Activists hold peace rallies in wake of surging gun violence in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Community activists and city leaders organized multiple peace rallies Saturday in response to the surging gun violence in Philadelphia.

In Southwest Philadelphia, the "Guns Down Sticks Up" march brought together three community drill teams to make a statement.

"You have a mindset with young people, a lot of young people that living is worse than dying, and that's what we're seeing," said Fareed Abdullah, a community activist.

Organizer Kiana Farlow said, "When you don't have anything to run to, you don't have anybody, any resources to run to, then you run to the streets."

The march ended with a rally at Christy Recreation Center, where 16-year-old Kahree Simmons was killed playing basketball earlier this month.

A mile away, councilmember Kenyatta Johnson held a community meeting at Francis Myers Recreation Center, where 17-year-old Kyeir Pickens was killed last week.

"Keep the nonsense out of this park and this recreational facility," said Johnson. "History has shown when the weather gets nice we see an increase in gun violence. Today, we want to be proactive and organize this community."

Early Saturday morning, one person died, and five more were injured when shooters open fired at a pop-up party on the 4200 block of Germantown Avenue in the city's Nicetown section.

It was the city's 107th homicide of 2021.

"It makes it even more important to ensure we have a very solid plan in place. A comprehensive plan in place that does not just involve police but other city stakeholders," said police commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

The city did outline a plan this week to start holding bi-weekly briefings on violence. That includes efforts to increase patrols, engage the community, and get illegal guns off the streets.
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