By KYW Community Affairs Reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A North Philadelphia recovery program is teaming up with community groups for a “Stop the Violence” march beginning at Broad and Lehigh Saturday afternoon.
“This is our problem, not the police problem,” says Mell Wells, President of One Day at a Time- HIV/AIDs program. They organized the March, which begins at 3 p.m., to bring communities together to stand up against random shootings, drive-bys and senseless killings in the streets.
Wells says each violent act destroys two lives:
“We have to step up and do something about the violence,” he says “We want to show that we care for the guy that’s getting buried. We want to show that we care for the guy in a jail cell.”
“I been getting high ever since for this pain,” says Denise Stansberry spoke about the pain of losing a daughter, Vanessa, in a drive-by shooting and then later her five-year-old son, Jacob, who also died because of violence. “They never caught who did it. And I’ve been suffering ever since.”
There are many root causes to violence, but drugs and guns many times are a factor.
“Drugs got me shot, once in my head, twice in my neck,” says Ted Herring. At 42 years old, he says he’s spent more than half his life behind bars. “Drugs have never given me anything. It’s only taken things from me. To all you kids out here, selling drugs, not going to school- you need to change your life.”
Last year, Philadelphia police reported 331 homicides. So far this year, 111 murders have been reported.
Therea Martin-Millings, spokesperson for One Day at a Time says the march isn’t just for people from North Philadelphia.
“This is a citywide march- we want people from Southwest, West Philadelphia, Northwest, Germantown- heck, Chestnut Hill,” she says, “We all have to stand together.”
“We’ve gone numb,” says Bilal Qayyum of Father’s Day Rally Committee. “We must speak out- we must break our silence about violence!”
For more information, go to www.odaat.us.