Several weeks ago, Shoshana Brown was listening to the radio when she heard the announcer report the city’s murder rate at 94 people dead.
“A couple hours later, the guy randomly stated, ‘Oh, another guy was just shot. It’s 95 now.’ I was stunned at how it occurred just like that, and I discussed with my roommates how we had to do something,” the senior social work major said.
Brown, a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., decided to organize a forum where students, faculty and community members could discuss a rapidly escalating murder rate that is gripping the city. The event was sponsored by Temple Student Government, the Temple Association of Black Journalists and Brown’s sorority.
Seventy-five people gathered in the Student Center last Thursday to “speak up about the violence happening in our community,” as the tagline read on the projection screen.
TSG President-elect Juan Galeano, Deputy Director of Campus Safety Services Charles Leone and Campus Police Capt. Eileen
Bradley were in attendance, along with many others, to offer their opinions on what could be done to quell Philadelphia’s rising murder rate.
“Philadelphia is much smaller than New York or Los Angeles, but we are a murder capital,” Brown said to a sobered audience.
In 2006, 64 percent of the murder victims
were young black men, and more than 300 of the 406 killed were done so by guns, she added.
In response to such frightening statistics,
Leone said, “It takes a village to raise a kid, and that is unfortunately lacking in Philadelphia.” He added that, once children reach their adolescence, teachers seem to get scared off and do not want to deal with them. “But that is when they need help the most,” he said. The forum was not completely negative.
About 25 middle school students participating in Project Greek, an after-school program at Young Scholars Charter School located two blocks from Main Campus, performed an impressive step routine to a variation of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”. The students alternated their moves with colorful signs that read: “pain”, “happiness” and “charity”.
The performance contrasted the pain caused by violence to the happiness that will hopefully take its place as community members work to resolve the problem. Following the performance, attendees
were offered the chance to voice their suggestions for solutions to the problem, which were to be drafted into a letter that would be sent to both the Philadelphia Police commissioner and the upcoming mayoral candidates.
Although a wide range of causes were listed, the audience mainly attributed community violence to the lack of recreation centers, which serve as an outlet for kids. The custom of not reporting a murder, due to either intimidation or fear of being called a snitch, was also considered.
“Solving the murder rate has got to come from us, banding together like we are right now,” Bradley said. “I don’t know that [our politicians] have the answer. It has got to come from us.” Karen Turner, a broadcast journalism professor, agreed. “It is a shame that our mayoral candidates
didn’t think anti-violence was important
enough for a place in their schedules, but it is great to see so many students caring here today,” she said.
Senior journalism major and Vice President
of TABJ Danielle Milner, who lives with Brown, also helped to organize the event.
“I think it’s important that we do put forums together like these because, from a media standpoint, the spin on the murder problem in our city does need work,” she said.
Travis Gold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.