Awareness march set Saturday
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 12:00 AM
As a sign of solidarity and unity in wake of recent shootings in the city, a group of residents is planning a "Stop the Violence" march Saturday beginning at the site where a young man was killed on Oct. 31.
There have been 14 shooting incidents in the city since early summer, including the latest, on Sunday, Nov. 10, when a man was shot in his yard on Davis Street.
After the march, there will be a short program at Booker T. Washington football field with comments from friends and relatives of some of those affected by the recent violence, said Shaun Seales, one of the organizers.
In addition, a community-wide meeting to address violence is being planned for early December in Westside Community Center.
The march will begin at 1 p.m. near Philadelphia Apartments on Pearl Avenue where Samuel Grady, 28, of 10520 Road 747, was killed in the parking lot on Oct. 31.
"We are marching in solidarity to show our concerns and frustrations with all the senseless violence in the community," Seale said. "So please come out and take your stand in support of stopping the violence."
The march will be along such streets as Loper, Lewis, Chestnut, Martin Luther King, Adams, Carver, Davis, Bell and Adkins where most of the shootings have occurred, he said.
Among the speakers at the program will be Tiffany Moore Miller, a friend of Terri Lee Gwyn, 29, who was killed on March 2. Daniel Larry Williamson, 48, of 100 Sistrunk Ave., Lot 3, was sentenced to 20 years for manslaughter in connection with her death last week. He also received 20 years for arson in the same case.
Connie Donald, the mother of Michael Deangelo Moore, 24, who was killed in January 2011, is also scheduled to speak, Seale said.
Moore suffered a gunshot wound to the head in what authorities said was a domestic dispute. A woman was sentenced for manslaughter in that case.
Friends and relatives of some of the more recent victims may also speak, Seale said.
Other speakers on the program are Mayor James A. Young, the Rev. Steve Mosley, pastor of The Church of Hope, the Rev. Harold Coburn, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, and Ward 4 Alderman Cecil Nichols.
Mayor Young plans to join the group in the march.
"We have got to get back to morals and values," Young said. "That's what we are basically going to be talking about. You cannot police morals. Not only Philadelphia, but it seems to be an unraveling of the moral respect for life. We need to rekindle that back in this great small town of Philadelphia. We've had it and we are going to fight to get it back. We have a great city but we just cannot allow these violent acts to go unchecked. We need to look at every avenue we can to bring awareness for our communities to stay viable and to grow."
Charlene Kirksey, who is helping organize the community meeting in December, said she is tired of hearing about the violence and crime.
"The shootings and stabbings, it takes somebody to come forward and not be afraid to call the police," Kirksey said. "People are living in fear in the community. People do not want to come forward with information about these crimes."
While she lives in the eastern part of the city, Kirksey said she has friends and family members who live in the western area of the city where the majority of the shootings have occurred in recent weeks.
"I have childhood friends who live there," she said. "It's sad and I refuse to let it happen if I can do anything to stop it. I just can't stand it. It bothers me a lot and I hate to see it happening."
Mayor Young hopes those affected by acts of violence will be present for the community meeting in December as well.
"We are trying to get everyone touched by violence in some way in this community over the last 10 to 20 years at this community meeting," he said. "Sometimes we forget the young men that have lost their lives violently in the street. We have a problem in forgetting too soon how much pain it is causing."
Kirksey said pastors from most of the 14 churches in the area have agreed to speak at the community meeting about violence and crime in their neighborhoods and what residents can do to assist law enforcement.
She noted the importance of the "Neighborhood Watch" program.
"I've had a meeting earlier with the pastors and I had 11 come forth to say they were very happy to participate and speak to the people. They feel they can come together for the goodwill of the people," Kirksey said.
Members of other groups such as the NAACP, Community in Action and Sportsmen's Club will also participate.
"We want to form an organization that addresses the problems with crime and see if we can find some solutions for it," she said.