PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A coalition of men is working to reclaim the streets in two of Philadelphia’s toughest neighborhoods.
“We need men out here,” says Brian Daniels, one of the members Philadelphia for Professional Progress, a grassroots coalition that is hoping to curb violence by targeting youth through night walks. The group of men meets in North Philadelphia on Tuesdays near 4th and Lehigh and in West Philadelphia on Fridays near 52nd and Chestnut Streets where they pound the pavement hoping to engage young Black men.
“Men today grew up with no fathers; they don’t know, we can show them a better way,” says Daniel. “They need jobs – and I mean good jobs – not $9 an hour – they need to take care of their families.”
“So we have a back-end front end approach,” says Emmanuel Bussie, who organized the coalition. He says they launched their group four months ago. On the front end, PPP gathers data about job opportunities and then use the Night Walks and social media to distribute the information in high traffic areas. They also use the effort to recruit men with street credibility join their grassroots rapid response team.
“So when we have incident, you can call that rapid response team and they can come out and defuse the situation,” he says, noting that law enforcement involvement can lead to arrests and criminal charges that can plague a man for years to come.
“They need opportunity,” says Kayzar Abdul Khabir, who is part of Muslims for Humanity, based in Cobbs Creek. He says many of the residents in West Philadelphia are being “gentrified out” of the neighborhood and the PPP sees employment as the path to keeping people in their homes.
“We have a lot of people in re-entry,” says Khabir, “people need training and jobs so they can do something.”
“I’m glad to see them look out for people,” says Teonte, who took a flier for job opportunities at the Water Department. “They are really doing something positive.”
Bussie says the coalition began their effort four months ago and they don’t plan to stop anytime soon.