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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Tuesday walked back comments made hours earlier in which he said he can’t wait to leave office following the shooting of two police officers during a July 4th celebration.
Kenney was speaking with reporters Monday night when he suggested he was fed up with the city’s rise in gun violence. The latest round of gunplay occurred when shots rang out during the Wawa Welcome to America Fourth of July fireworks display on the Ben Franklin Parkway.
Two police officers sustained gunshot wounds and attendees were seen running for their lives during the celebration. The officers were treated and released from the hospital.
“I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July,” the mayor said outside Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where the officers were being treated. “I didn’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t enjoy the NFL draft. I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.”
On Tuesday, Kenney clarified his remarks, saying he was frustrated at the time.
“I said I was looking forward to no longer being mayor,” he said in a statement. “Let me be clear, I’m incredibly grateful to be mayor of this great city and for the people who elected me to lead.”
“I care deeply about the safety of our residents and the future of our city, and that’s why I’m disappointed with how I conveyed my sentiments last night. I made Philadelphians feel like I don’t care, and that cannot be further from the truth,” he added. “I’ve said it many times before, I lay awake at night thinking about the challenges facing the residents in our city and what more we can be doing or doing differently to solve them. Being mayor comes with a lot of restless nights, so I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep.”
Kenney’s earlier remarks prompted criticism from some elected officials.
Philadelphia Councilman Derek Green urged the mayor to resign in response.
“We are all exhausted by the level of gun violence in our City,” he wrote. “However, our City needs someone now with the passion and vision to lead us forward. Resign.”
City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart also chimed in: “Wow. This is the most irresponsible statement,” she tweeted. “Our city needs leadership, not someone who doesn’t want the job. We deserve better.”