African-American leaders call for cease-fire on Philadelphia streets

African-American leaders are calling for an end to violence in the city. Mel Wells, who runs the same group One Day at a Time, said generations of men are being killed. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

African-American leaders are calling for an end to violence in the city. Mel Wells, who runs the same group One Day at a Time, said generations of men are being killed. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

African-American leaders in Philadelphia are urging people to surrender their weapons and stop the violence in the streets.

Condemning black-on-black violence, groups representing black men throughout the city gathered on a street corner where a young man was shot to death last week.

(Tom MacDonale/WHYY)

Mel Wells, who followed in his father’s footsteps to run the same group One Day at a Time, said generations of men are being lost.

“We need to come together as a people,” he said. “First, we have to admit that we have a problem, then we can come out to the masses, and then go to the state and City Hall and say we need this type of funding, we need this type of law changed.”

Terry Starks, who was shot years ago, runs a community group in North Central Philadelphia.  Without jobs or positive things to draw residents outside, they hide in their homes, he said.

“It’s just lack of community engagement, and you know families are dying because nobody’s out, nobody’s communicating with each other,” he said. “It’s our job to try to pull everybody together.”

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams lives two blocks from the street where a young man was shot and killed.  That man’s brother was also killed by gunfire.  Williams joined the groups to urge people to talk it out, not shoot it out.

“There’s too many weapons on the street, too many illegal guns.  If you have an illegal gun get rid of it, turn it in — we do gun buyback programs,” Williams said.  “We tell people to report your guns if they are lost or stolen, because if someone breaks into your house, they are going to steal those guns, and they will be out on the street.”

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