Ending the cycle of gun violence means setting aside 'petty beefs,' community advocates say

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Since Friday night, nearly two dozen people have been injured by gunfire, including several teenagers in Philadelphia.

Community advocates say an important way to stop gun violence is going into these communities, meeting young people where they're at, and show the importance of setting aside "petty beefs."

Pastor Carl Day of Culture Changing Christians Worship Center in North Philadelphia works with John Solomon, founder of Endangered Kind organization, to visit communities plagued with gun violence. They also offer resources and mentorship to get people of all ages off the streets.

"We've reached a level where we got to get really back to the origins of community," said Day. "We need community accountability, culture accountability."

"I try to provide that same thing I didn't have growing up to these young people out here because they need it," said Solomon. "They need guidance."

Day said his ministry works with 28 youth individuals three days a week, with mentors offering support, advice and engaging in activities like volunteering and playing basketball. He said they also work with adults 18 years and older who are at risk of engaging in the cycle of gun violence.

"A lot of these are broken people making broken decisions, and its like, quite frankly, it's just not an easy fix," said Day. "You gotta really build relationships with these guys and transform how they think."

Shackeal Johnson calls himself one of Day's mentees. He was shot twice two weeks ago in West Philadelphia.

"A lot of things are going through your mind, not to mention the fact that you're met with the obstacle of individuals coming to you or calling you seeking revenge for what happened to you. And that's just another endless cycle," said Johnson.

Johnson said when a victim is vulnerable and in the hospital, having support in that moment is crucial to ending gun violence.

"Just a person that can just show that they care and are mentally there to deal with this on a mental level to, you know, kind of talk us off a ledge so to speak," said Johnson.

Philadelphia has 246 homicides so far in 2021. Last year set a record of 499 homicide victims.

"We really need to restore love," said Day. "Love is truly, truly missing in this city. A lot of these young brothers and sisters feel like they're not loved, they're not listened to and we have to get back to loving on them," said Day.

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