The Germantown Info Hub recently held a community gathering titled “Behind the Headlines: Covering Gun Violence.”
The meeting included Germantown residents, neighborhood activists, and journalists at The People’s Education Center on Germantown Avenue, to discuss gun violence in the area.
The Germantown Info Hub is a community journalism project that seeks to share information and stories of and for Germantown residents.
“Our goal at the info hub is to serve as a connector to facilitate discussions among community members among journalist and to make that connection so journalist and community members are speaking with each other,” said Letrell Crittenden, Co-Researcher for the Germantown Info Hub. “This was a perfect opportunity because gun violence is a significant issue in the summer.”
Some residents who lost relatives to gun violence were also in attendance and spoke on what’s missing in crime stories that cover community violence.
“When stories aren’t covered properly, it makes people that don’t know someone like my brother believe what’s written in the sorry versus what family members are saying about their loved ones,” said Aja King.
King lost her brother, Emir Greene, to gun violence 22 years ago in Germantown. Since then, the Emir Healing Center was founded to assist families of murder victims. King serves as the Community Coordinator for the organization.
“My brother was amazing, he was a protector, a provider, a father, he was funny, and an artist,” King said. “He was the best brother. I could call him at any time.”
She stated all her brother wanted was the American dream.
“My nephew was the only son and eldest son to my youngest sister,” said Carolyn Terry, a long-time Germantown resident, who lost her nephew to gun violence 10 years ago. “He was funny, very protective of his siblings and family in general. He was raised the old fashion way. If there was a woman on the bus who needed a seat, he would get up for them.
“One bit of information that would have been helped is if someone followed-up, on the night my nephew was murdered they would’ve known that men in the neighborhood surrounded my sisters home and they made sure she and the family were safe,” Terry noted on the coverage of her nephew’s murder.
Attendees spoke about the causes of gun violence such as promoting public health issues, structural community issues, and the lack of mentoring opportunities in the community for Black men.
“Many times the story that gets reported is what occurred at that time, not the trauma that may have lead to that situation,” said Derrick Cain, Community Engagement Editor at Resolve Philadelphia. “The trauma of what the shooter or the victim might have been going through in their life to cause that situation to happen. Now days, the focus should be about the bigger picture — the bigger picture is the trauma that’s going on in impoverished areas.”
Cain believes the focus should be on helping young children deal with their issues at a young age to help them cope with trauma.
“This is something that has to be dealt with over time,” he said. “It has to be a continuing story over and over again to constantly put that into the community.”