A gathering of ten residents for the 22nd District’s community meeting this week may not have seemed like much, but what they brought with them were loads of concerns–and passion for the place they call home.
For the district, which includes Strawberry Mansion, a central issue was the increasing number of individuals roaming the streets on warm days.
“Violence tends to increase when it’s warm,” said Douglass Evans, a trainer and recruiter for the district’s Town Watch Integrated Services, an organization dedicated to “promoting safety through community policing,” according to its official website.
Evans noted the warm weather tends to attract young people who can potentially cause problems. This could also have been a contributing factor to the May 24 shooting of two 13-year-old girls caught in the crossfire of a shoot out between Radeem Corley, 17, and two other individuals during a party on Myrtlewood Street, according to published reports.
“My worst fear is a kid getting caught in the crossfire,” said Karen Gardener, a 48-year Strawberry Mansion resident.
Including this incident, there have been a total of nine shootings in Strawberry Mansion since the district had its last meeting on April 26, said Shannon Moore, the community relations officer for the district.
“People don’t want to speak up because they’re afraid,” she said.
To address this issue, the district has implemented a variety of initiatives it hopes will spur residents to notify police about their concerns. In addition to its increased presence on Facebook and Twitter, residents can submit anonymous complaint forms detailing community issues such as drugs sold out of vehicles or abundant trash.
Jim Sanders, the executive director for PhillyRising Collaborative, a program that attempts to improve neighborhoods plagued by high crime rates, noted its increased police presence, foot patrol and encouraged residents to participate in Town Watch and youth activities.
“We’re combining resources that already exist and identifying new resources,” he said.
The overarching message of the community meeting was to speak up if suspicious behavior is occurring in residents’ communities.
“You have to stand up for where you live,” Moore concluded.