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: 9 | Posted Aug. 22, 2007

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Gunshots.

The crowd peels away. Lamar's on the ground, shot twice in the back. The cops break away from their idle talk to scoop up Spike and Ramon.

Shawn, Hakeem and the children watch as they're driven off in the back of police cruisers before hightailing it to a relative's house.

Up next: retaliation.


With Shawn gone, the angry mob descends on her house. Lamar's younger brother kicks the back door off its hinges, then unlocks the front. Neighbors stream in. Furniture is upended, cushions torn open. Big holes are punched in the walls, revealing wooden slats behind the plaster. All the windows in the house are shattered, showering more glass on the sidewalk. The refrigerator is bashed in; its shelves dangle at odd angles. The doors to the new kitchen cabinets have been ripped off.

Upstairs, it's worse. Someone takes a sledgehammer to the toilet. Huge holes are put in the walls. A TV is thrown through a second-story window in the rear of the house, landing in a cascade of glass on top of the kiddie pool. The children's clothes follow. The computer Hakeem used to obsessively check his MySpace page gets carted out and relocated across the street.

The next morning the shooting is on the news.

No details are given about the buildup to the shooting or the carnage that ensued. Just another teenager shot on Allegheny Avenue. In the morning newspaper the story takes up all of 10 lines.

The following day Hurley Street is triumphant. The neighbors congratulate each other on Ramon's arrest and the house getting fucked up real proper. They still vow to hunt down Hakeem, who's hiding.

Shawn's landlord arrives on the scene to survey the damage, and is brought to tears by what he finds. During the night someone smeared shit over the living room walls.

The landlord can't process what he sees. His contractors board up every possible entrance to the house before they leave. It doesn't really matter much. There's no more window glass to break, and nothing left in the house worth stealing.

Later that afternoon Hakeem and Shawn surreptitiously cruise the neighborhood. They stay off Hurley Street but get close enough. They've come to check on their mother's house, which is nearby. They're worried the Hurley Street folks know where she lives. Shawn's mother's house is untouched. Shawn and Hakeem stay crouched low in their seats, worried they might be spotted.

Soon afterward Shawn's landlord says he's suffering from depression. He calls on his faith, asking the Lord why evil people do what they do. He prays that Jesus will help him understand, and restore his hope for humanity.


Two weeks later Shawn wants to go back to Hurley to open the house up and claim what's left of her meager life.

There are two cruisers parked in front of the house when Shawn and Hakeem arrive. Crowds gather to watch. Mona is sitting two stoops down, having a sober moment. Her eyes are clear, their whites restored.

"I'll be off this block soon," she says. "I won't be around here too much longer."

She's not serving lunches today. There isn't even a cooler with ice and juice boxes.

She looks at the surrounding houses, and shakes her head.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 9 of 9
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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...”

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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... ”

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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.”

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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!”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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”

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