed to meet the needs of Philadelphia’s young people. Gun violence intervention needs to include camps, sports, theaters, classes, day trips, internships, mentoring. Not just for children but for young adults as well.

Poverty — It’s not hard to understand: being poor is stressful, and people tend to make bad choices when they’re stressed. Is it any wonder that the majority of gun violence is concentrated in just 14 of Philadelphia’s 48 zip codes? A map from D.A. Larry Krasner’s office perfectly illustrates how income inequality and gun violence overlap in our city.

Many other issues also factor in, while Ria’s artwork drives home the inescapable reality: lives are being lost, on our watch. All of us bear collective responsibility as Philadelphia residents and neighbors to each other. We owe it to ourselves to demand more from City Hall, Harrisburg, Capitol Hill…. and our own communities.

Make sure you track down your copy of September’s Local paper, where Ria’s vibrant image sets the tone for a dramatic center spread anchored by a hand-drawn illustration set off with gun stats, poetry, advocacy info, and a self-soothing exercise for youth trauma.

Other articles you’ll find inside:

  • CALCULATED FRISK: New pilot program limits “Stop and Frisk” policing in NW Philly (a WHYY exclusive)
  • HABITAT FOR DIVERSITY: Art and culture come together in groundbreaking new project at the Schuylkill Nature Center.
  • GHANA MISS YOU: Fascinating feedback on our city from two Ghanaian transplants,
  • CALENDAR: Featured events from Quizzo nights to book signings plus markets, pop-ups, and other fun stuff.
  • REGULAR FEATURES including Ask Athena’s advice, Dr. Woodson’s social justice column. Calendar, trivia, crime report and real estate rundown. Plus reader favorite: Missed Connections.
  • SO MUCH MORE! Find us in local shops, cafes, libraries, etc. Or swing by our office at Chelten & Pulaski (if we’re closed, you can grab a copy from the red box outside our office).


In the city of Philadelphia, gun violence has skyrocketed, with 295 deaths as of August 23rd. While the number of families being destroyed increases — sensitivity to to the growing number is decreasing.

My illustration is a reminder that 295 is not just a number, but a representation of individuals with a name, a body, and a family.This is a depiction of how many families are mourning; a community that is grieving, a generation that is hurting. So put the guns down, stop the violence, and change the narrative of our communities.   

Check out Ria’s photography on her website, where she’s arranged her favorite stand-outs into three categories: performances, events and portraits. She’s got a thing for candid shots, and a real knack for catching the action at just the right moment.

Keep an eye on Ria’s Insta, too: — she’s always posting interesting stuff: podcasts, parties, photoshoots Stay tuned at the Local, always, for more from this multi-talented neighbor.

View last month’s cover here! 

About Sheria Gregory 7 Articles
Sheria Gregory is a professional photographer (the owner of Captured by Ria G) and a burgeoning illustrator. Photography is her first love. She specializes in event and wedding photography because she loves the authenticity of the candid style of shooting. She’s always viewed herself as a doodler when it comes to drawing, so illustrator is a new title for her. With two children’s books among her illustrator credits, she’s gaining momentum in that medium. She describes herself as a free-spirited creative that enjoys trying her hand at different forms of art.

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