The government isn’t going to save us, so we have to take control of our streets and save ourselves | Jenice Armstrong
Get as fired up about the gun violence that plays out in our communities as you do in cases involving police injustice, such as when two black men were arrested at a Center City Starbucks last year.
I’ve had it.
And if you’ve been following news reports these last few weeks about all of the children getting shot and killed, you should have had it, too. This time of year, children should be getting ready to write letters to Santa — not lying in hospital beds or, worse yet, on slabs in morgues.
We need stricter gun control legislation, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. So it’s up to us to help make our streets safer.
In other words, it’s time for Philadelphians to step up.
“Everybody just sort of says, well, what can I do?” State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila.) said Thursday about the children’s deaths. “We can do a lot.”
Start by properly securing and storing all weapons in your homes. If you don’t, you’re complicit in whatever happens.
Get as fired up about the gun violence that plays out in our communities as you do in cases involving police injustice, such as when two black men were arrested at a Center City Starbucks last year. Protesters made so much noise about what occurred that the Seattle-based coffee chain took the unprecedented step of shutting down every one of its stores in North America for implicit bias training. Philly made its position known, and change happened.
Join neighborhood watch and other community groups. More of us need to support those who are similarly concerned about pushing back against gun violence. Nothing is going to change if we relax in our own little silos and wait for the government to swoop in and save the day. My colleague Solomon Jones has organized a gathering for black men called #ManUpPHL that will take place at 6 p.m. Monday at Community College of Philadelphia, Great Hall, Second Floor, 502 N. 17th St. CeaseFire PA will hold a similar gathering on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Temple University’s Student Faculty Center, 3340 N. Broad St. I’m sure there are others in the works.
When you hear about these types of things, go. Find a way to get involved and do it.
Reach out to youngsters hanging out on the corners all day with nothing to do. Maybe try to mentor someone or offer someone a job, if you can. As South Philly activist Anton Moore pointed out this week, “When was the last time that you saw a shooter that was making $30,000 to $40,000 a year?”
Keep a close watch on those with mental health issues. Four members of the same family were killed in their West Philly home last month by a 29-year-old relative diagnosed with schizophrenia. State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) has a free mental health workshop for young teens scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology, 640 N. 66th St.
Forget the no-snitching code of the street. Band together as a community and partner with local law enforcement. Get to know officers who work in your district — before you need to dial 911. And when something happens, try to cooperate.
One of my police sources told me a relative of one of the children caught in the crossfire recently knows exactly who it was doing the shooting but is deep in “f— the police” mode and is refusing to divulge the gunman’s identity. Knowing the shooter is still out there on city streets and likely going about his business should be chilling to every person in this city. That same source assures me that "witness retaliation is very rare.”
It shouldn’t have to be this way. But nothing’s going to change until we do.
We begin by taking at least a small step — instead of waiting for the government to swoop in and save us.