For Michael Cogbill, getting engaged in the electoral process is the best way an individual can help to eliminate community violence.
Cogbill, a resident of the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, was one of many that attended WURD’s Transmit Transform event held at Bartram’s Garden highlighting the documentary “Quest” about life in North Philadelphia.
“I think we have to show up to the polls, I think we have to vote,” Cogbill said. “There are so many things that we can do, but I think kind of getting engaged with the electoral process is first because as long as we have access to firearms and not decent education, we’ll have problems.”
Cogbill added that oftentimes when he is on his way to work, he sees a lot of young men on street corners with nothing really to do.
WHYY, in a partnership with WURD, interviewed Cogbill and other attendees to share their thoughts and opinions on the growing issue of violence in urban communities. Both organizations are involved with Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting effort focusing on poverty and a push for economic justice in the region.
Natasha Cunningham grew up in West Philadelphia. Her brother lost two friends in a span of a week to gun violence. She has since moved out of the city to get her children out of that environment.
“As individuals, to reduce or eliminate violence, we need to be a voice, we need to educate our youth, we need to educate our families,” Cunningham said. “I think we need to find ways to eliminate poverty, and just have open conversation.”
One of the last interviews of the event was Colwin Williams.
Williams served almost 20 years in prison. After returning to the community, he’s been a part of advocacy groups such as Philadelphia Ceasefire to limit gun violence. He said that incarcerating people has not worked and will only continue to fail.
“There’s no way in the world you can police your way out of this situation,” Williams said. “The responsibility must be at home. And that’s why we have a generation as we see it now with no moral principles and standards when it comes down to human life.”