Philadelphia community leaders hold forum after violent weekend

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After another weekend of bloodshed in the Philadelphia, community members gathered at The Met to discuss the rampant violence on Sunday night.

One mother shared her story to the crowd of hundreds, including state lawmakers and the police commissioner.

"It's time we take responsibility for ourselves," she said.

She went on to share a story of her own late son, and his life of crime and how she held him accountable.

"This one wasn't innocent. He was robbing, stealing and doing all kinds of things and I was the one calling the cops on him. Do you hear what I'm saying?" she added.

The forum, "Put It Down" put on by state lawmakers with the hopes that dialogue could spark ideas to help curb the violence.

"We wanted to make sure we heard from regular folk from different walks of life. Some sophisticated, some less sophisticated but each of whom has a message in their heart and set of experiences that need to be heard from," said Senator Sharif Street.

Especially, on the heels of Saturday's shooting in West Philadelphia. Police say seven people were shot during a basketball game. The two gunmen are still on the loose.

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Some in the neighborhood find it defeating.

"It's typical around here, this always happens. People get robbed, shot or house invasion," said resident Lataya Williams.

Commissioner Richard Ross, who also attended the forum, said has the mood has to change. He admits it won't happen overnight.

"We should never give up on any situation because most of these young guys are salvageable, many of them don't want to be doing what they're doing. It's a very very small minority who quite frankly don't want to be reached, but that's a small percentage," he said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Kenney issued the following statement:

"The mayor is distraught by the rise in gun violence that's plaguing our city. The recent incidents that occurred in public spaces are particularly distressing. Summer should be a celebratory and relaxing time of year; residents should never be fearful to attend a public event in or near public facilities. He's grateful that the victims of last night's shooting appear to have not suffered life-threatening injuries but acknowledges that the outcome could have been far worse. He has asked the Police department and Parks and Recreation to increase police presence at all permitted events throughout the remainder of the summer.

"Mayor Kenney wants the public to know that we will never throw our hands up in the belief that nothing can be done to combat this epidemic. We are investing $31.5 million in new funding to support implementation of our citywide violence prevention strategy The Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities. Our new budget also adds 50 police officers, bringing total police force to over 6,500. And we will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to fight for common sense gun reform to address an underlying cause of these shootings - easy access to firearms in our country."
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