On March 24, the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement (OBME) and the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males (MCAAM) hosted a virtual community meeting to hear from local organizations that are determined to combat the city’s gun violence epidemic.
OBME and MCAAM have partnered with The Office of Violence Prevention to spark the attention of the city government and the need for them to respond to Philadelphia neighborhoods struggling to fight the epidemic.
“We are all here today to have a discussion and open dialogue and to provide community members and stakeholders information about the gun violence epidemic that continues to plague this city” Darren Lipscomb, chairman of the Mayor’s Office Of Black Male Engagement, said.
Having local organization’s input and thoughts on combating gun violence gives the city government more of an opportunity to respond and formulate plans to help the crisis.
“It’s an opportunity for the commissions to sit back and gather information,” Lipscomb said. “Information that we can then take and share with the department heads throughout the administration so this issue can be resolved and put in the past.”
Pastor Carl Day, the leader of the Faith Coalition for the Office of Violence Prevention, joined the community meeting to speak about his mission to help teenagers throughout the city who are victims of gun violence, as well as advocating for and providing resources committed to combating the gun violence epidemic.
“We mentor teenagers throughout the city of Philadelphia and do a lot of on the ground activism as well as hitting the corners regularly and talking to brothers out there on the block,” Day said. “We’re trying to leverage a lot of the relationships with city leaders and other people who are involved to really help provide those resources, create end roads, engage, equip, and empower our young brothers and sisters to make better decisions and to create better environments that are conducive for them to grow and thrive in Philadelphia.”.
In response to his mission of assisting victims of gun violence, Day has launched the Participatory Defense Hub designed for individuals to fight for equality in Philadelphia’s criminal justice system. The Hub also assists victims with resources to guide them throughout their struggles.
Ricky Duncan, the CEO and executive director of the NoMo Foundation attended the event to speak about the foundation’s innovative prevention and intervention programs that are directed toward helping the youth by providing resources to those who are at high-risk of violence.
NoMo Foundation has created various youth programs designed to help teens who are more vulnerable to pregnancies, drug abuse, illiteracy, and violence.
“Through these programs that we offer, the ultimate end goal is to help put an end to poverty and to stop the ongoing violence in Philadelphia,” Duncan said.
Duncan explained how the crisis is not only about lack of funding but it’s about the lack of direction the city is providing to the youth victims of gun violence.
The community leaders expressed the importance of the city government’s need to strategize and prioritize assisting these local organizations to help put an end to the violence.
“I see a lot of youth out there that are struggling with conflict resolution, they just don’t know how to resolve conflict,” Day said. “Right now, people are under the impression that they have to shoot first before they end up being shot, and that’s what’s really sparking the violence. The city needs to prioritize this issue.”
A key resolution touched upon by the members is the need for organizations to have proper communication with the youth and to introduce resources in an effective way so victims become more receptive to wanting to get the support.
According to Duncan, mental health has become an unrecognized contributor to gun violence.
“With homicide rates rapidly increasing, children are losing family members left to right which is deeply affecting their mental health,” Day said.
Day also added that the pandemic government assistance has greatly contributed to the rising homicide rates.
“These kids are getting PUA and other government assistance which is supposed to help the community but it’s really hurting our community,” Duncan said. “These kids aren’t going out and investing their money into something positive, rather their investing it into firearms and drugs which is where the violence is stemming from.”
Bilal Quyyum, a commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement, attended the event to speak about the office’s models to create safer neighborhoods.
The main idea is to highlight the importance of communicating with the community.
“It is all about creating an open dialogue with these communities to learn and grasp a better understanding in order to successfully resolve violence.” Quyyum added.
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