"I Wouldn't Wish Living Here on Anyone"

Writer KIA GREGORY, a native of North Philadelphia, pleads with visiting members of the NAACP to help stop the killing of our children.

By Kia Gregory
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Jul. 7, 2004

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When I look at him, all I see is his future. I could never imagine it cut short.

Until now.

The whole city grieved over the loss of Faheem, whose teacher described him as a leader and a peacemaker.

Two months after he was murdered, more than 8,000 of us marched through Faheem's North Philadelphia neighborhood, partly to remember him, partly to protest the many children who were being killed by violence in the city.

We cried together and held our children close. But this wouldn't be the last time a mother in our city would face the unimaginable and bury her child because of violence.


Since the start of the school year, barely a week passed in our city without the violent death of a young person.

Some were shot. Some were stabbed. Others were strangled.

Our children died in arsons and robberies.

They were killed over petty debts, spats and feuds.

One evening shortly after Labor Day Karl Hatchett was driving in South Philly with his 8-year-old son, Khynief. Hatchett's ex-girlfriend was pregnant, and there'd been a dispute over whether he or a new boyfriend had fathered the child. As Hatchett drove down Fitzwater Street near 17th, someone shot at his SUV, and a bullet tore through Khynief's brain.

The new boyfriend was arrested the next day. Khynief died a week later.

Fourteen-year-old Michael Keel was sitting in his North Philadelphia home one October afternoon when he heard someone banging on his front door. Raymond Herbert, 19, was on the other side, looking to collect a $20 weed debt from Michael's older brother, who was upstairs. He'd been avoiding Raymond for weeks.

When Michael opened the door, Raymond shot him and left him lying in a pool of blood.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, worried neighbors searched their West Philadelphia neighborhood for 13-year-old Jasmine McDonald, who'd been missing for two days. They found her half-naked body in the basement of an abandoned house, next door to where she'd lived. Jasmine had been raped and stabbed several times in the neck. Her mother's ex-boyfriend was charged with the murder.

In December Alex Santiago, 17, died with burns over more than 70 percent of his body. Two weeks before his death someone set his Olney home ablaze, killing his mother, his older brother, his three-month-old niece and her mother.

In January Gregory White, 18, was shot and killed as he sat in a car in Mantua. Police could find no apparent motive.

By the time Faheem Thomas-Childs was walking to school that fateful February morning, almost two dozen city children had been murdered since September.

But until his murder, the death toll--which totaled 35 for the school year--barely drew notice in the city.


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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 4 of 4
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1. JIM said... on Dec 26, 2008 at 05:24PM

“HEY MY NAME IS JIM I LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO NOW BUT THAT WAS A VERY SAD DAY FOR ME WHEN I LIVED IN SOUTHWEST PHILLY. I SAW THAT LITTLE BOY LAYING IN THAT STORE .AND THERE WAS ANOTHER BOY SHOT SITTING BY A TREE ON 60TH ST I THINK HE WAS SHOT IN THE BUTTOX. WHAT MADE ME STOP WAS A LADDY SCREAMING AT ATHE STORE DOORWAY SHE ASKED ME IS HE DEAD I SAID I THINK SO. I THINK SHE WAS THE GRAND MOTHER. I WAS NO MORE GOOD THE REST OF THAT MONTH THAT MADE ME VERY ANGRY. MT BOYS WERE ABOUT MARCUS YATES AGE AT THAT TIME. ONE OF MT BOYS GOT CAUGHT IN A SHOOTOUT AT THE SALT AND PEPPER DELI ABOUT A YEAR AFTER MARCUS,A MAN IN THE STORE JUMPED ON TOP OF MY SON TO KEEP HIM FROM GETTING SHOT.I STILL LOVE PHILLY AND VISIT EVERY YEAR BUTT I COULD NOT LIVE THERE ANY MORE . IT IS STILL DANGEROUS IN PHILLY.”

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2. Malcolm Yates said... on Mar 25, 2010 at 09:32AM

“Jim,

I was that boy on the tree.. email me sometimes
mjy12@hotmail.com”

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3. Rochelle Yates said... on Nov 3, 2011 at 05:18AM

“I am Marcus' mother: please email me at psalms27rw@yahoo.com. I need closure because I was at work at the time. I know you can answer many of my questions.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Feb 6, 2014 at 07:24PM

“HI MISS YATES. ME AND MY SISTER USE TO PLAY WITH YOUR SON ON 60TH AND TRINITY ST. THAT SAME MY SISTER WAS TOLD TO STAY IN THE HOUSE BECAUSE WE HAD HOUSE WORK TO DO. BUT MY SISTER DID NOT LISTEN. JUST BEFORE THE SHOOTING. MY SISTER AND YOUR SON WAS GOING TO THAT STORE TOGETHER TO PLAY THE GAMES AND GET SOME CANDY. MY MOTHER TOLD HER NO SO SHE DID NOT GO. YOUR SON COULD NOT WAIT NO LONGER SO HE WHEN ON. TELL THIS DAY I WISH MY MOTHER WOULD HAVE TOLD HIM TO STAY AND WAIT. WHEN WE HEARD THE GUN SHOOTS ECHO FROM AFAR. ALL I COULD DO WAS PRAY. MY MOTHER RAN AROUND THE CORNER TO SEE WHAT HAD HAPPEN. THEN I FOLLOWED. GOT PASS THE SUPERMARKET. MY YOUNGER SISTER WAS COMING OUT OF THE SUPERMARKET. AND I LOOKED DOWN THE STREET ON TO THE STORE. AND OMG ALL COULD THANK OF AND SAY TO MY MOM MARCUS WENT TO THAT STORE. MISS YATES I AM NOW 36 YEARS OLD AS OF TODAY I HUGE MY KIDS AND TELL THEM I LOVE THEM. WHAT I SEEN ON THAT DAY STEAL HURTS MY HEART AS WE SPEAK. I WAS THANKING ABOUT HIM IN YOU.”

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