A small group of West and Southwest residents participated in a march on Mother’s Day to call for an end to the violence sweeping the city’s streets, which began at Sister Claire Muhammad Park at 47th and Wyalusing Avenue and ended in a ceremony at Charles Richard Drew Elementary school on 37th and Warren streets near Powelton.
Organized by Islam Sharief, the group of concerned residents, some of whom lost loved ones to violence, gathered at the park where they were escorted by police to the school in an effort to raise awareness about this growing concern.
“This is a launch leading to non-violence and anti-drug [efforts]” Sharief said. “Basically we wanted people to come out and join us with the power of faith.”
Not only does Sharief seeks to mobilize residents but also solicited the help of elected officials since, he says, the impact of the growing problem on their constituencies.
“It’s constantly growing,” he said. “This thing about not thinking and not having respect for each other. We believe this shooting, killing and robbing has grown into an epidemic.”
Asked what he thought was the cause of this violence, Sharief stated the cause was in the unhappiness many youth feel about their lives and present situations.
Sharief believes that solution to the problem lies in the age-old advice “think before you act.”
In fact, Sharief advises people to think five times before committing an act which might change a person’s life forever.
“We are asking participants [in the march] to spread the message that if they think five times before committing a crime, they will find something much better in their lives,” he said.
Although not many people attended the march, those who did were all connected in their desire to end what several have referred to as the epidemic of violence sweeping the city.
“Violence is one of the things which has ripped our community in half,” said Wesley Bey of the Moors Unification Council of the World, Inc.
He noted holding the march on Mothers Day was symbolically important because of the toll that violence has had on the many parents who lose children or live in fear of doing so.
“We’re trying to just make the people aware of what violence does to our community and that they really need to get involved,” Bey said.
Gregory Wallace participated in the march and knew from personal experience how devastating crime and violence can be on a family having lost a sister and a nephew on the streets.
He said the violence is the result of senseless hate and stated the hearts of young people need to be changed.
Wallace’s sentiment was echoed by Gwendolyn Flythe who also attended the march.
“I’m here because the violence here in Philadelphia seems to be just getting worse and worse,” she said. “If I could make any kind of change today, just walk past one persona and change their minds about hurting or killing someone, I hope that happens.”
For more information or to hear how you can get involved, go to www.blindfaith4U2.com.