Showdown on Hurley Street

Events on what may be the city's worst block provide a stark glimpse into a Philly many Philadelphians never see. One former resident survived to tell the tale.

By Jeff Deeney
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 11 | Posted Aug. 22, 2007

Share this Story:

But he turns back, obsessed, unable to look away, probing with a Q-tip he pulls from his pocket. A daily diet of dust and Xanax will make anyone obsessive. And Shawn says she's seen 16-year-old Lamar with a gun.

The big Hurley Street blowout starts with a basketball game. Hakeem and Ramon are playing pickup with the other boys on the block at a portable hoop. They usually play at the McVeigh Rec Center at D and Ontario, but tonight they're convinced to compete at home. The Hurley Street regulars intend to humiliate Ramon and Hakeem in front of the whole block.

But instead Ramon and Hakeem make their opponents look bad in front of their girls and moms. Ramon and Hakeem grab their nuts while celebrating, oblivious to the flaring tempers around them.

Afterward Hakeem is upstairs playing video games with his 12-year-old cousin when there's banging on the front door. He opens it to find a 10-year-old boy from up the block claiming Hakeem's cousin hit him in the face. Hakeem tells the boy his cousin has been upstairs all afternoon, and shuts the door. Two minutes later there's more banging and another accusation of assault levied against the cousin. Again, Hakeem shuts the door.

This happens three more times until Hakeem is out in the street stepping to the little kid and his friends. Hakeem is frustrated. His buttons are getting pushed. He's sick of his neighbors, and doesn't give a fuck anymore if escalating the situation isn't a smart thing to do.

Though he doesn't know it, Hakeem has become a marked man on the block. After he disappears back into the house the neighbors call for his head in response to his utter lack of respect.

More kids bang on his front door. They throw a basketball against the board that covers the house's shattered front window. Parents scream from the adjoining stoops, joining in the fracas.

Lamar appears. He has a gun, and he wants to make a statement. He sticks the gun in the ample space between the narrow board covering the front window and its frame. He has his whole hand inside the house, panning the gun across the living room. He wants Shawn to know this isn't a game.

Shawn hurries the kids into the basement. Ramon pulls out his cell phone.

At this point the details get sketchy.

Ramon calls his boy Spike. Spike carries a gun. Ramon tells Spike what's going on, and asks Spike to come get his back. Ramon fears for his family. Lamar doesn't fire the gun, but withdraws it from the window and backs away, satisfied with his taunt.

Shawn calls the cops. Shawn never calls the cops, and does so now only out of fear for the lives of her children. Within minutes there are two cruisers on the block.

For a moment things ebb. Shawn, Ramon, Hakeem and children leave the house.

They've decided to go to a relative's apartmentuntil things die down.

The cops are talking about Golden Girls reruns with the neighbors across the street, whom they know from previous calls.

The family slinks toward Allegheny Avenue, where Spike waits with his gun, offering protection from the mob that has formed behind Lamar.

Lamar tails them, calling for Hakeem's head.

The cops don't follow. They assume it's more of the same old Hurley Street bullshit. They let Shawn know this as she backs away and starts to walk.

A brawl breaks out on the corner of Hurley and Allegheny. Seven guys converge on Hakeem, swinging fists. Hakeem swings back, blindly throwing his arms. And just like that, it happens.

Prev| Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 |Next
Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend


Comments 1 - 11 of 11
Report Violation

1. Allegheny Resident said... on Jul 5, 2008 at 10:16AM

“I live around Front & Allegheny and I can let any reader know that the 25th police district although they try very hard to keep the peace... They have the worst district in the city now. From anywhere near K&A (Kensington & Allegheny) all the way to 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and Allegheny all in between Allegheny and Tioga are danger havens. Every block is the same. Even mine. This is what we live. The city needs to help us...”

Report Violation

2. Allegheny Resident said... on Jul 5, 2008 at 11:15AM

“I live around Front & Allegheny and I can let any reader know that the 25th police district although they try very hard to keep the peace... They have the worst district in the city now. From anywhere near K&A (Kensington & Allegheny) all the way to 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and Allegheny all in between Allegheny and Tioga are danger havens. Every block is the same. Even mine. This is what we live. The city needs to help us... ”

Report Violation

3. otters21 said... on Jan 2, 2009 at 11:38AM

“What a heartbreaking shame.This block and many others around it used to lovely with solid hardworking families living in the neighborhood. Crime was almost unheard of until the early to mid 90s. People took pride of their block and kept it almost spotless. Now its just another victim of the evil cancer known as white flight and the decent manufacturing jobs drying up in the area.”

Report Violation

4. 3221 said... on Dec 30, 2010 at 12:00PM

“I lived on Hurley Street in the late 60's to mid 70's. It was a great "Philly" street. Hardworking families that cared for their neighbors. My aunt, grandmother and other cousins lived on the same block. Elderly ladies would scrub their stoop every week. It was home and it was a great place to grow up. After reading about Hurley Street, I am disgusted by what has happened to my old neighborhood. What a shame!”

Report Violation

5. 3222 said... on May 3, 2011 at 01:05PM

“Ahh, nice to see the old block doing so well. I was lucky only to be there a few years after it went into its downward spiral and get out of there in 97. I had so many great memories growing up there, playing stick ball at the end of the block and freedom with all the other kids. Too bad it went down so quickly, but I'm glad to be out of there.”

Report Violation

6. Steve Lee said... on Dec 7, 2012 at 11:59AM

“This is a shame, brings tears to my eyes! I grew up on 3200 D street, 1969-1985 when I left for the USAF. When I was young, I LIVED on the 3200 block of Hurley street, all day every day. Was a decent neighborhood back then. I could probably name 20 people I grew up with that lived on that block, many I still stay in touch with. Don't know what else to say, people have ruined that block and ruined the neighborhood.”

Report Violation

7. Anonymous said... on Mar 20, 2013 at 10:18AM

“All these years later, this story still brings chills. I learned the story as it unfolded, wrenching details hour by hour. It is incredibly hard for low income families to find decent and affordable housing in Philadelphia, and it is seldom in a safe and beautiful neighborhood. The comments about the story are a powerful message: it WAS a good neighborhood when there was economic opportunity; poverty is evil: it is not a definition of any person but it is an indictment of the priorities of our government on all levels.”

Report Violation

8. Former Resident said... on Oct 23, 2013 at 11:11AM

“I remember reading this in 2007 and now again in 2013. I lived on the block from the 60's until the 80's. I never had a key to my front door. It was never locked as we never had any crime to speak of. Typical liberal rant from Anonymous blaming the government. We were just as poor in my time as now. Becoming enslaved to entitlements takes away respect for yourself and for others. Crime follows.”

Report Violation

9. lamar lewis said... on Aug 1, 2014 at 12:49AM

“Yeah it's me y'all up here saying shit but don't no shit talking about the block this and the block that. Bitches'.pussy I had that block poping every body love me every body so fuck y'all and this haft ass newspaper talking shit but don't no shit .an I'm still out here I'm around get at me”

Report Violation

10. Chris Schaeffer said... on Mar 18, 2015 at 05:19PM

“i lived on that street for the first 17 yrs of my life. First of all no one's mirror was ever taken off by a driver! That's because the people knew how to drive and they didn't drive on the curb either.
What is there to say? Everyone knows what that neighborhood was like back in the day, I lived at the Rec always something to do, and I can count the times fights broke out! It just didn't happen because we weren't ANIMALS LIKE THESE"PEOPLE" and it's an insult to everyone who ever lived there. They are less than animals I don't know how they live with themselves, oh yes I do really good drugs! I would like to buy the whole block and just set it on fire and start from scratch and these classless animals wouldn't put a foot on that street!”

Report Violation

11. Jeff said... on Mar 21, 2015 at 04:19PM

“So thats all thats all that happened, a new family moved in???”


(HTML and URLs prohibited)