Community rallies for peace
Following the shooting that left 11-year-old Kashie Crawford in critical condition, the Cecil B. Moore community around Temple University united with Rep. Curtis Thomas to demand a stop to violence.
Last week, 11-year-old Kashie Crawford was out playing basketball on a warm, Sunday afternoon with neighborhood friends on Gratz Street near Temple University when the boys were caught in the crossfire of a shootout. Crawford was hit by a bullet in the back and rushed to Temple Hospital in critical condition. The suspects have since been identified, and one was taken into custody on Friday.
The violence sparked outrage from community members and State Rep. Curtis Thomas, originally from the area though not a representative of it, who called for a rally on Friday to demand a stop to the violence plaguing families in the neighborhood. Children, parents and local activists came together to encourage each other to look out for one another and stand up against disruptive forces in the neighborhood.
"The responsibility is with us to step up to the plate and to make sure this conduct is non-negotiable and unacceptable," Thomas told the crowd. "We can have a community where people can work, live and worship in peace. We can have a community where these babies can grow up and achieve their full potential without having to worry about living or dying."
Thomas called for local development agencies to host a town hall meeting, for security and police from Philadelphia Housing Authority, Temple University and the School District of Philadelphia to look out for children coming and going to school, for more community centers to provide after-school activities for children, and for more job training centers and economic opportunities.
"There's no place in this decent, hardworking community for folks who want to act like a fool," Thomas said.
Crawford was shot just a week after a series of attacks against Temple University students in the same area.
Last month, a Temple student and her friend were walking home when a group of teenagers assaulted the student, a 15-year-old hitting her so hard in the face with a brick that she checked into an emergency room. Police have since arrested the girls, who were as young as 14, and face $75,000 bail and being tried as adults. Other reports of attacks against students by teens on the same day concerned the university and surrounding community.
Although the group of teens weren't from the area, the university responded to the attack by advising students to, "not engage in conversations with strangers." According to an article by a Temple student following the events, the university's reaction further encouraged tension between long-term residents and temporary student residents by implying that students living off-campus should be wary of their neighbors, and that the role of university police was to protect students from the community rather than to ensure that streets are safe for everyone.
The recent influx of highly-visible violent incidents in the media around the Temple area runs counter to an overall drop in crime (between Oxford and Susquehanna Avenues, and 10th and 23rd Streets). The area's average crime rate from 2013, 16.5 crimes per 1,000 residents, is similar to the average crime rate in Center City (between Vine and Walnut Street, and 10th and 20th Streets) at 16.2 crimes per 1,000 residents.