Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Neighborhood Nightmare in Philadelphia: Man Gunned Down Protecting His Son

Amidst my recent posts about inspirational leadership and technology integration ideas from the 2011 ISTE conference in Philadelphia, I’ve been shocked and saddened to read about incredible levels of recent violence in the city which are heartbreaking as well as alarming. According to the June 28, 2011, article in the The Philadelphia Inquirier newspaper, “32 people shot in 3 days of violence,”

It was a weekend of violence and mayhem – brutal even by Philadelphia standards. From Friday through Sunday, 32 people were wounded, six fatally, in about 20 shootings across the city, police said, and a seventh person died in a stabbing. Police are also investigating four assaults and robberies committed by “roving packs of young people” leaving a North Philadelphia street festival Saturday night, Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said. Police had not yet determined if the 32 shooting victims represented the worst three-day span of violence in the department’s recent history.

Philly Police photo © 2010 versageek | more info (via: Wylio)

This news article seems a bit surreal since I’ve been here the week following these shootings, staying in a downtown hotel not far from where some nightmarish acts of violence took place.

According to the article “Teen dipute cited in death at playground” in the same day’s paper:

The gunfire, which erupted around 9 p.m. at the outdoor party that drew as many as 200 people to the Strawberry Mansion park Sunday night, stemmed from a long-simmering dispute between a neighborhood teenager and a group of other teens, police said… The teenager’s father, 30-year-old Nyeme Taylor, intervened in the fight and was killed by one of the teenagers… Police said the teenager had been assaulted by five males at the park about a half-hour before the shooting. He went home and told his father, who then accompanied the boy back to the park and confronted the other teens, Clark said. “The father stated to them, ‘My son will fight each one of you one at a time,’ ” Clark said. “With that, they collectively assaulted the teen again.” When Taylor tried to pull one of the attackers off his son, someone drew a gun and opened fire.

The article goes on to describe how Taylor and his wife had six children, and a past record of bullying preceded these tragic events.

Tanya Taylor said her son has been beaten up regularly by neighborhood youths since the family moved to a home around the corner from the park at 33d and Diamond Streets. Taylor even pulled her son and 15-year-old daughter out of the nearby Hill Elementary School when school administrators could not adequately assure her that they would stop the harassment, she said.

It is difficult for me to imagine living in an environment of fear, insecurity, violence and tragedy like the one described in these articles. My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by these acts of violence, and with the police members charged with bringing those responsible to justice. Stories such as these make me count my blessings, but also consider my own actions as a member and citizen of my larger community back home.

No one should live in fear. I hope these tragic events will catalyze citizens in Philadelphia to come together and take action to address the root causes of this violence. I will not pretend to know what those are, but my strong suspicion is they run deep. Deep roots are hard to remove, but they can be. New trees can be planted, nurtured, and grown to replace them. That is a long process, however, and may require many nurturing hands to accomplish.

Oak Tree Leavesphoto © 2007 Dominic Alves | more info (via: Wylio)

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