Friday, September 01, 2006

Hey Mayor, Do Something

Philadelphia Daily News excoriates Mayor Street.

A few months ago, I called the office of Mayor Street to find out why he hadn't attended the funeral of a high-profile murder victim.

It's a commentary unto itself that I don't remember which high-profile slaying it was. But I do remember what an associate of the mayor told me - off the record, of course:

He said the mayor was working on the crime issue behind the scenes every day. He said if the mayor attended the funeral of one murder victim, then he'd have to attend the funeral of every murder victim, or risk suggesting that one life was more valuable than another.

Sure, John Street is doing a number of things about crime. But I'll tell you what he isn't doing.

He isn't communicating any sense of urgency about the crisis that's overshadowing everything else in the city.

He isn't showing the kind of righteous indignation that provoked the mayor of Washington, D.C., for instance, into calling a special summer session of the city council to pass emergency crime legislation.

He isn't beseeching neighborhoods, bullying businesses or nagging nonprofits day in and day out to pitch in to find solutions.

He isn't pouring every available penny into hiring more cops.

He apparently isn't searching for an energetic, aggressive police commissioner to replace Sylvester Johnson, the well-meaning but weary veteran who he spends his time second-guessing.

In other words, John Street is still having "a great day" - his trademark phrase - when the city is under siege.

Maybe he wouldn't be so tickled if he spent more of his days at the funerals of the city's murder victims.

Maybe then he'd respond to the crisis with the sense of urgency and dramatic intervention that it demands.

Daily News: Simply Sickening

Philadelphia Daily News details rape inspired homicide.

It all started with a creepy stare from a stranger.

An 18-year-old woman waiting at a Fern Rock bus stop late Wednesday got nervous enough about that leer that she fled across the street.

But the thug followed, and within minutes, a tragedy exploded that left two Good Samaritans in the morgue, the teenager in the hospital, a murderous rapist in jail and three shattered families in agonizing heartache.

Inquirer: Safe From Iraq, Dead On Our Streets

Philadelphia Inquirer reports ex-soldier’s slaying.

A 22-year-old Philadelphia man who went from soldier to student and hoped to perhaps teach one day was shot to death early yesterday while riding home on his bicycle in the city's Strawberry Mansion section.

L'Salle Harvey III had taken out a small amount of cash from an automated teller machine at 29th and Dauphin Streets. He was targeted by a robber or robbers at 31st and Nevada Streets, police said, apparently while bicycling home.

His stepmother, Maude Harvey, said he often would go out late at night to pick up a snack.

Daily News: "I Would Have Felt Better If He Had Been Killed In Iraq"

Philadelphia Daily News depicts L'salle Harvey.

L'salle Harvey was willing to risk his life fighting in a carnage-filled country where the streets always seem to be stained with blood.

But Harvey, 22, lucked out during his two-year stint in the Army and was never sent overseas to fight in Iraq.

Instead, the aspiring teacher was killed early yesterday in Strawberry Mansion.

"God blessed me not to have had him go over to Iraq," said Harvey's grief-stricken mother, Gwen, last night. "But I don't know if I would have rathered him give his life for his country, rather than lose it to our streets."

Harvey joined the Army in 2002 "because he wanted to make us proud," his mother said. He was honorably discharged in 2004 due to injuries he received in training at Fort Stewart, in Georgia.

Last year, Harvey began taking classes at the University of Pennsylvania's Veterans Upward Bound Program. The program helps vets prepare for college and ultimately get their degrees.

"He wanted to be a teacher. He was trying to better his life," Angel said of his younger brother. "I can't let this rest."

Daily News: Mothers, Children, Brothers, Sisters Torn Apart

Philadelphia Daily News narrates catastrophic night.

At 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, the carnage began.

A half-hour later, across town in East Falls, a routine police traffic stop turned bloody.

About the time of the East Falls shooting, police said, Kevin White, 28, dragged an 18-year-old woman into an alley near 10th Street and Olney Avenue and sexually assaulted her. Then, cops said, he shot and wounded the unidentified rape victim and then fatally shot a man and woman who happened upon the attack.

About the same time, on 50th Street and Hazel Avenue in West Philadelphia, Raphael Calhoun, 30, used his brother's .45 handgun to shoot his 19-year-old neighbor in the arm during a fight, police said.

Then in Point Breeze, shortly after midnight yesterday, a gunman shot an unidentified 18-year-old in the back near 23rd and Reed streets, police said. The man was taken to HUP and was listed in critical condition yesterday.

At about 2:15 a.m., two rival groups began shooting at one another on Osage Avenue near 55th. A 26-year-old corrections officer was caught in the crossfire and struck in the buttocks, said Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives. A 19-year-old was shot in the leg. Both men were taken to HUP and were listed in stable condition. Neither man was identified.

Then, at 3:10 a.m. police said they received word of a man lying on the pavement next to his bicycle on Nevada Street near 31st in Strawberry Mansion.

The final violent incident of the pre-dawn hours occurred in Hunting Park. Police said Jamar Downing, 24, shot a 22-year-old man in the chest on Rorer Street near Louden at 3:20 a.m. The unidentified man was in critical condition at Temple University Hospital.

Daily News: "We Have the Street Credibility"

Philadelphia Daily News profiles 21st & Westmoreland Inc.

Richard Johnson and Lloyd Harris know about youth violence and gang warfare.

Back in the 1960s and '70s, they were affiliated with a neighborhood gang around 21st and Westmoreland streets in North Philadelphia.

Harris even served time for a violent offense in the '70s. But these two "old-heads" also know the power of redemption.

They were able to reform themselves - and transform the name of their gang into 21st & Westmoreland Inc., a grass-roots initiative composed of 10 ex-gang members from that era.

"I think right now, as a people, we are in a crisis," said Johnson, president of 21st & Westmoreland Inc. which was formed in 2003.

"It goes to the 'Willie Lynch' syndrome, self-hatred, and young people's comfort with the use of the word n----."

Gun's The Word relates harrowing night.

Three people were dead and two more were in critical condition after at least eight shooting episodes overnight in Philadelphia.

The night of violence began around 10:15, when two girls, both 13, were struck in a leg by a stray bullet at 20th and Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia. They were treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

At 3:18 a.m., a man, 23, was found with two bullet wounds in the chest in the 4800 block of Rorer Street in Feltonville. He was also in critical condition.

You Must Start The Change

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

Our neighborhoods have to be taken back by us, the residents. I'm not foolish enough to say put yourself or family in harm's way, but there is something we can do.

If we don't let the little things go (crowds on corners daily, gambling on the street, etc.) those who are out to destroy our neighborhood will not be empowered to move on to bigger things (selling drugs on our corners, gambling arguments turning into shootouts, the loud radios, double-parked cars).

Start small, and we will all be able to see the positive differences.

I strongly believe that our black family is hurting due to the lack of male influence. The young men don't have anyone teach them how to be a man and the young ladies do not have anyone to show them how a real man treats a lady.

Child support is very important, but why aren't non-custodial parents ordered to spend time with their children as well? Both parents should take an active role in raising a child!

I was born and raised in North Philly and at the age of 39 have owned a home there for 12 years, with 18 years working for the government.

Lisa Odam, Philadelphia