PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new program launched by the City of Philadelphia on Tuesday is hoping to break the dangerous cycle of gun violence. It’s a classroom setting like none other at Dobbins Career and Technical High School in North Philadelphia.
Dorothy Johnson Speight is the founder of Mothers In Charge, a group of women who have lost loved ones to violence.
“I want to bring my son into the room, his spirit,” she said. “This is Khaliiq Jabbar Johnson. He was 24 years old and he was shot seven times over a parking space. I want to read you the transcripts from the murder trial of my son.”
On this day, she was painfully reliving a poignant moment from the trial of the man convicted of killing her son, who was shot seven times and killed in 2003 over a parking space.
The gun that killed him should never have made it into the hands of the shooter.
“That is the testimony of the girlfriend who purchased the gun for the person who killed my son,” Johnson Speight said.
The moment began the launch of Operation Lipstick in Philadelphia. Lipstick is an acronym for “Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing.”
“We’re going to take it anywhere there are women,” Johnson Speight said. “Nail salons, beauty salons, to empower them and educate them on the dangers of buying, harboring, sharing and carrying guns, especially for folks who couldn’t buy them themselves.”
The operation is a joint effort by Mothers In Charge, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the School District of Philadelphia.
Its goal is to teach women the legal repercussions of what’s considered a straw purchase.
“Some of the preliminary reports suggest that eight of 10 straw purchases are women, they’re young women,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
The high-school-aged girls at Dobbins Career and Technical High School listened intently, surrounded by signs that drove home the message behind the mission.
“Operation Lipstick is a critical empowerment program, to empower people particularly young women who are too oftentimes engaged in straw purchases where they buy a gun and give it to someone who isn’t legally permitted to own a gun,” Shapiro said.
For those involved, it’s about breaking the dangerous cycle of gun violence in Philadelphia.
“Most times they don’t know that it can lead you to prison. Two guns, 10 years,” Johnson Speight said.
Operation Lipstick will target high schools throughout Philadelphia and community businesses geared toward women.
It will entail workshops, informative sessions and one-on-one interactions with women that will take place throughout the year.