"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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Yet juvenile crime remains on the rise.

"Most often the No. 1 topic in our meetings is violence," says Janne Ayers, 15, president of the local NAACP Youth Council. "There's a lot of frustration."

Last year in Philadelphia 880 young people (ages 7 to 24) were wounded by gunshots. That's 131 more than the year before.

The number of juveniles arrested for drug-related offenses has increased 80 percent in the last seven years.

Violent crimes against juveniles have also increased significantly.

Our children are growing up believing that murder is the natural way of life.


Since Faheem Thomas-Childs was murdered in February, I've talked to a lot of young black kids about their reality in this city.

Many echo stories of drugs, poverty and blight. But unlike when I was growing up, kids today are exposed to a world of glamorized violence through an onslaught on television, film, music and video games. They're growing up seeing memorials right outside their door.

"This corner is bad luck right here," says Andrew James, a recent high school graduate who lives on a narrow block of well-kept houses in Strawberry Mansion.

As he talks to me, he's standing in an underworld of empty lots, trash-strewn streets, abandoned buildings and blood-stained corners, all just a few blocks from his home.

He tells me that four people were killed on this corner in the last couple years. His good friend C Jay was gunned down here last July in a turf war between rival gangs after walking his girlfriend home late one night. He was 17.

In his neighborhood, Andrew is one of the good kids. He once hawked bottled water on the street and now sells a documentary on violence he made at Straw-berry Mansion High to earn extra money for film school.

In his West Philadelphia neighborhood, Trae Pate, 17, has seen people robbed at gunpoint, drugs being sold on the street, people getting shot. Sometimes he dreams that he's been killed by a single wanton bullet.

Recently a young man was shot and killed a few blocks from Trae's house while gambling on the corner.

"The younger generation is using guns more because it's like they have no care for life," says Trae. "It's like, they in the 'hood and they can't get out, so ... "


The stories are different, but the sound is the same.

Travis Wilcox of Overbrook Park remembers days when his mother would gather up the household bills and all the money she had, and together they would ask God to make a way.

Travis' father was gone--addicted to crack. Sometimes his mother would cry under the weight of raising Travis and his brother alone.

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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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