PHILADELPHIA, May 1, 2009 – Thursday night, State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, State Reps. Kenyatta Johnson and Babette Josephs and Council President Anna Verna were joined by nearly 100 community members, activists and police officers for a community meeting in South Philadelphia. The goal of the meeting, held at the Miracle Temple of Christ Church, was to address the gun violence in the Grays Ferry community, notably the recent shootings of South Philadelphia teens Harvey Lewis and Dominique Randall Smith.
“We have all seen the tragedies that violence has caused in our city, touching the lives of everyone from our school children to our police officers,” said Williams. “We have to do what government cannot do. We need reach out to our neighbors and we need take back our communities.”
Each elected official was given the opportunity to speak, followed by brief presentations from community activists and Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel. Community members were also given the opportunity to speak. Ten-year-old Kameron Pernell, who was shot twice in January in the Grays Ferry section, and his mother were recognized. While speaking to the elected officials and the crowd she urged repeatedly that “it has to stop.”
Lewis and Smith were killed at the intersection of 29th and Morris St. on Sunday evening, April 19, after leaving the home a friend. 17th Police District officer have arrested two teenage suspects, Derek Barnes and Anthony Satchel, in connection with the murders. Lewis and Smith were the 81st and 82nd homicides in Philadelphia this year.
Community members also joined together at a rally organized by Town Watch Integrated Services last Friday to make a statement against the growing level of teen violence in Philadelphia.
“The first thing that obviously has to happen is that we need to organize ourselves. We have to get up out of this hall and walk on the streets,” Williams said. “I don’t mean us a church, or us as an elected person, or us as a civic leader, but us as a community.”
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