Incidents involving guns have prompted citizens in the Allegheny, Nicetown and Tioga area to take a proactive stand against violence. Groups like Men United For A Better Philadelphia and programs like Cradle 2 Grave were created with the intent to bring awareness to gun violence in hopes of diminishing it in this neighborhood and in the city as a whole.
Malik Aziz created Men United For A Better Philadelphia after he was incarcerated for drug offenses. Aziz said that it was in prison where he noticed the growing number of young people coming in. “I was a concerned citizen. Years before [my arrest] I was active in the community, I just made a wrong turn,” Aziz said.
“While I was in prison, I was able to spend time coming up with ideas for the community – ideas to help people,” Aziz said. “It’s about taking back the community from the criminals.”
Men United For A Better Philadelphia got its start when Aziz noticed violence was on the rise. “We were having a rash of murders in 2002. I called all the leaders in Philadelphia together New Year’s Day. We all met and we came up with a mandate and a step program of how we are going to deal with the violence on the streets,” Aziz said.
From there, the group created events to help get the word out to people in the community. “Our signature event was the Wednesday night community engagement where we motorcade into a neighborhood and we get out of the car [and hand out] literature about violence,” Aziz said. “That was our strong point – to just go out into the neighborhoods and talk to young people.”
Aziz and Men United For A Better Philadelphia attempt to help out Philadelphia neighborhoods by actually going into the neighborhoods, which includes Nicetown-Tioga. “We do [go into Nicetown-Tioga] at Heroes Community center. We usually have meetings there, but we do the corner thing [too]. We go across Broad Street and Germantown Avenue near Temple Hospital and we talk to the neighbors and town watch.”
According to the Philadelphia Police Department’s website, in 2012 1,279 people became a victim of a shooting. The largest number of these victims were males in the age ranges of 18-24, with 548 victims and 25-34 with 394 victims. Gun violence as a whole has dropped from 1,407 in 2011 to 1,279 in 2012, which is an 8 percent decrease.
In the 39th District of Philadelphia, which is the Allegheny/Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood, residents are still facing a major problem when it comes to gun violence. Phillypolice.com listed that last year 106 people fell victim to a shooting and 27 people total were murder victims. Of those 27, 25 people were killed by someone with a gun.
Jamal Alli-Savage, a resident of the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood ended up as one of those statistics. “I got held up last year. I had a gun to my head. I was just trying to finish my semester and visit my mom and then he comes up and tries to rob me. I tried to fight him off but the bullet ricocheted and I ended up with 22 stitches in my head,” Alli-Savage said.
Alli-Savage said that he believes gun violence has not gotten better in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood. “It’s gotten worse [because] it’s so easy to get guns [and] young people are watching too many television shows and think that reality is their reality,” said Alli-Savage. “It’s [also] getting worse because society in general is skewed on their views and moral values are shifting in a way.”
Aziz is working with some major players in the fight against gun violence and is trying to limit the number of guns in hopes that it will ultimately lower gun violence statistics. “We’re doing a lot against gun violence. We stand together with Mother’s United and Commissioner Ramsey and so many other people who are on the front lines with gun violence. Aziz said. “I’m trying to limit the guns that are in our in community.”
According to phillypolice.com, while the 14th, 16th, 22nd and 26th districts experienced a total decrease of 44 gun violence related victims from 2011-2012, Allegheny/Nicetown-Tioga remained with the same number of victims, 27, during that time period. A total of 35 victims were affected by gun violence during that time period in the 3rd, 15th, 18th and 24th districts.
The Allegheny/Nicetown-Tioga area also has a program right in the middle of the neighborhood that is working to decrease gun violence. Scott Charles and Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Amy Goldberg lead cradle 2 Grave, located at Temple University Hospital. The program was created in 2006. It has taught children and teenagers in Philadelphia about the consequences of gun violence through classes that expose them to real photographs of gun violence victims. The program also takes them through the life of Lamont Adams, a Philadelphia teenager who was killed in a shooting at the age of 16.