A three-mile long human chain will stretch across West Philadelphia later this month to spread awareness of gun violence. The group Hands Across Philadelphia says it’s forming the chain to seeks solutions to violence and stand in solidarity with victims’ families.
Addressing a small crowd outside of a Shoprite, State Rep. Vanessa Lowry Brown described the event as a chance to heal.
“Often we have folks who are sitting at home and are just looking for a way to fix it. And we are giving our community a vehicle that all they have to do is just come out and touch one another and…start a process of healing,” Brown said.
As part of her legislative goals, Brown emphasized job creation as an important tool to keep young people out of trouble.
“Too many children between the ages of 16 and 24 are sitting on the corner. If a child is working, he or she doesn’t have time to pick up a gun. They don’t have time to be on Facebook gossiping, worried about what somebody said about them.”
Cheri Ryans, of the group Mothers in Charge will be there on behalf of her son who died in a shooting. No one has been charged with his killing.
“Come out on Saturday and hold somebody’s hand,” pleaded Ryans.” You might hold the hand of a person who has not lost a son, and they can feel your pain. And you can hold the hand of someone who has lost a child and you can feel their pain too. We can do something.”
Small business owners Kenny and Carlette Brooks were the first to contact the local chapter of the NAACP to organize the event three years ago. Speaking to parents who have lost children to gun violence, Carlette Brooks said the problem goes beyond individual victims.
“My heart goes out to your pain. We need to sit together and unite… and ask everybody to please come out. This is not a black thing. This hits everybody’s homes; black, white, Hispanic, Asian. No one is standing up for our children. They are dying. And the person [who] has the gun is a victim as well.”
The event will begin at noon on September 28th and run along 52nd Street between Woodland and Parkside Avenue.