Vets death brings full crowd to town hall meeting

GERMANTOWN - August 25, 2010

This came after 87-year-old World War II veteran George Graves was shot and killed during an alleged robbery in the driveway of his Cedarbrook home.

17-year-old India Spellman and 14-year-old Von Combs were charged as adults in his murder.

"We can't just come out for a tragedy, although, this did bring us out, but maybe out of this, some good can come," neighbor Yvonne Nicholson said.

Citizens of the community came out hoping to bolster a unified front to combat what they describe as escalating crime.

At the meeting, Philadelphia Police Captain Verdell Johnson reported homicides, shootings and rapes are all up in the 14th District, while they are down officers due to budget cuts.

Still, he says, that's not stopping them from doing more with less.

"Because of what happened last week, the commissioner has directed some outside units to also help us out; you're not going to see the undercover narcotics, but they're out here," Johnson said.

"We need to work with our police officers, and I'm going to be truthful with you, if I was a police officer, in this day and time, with these kinds of ruthless individuals running around, I'd keep my hand on the trigger," Belind Clay of Mount Airy said at the meeting.

While it was standing room only Wednesday night, many community members pointed out it takes more than attending just one meeting to bring about change. These town hall meetings take place once a month; neighbors are hoping next month there's an even bigger turnout.

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