Less than a day after a 7-year-old boy was shot in the 200 block of Armstrong Street on Wednesday evening, a peace walk was held in East Germantown on Thursday.
In the parking lot of a beauty supply store and wine outlet, police officers, chaplains, and captains blocked off an area for some 50 community members to join hands in prayer. State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, City Councilmember Cindy Bass, and local religious leaders walked as well.
The walk was led by 14th District police officers blocking off the road. Between singing and prayers, the group began at Germantown Avenue and Wister Street and continued around several blocks. Even though the temperature was past 90 degrees, community members like Donna Clement Jackson came anyway.
“We just got to get out here to let the people know that there is hope, and there are organizations and people that are out here for you to try to help you,” she said as she walked and recorded the proceedings on her phone. “A little boy just got shot — amen, he’s okay — but this is happening way too many times in our community,” she added. “We just came out here today with the clergy, police department, elected officials, and more importantly, regular people that just are tired.”
Prayers from local police chaplains echoed the same sentiments as Ms. Jackson — frustration and fatigue. As the walk wrapped its way around several blocks, some curious residents like Dale Jasper opened their windows or came out on their porches to watch. Even though a prayer walk won’t solve gun violence alone, Jasper said, the community benefits from similar events.
“All the programs. It’s a constant call that we have to back up and reanalyze how we live,” he said, gesturing to the peace walk group. “So it’s necessary — if they are not here, if no one’s calling it — [violence will] spiral even more out of control.”
“I agree with what they’re doing,” Jasper added. “It might seem like it has little effect, but someone’s got to keep [saying] ‘wait a minute, something’s wrong here.’”
The next prayer walks are set for each month as part of the “Third Thursdays” initiative that gathers politicians, law enforcement, and community groups together to combat gun violence.
Sam Searles is a Report for America corps member covering gun violence and prevention for WHYY News.
If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources here.