In an effort to save Black men from being victims of homicides, WURD broadcaster Solomon Jones, hosted a discussion forum with City Council members. The discussion was held at Christian Stronghold Baptist Church on Tuesday evening in West Philadelphia.
Jones is the founder and curator of #ManUpPHL, an anti-violence initiative aimed at ending gun violence among Black men.
Council members Curtis Jones Jr., Kenyatta Johnson, Derek Green, Jamie Gauthier, Isaiah Thomas, Allan Domb, Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Kendra Brooks mostly discussed issues surrounding gun violence.
“How do we address the issue of trauma?” Johnson asked. “By bringing experts to the table in community behavioral health. Resources, expertise and in-kind donations are tangible things that help our men to succeed.”
Jones presented a 12-week curriculum strategy to council members explaining how #ManUpPHL will provide resources and experienced professionals to combat issues that stem from gun violence.
“Anytime that you are dealing with ills that have plagued our community for generations, part of the solution has to be political,” he said. “We can do many things from a community level, but if we don’t have the backing of the people who control your resources, the people who pull the strings who make the laws, then we’ll be limited of what we’re able to achieve. It’s important for us to work with them for them to work with us because at the end of the day the resources they control belong to us.”
Jones held the forum the same week new Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw started her position. Outlaw was invited to the event but did not attend. Attendees questioned her absence.
“What we’re expecting of Outlaw, we should actually be demanding of our politicians, community leaders and other governing institutions,” said local journalist Ernest Owens on the expectations for Outlaw. “If we really think carefully about all of this, what we’re asking her to do could further escalate public distrust.”
Taj Murdock, CEO and director of T.E.A.M., attended the event to hear from council members what the next steps are and to find out how he can support #ManUpPHL.
“Most of our men of color only see life through the lens of what they see outside their door,” he said. “Our goal is to expose them to career, education and cultural opportunities. We understand that a lot of the mental health that we see, it starts young. When they experience trauma at a young age we help them to talk about feelings and emotions.”