The WHYY newsroom has partnered with the new Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting at Temple University to produce a podcast about the Philadelphia gun violence crisis.
“Stop and Frisk: Revisit or Resist” approaches gun violence through the lens of the police procedure in the title, which opponents say effectively enables officers to engage with a person with little or no reason to check their body or car for drugs or weapons.
“Right now, there’s so many young teenagers that’s walking around carrying guns, and that’s who’s committing most of the crimes,” said an unidentified woman at the meeting, heard in the podcast.
There was pushback, as well.
“Let me just warn you: you get what you ask for,” said Reuben Jones, an activist and director of Frontline Dads, who believes stop and frisk does more harm than good.
Jones took producers Sammy Caiola and Yvonne Latty to a block in North Philadelphia that has been identified by police as a gun violence hotspot. He wanted to show them that residents have alternative solutions to gun violence that do not involve racial profiling and the police brutality that can come from stop and frisk.
“These people can tell you what’s best for their lives,” Jones said. “It’s not a mythological Black unicorn. If we can get to the heart of those stories and humanize people, talk about how violence impacts them and the solutions they have to address it, then we start to change the narrative.”
“Stop and Frisk” is a five-part podcast; the first episode will be released Tuesday, Nov. 15, with subsequent episodes released weekly on Tuesdays. It will be accompanied by a website stocked with further reading and data related to gun violence and police work in Philadelphia.
As of Nov. 10, city data shows that Philadelphia has had 1,648 nonfatal and 428 fatal shootings this year, a 4% decrease from the record numbers of 2021. A vast majority of the victims were Black, 18-35 years old.
Caiola is a beat reporter with WHYY who has been covering gun violence since February. Latty is a former professor at the Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, who is now the founding director of the Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting at Temple, which started last summer.
“Yvonne and I had a lot of the same passions and ideas around how to cover this topic,” Caiola said. “We went for coffee and within 45 minutes we were, like, ‘Let’s make a podcast.’”
For Latty, producing a podcast gives her the opportunity to spend time in neighborhoods and build relationships, which she says creates more meaningful impacts on those communities than so-called “parachute” journalism when reporters only come during a crisis.
“Growing up, I saw a lot of parachuting reporters because I grew up in an underserved community in New York,” said Latty, who grew up in Harlem. “I know the way that feels. As a journalist, I’ve seen it time and time and time and time again. We have to realize it’s not working.”
Although stop and frisk is in the title of the podcast, Caiola says it acts as a jumping-off point to enter the complexities of urban gun violence at the levels of government policy, community, and individuals.
“Which brings us to the question of: What are the other solutions?,” she said. “Stop and frisk became this gateway into all of the many factors behind Philadelphia’s gun violence crisis and how we can move toward solving it.”
The first four episodes of the series will be chapters exploring Philadelphia gun violence from different angles. The fifth will be a round table discussion with community stakeholders, including activists, teenagers, a city official, and a mental health clinician.
“There is just so much passion in the room. So much passion,” said Latty immediately after they recorded the panel discussion. “People appreciate it when you listen to them. That’s one thing I’ve realized my entire career: there’s so much power in sitting with someone and just listening to them.”
“Stop and Frisk: Revisit and Resist” will be available Tuesday on all major podcast platforms.
Join the Logan Center at Klein College and WHYY at a launch reception for the “Stop and Frisk: Revisit or Resist” podcast on Monday, Nov. 14. Register online.
If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources online.