'Speak Up Philly' town hall meeting against violence

Watch report from Action News
April 9, 2014 8:42:11 PM PDT
A town hall meeting drew hundreds of people to the Yesha Fellowship Hall in South Philadelphia to decry the recent violence surrounding purse snatchings.

This past winter saw two women murdered over their purses.

26-year-old Amber long who was shot in Northern Liberties on January 19th, and 29-year-old Melissa Thomas who was shot and killed in West Philadelphia on February 2nd.

The gunmen are still at large.

Three radio stations devoted their time and their airwaves to confront the deadly violence Wednesday.

For two hours RadioOne stations in Philadelphia stopped the music and opened the airwaves to find ways to stop the violence.

It was standing room only and those in attendance and listening over the airwaves hope the dialogue will lead to positive change.

"We need you to call 911 and let us know what's happening in your community," said District Attorney Seth Williams.

It is called Speak Up Philly.

The idea of the forum was born after numerous violent purse snatchings around the city.

"The purse snatching aren't decreasing," said Inspector Anthony Washington. "More and more people are doing them, and we want to decrease the likelihood of someone getting hurt."

It was a panel of power; politicians, community activists, police and city leaders fielding questions and comments about making Philadelphia safer.

"There has never been a platform like this for this city. We have to give our community an opportunity to speak, and our listeners are frustrated," said Shawneen Thompson, Radio One.

The room was full at Yesha Fellowship Hall in South Philadelphia as residents were given an opportunity to speak out.

Jocelyn Black, mother of two, brought her daughters because she thought it was important.

"So that they can see how the violence is affecting their neighborhood, and that important people are here to make sure the violence is stopping," said Black.

But gunshot victim Terry Starks says there needs to be more than just talk. He is part of an outreach program where he speaks to victims of violence.

"We do community rejuvenation. We mentor the kids; we have a music program for them," said Starks.

Gerri Hunter has been afraid to speak out before the meeting. She is optimistic that the town hall meeting will get results.

"If everybody could listen to it and get with it; it would be completely different because right now this is a lost generation," said Hunter.

Radio one says this is only the beginning for these types of forums. The next topic they want to tackle is violence in the schools.


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