PHILADELPHIA (FinalCall.com) – In a move that is unprecedented, a coalition of media, civic, community leaders and law enforcement are calling for 10,000 Black men to step forward, take control of their neighborhoods and keep the peace.
The effort is being dubbed “A Call to Action: 10,000 Men–It’s a New Day,” and it is a response to the mayhem occurring daily on the streets of urban Philadelphia where the murder rate is approaching 300. The call was made during a press conference held on Sept. 14 is an ambitious project, which will place groups of volunteers in selected areas of the city as a visible presence to help deter violence.
One of the principal organizers of the effort is Dennis Muhammad, founder of ENOTA (Educating Neighborhoods to Obey Those in Authority) Project, Inc. In an exclusive interview with The Final Call, Bro. Dennis detailed how he, in concert with entertainment promoter Charlie Mack, met with Mayor John Street and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson last year to discuss the idea. According to Bro. Dennis, the program represents community organization at its best. It will officially begin on Oct. 21 with a recruitment drive, which will take place at Temple Universities Liacoruras Center. Bro. Dennis pointed out that the recruitment would be followed by extensive training of the men in conflict resolution and to become peacekeepers in the neighborhood. “The men will not be confrontational, but rather will represent a clean glass next to a dirty glass,” he said.
Police Commissioner Johnson told The Final Call that he has met with Bro. Dennis and Mr. Mack as well as stakeholders Kenny Gamble, music mogul, and radio personality E. Steven Collins of Radio One in recent months on ways to address the violence. “We need a holistic approach and this imitative fits right along those lines,” he said. “This is not a police initiative rather it is a community initiative,” he pointed out. “In the Black community we have had 10,000 Black men over the last 10 years killed, and over 2,000 Black men shot and wounded so far this year. It’s time for our men to stand up because it’s our fathers and sons and cousins who are being killed. We expect this initiative to be grand success.”
Many critics in the community view this as an act of desperation from an embattled commissioner who has faced mounting criticism for not dealing more effectively with the cities mounting homicide problem. At Final Call press time, 295 homicides have occurred in the city–most of who are Black males.
Included in the coalition effort are the Millions More Movement, Men United for a Better Philadelphia and Mothers In Charge. Clergy include Bro. Rodney Muhammad, head of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 12, and Rev. Robert Shine, former president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
Bro. Rodney said, “Out of the spirit of the Million Man March, we want to call a large number of men together to revisit the pledge we took on the mall in Washington, D.C. The idea is to bring men back and recommit them, but this time, organize them and train them as a peacekeeping force to go back in our communities and be a force for good.” Bro. Rodney instructed that anyone interested in joining the effort could pre-register at www.10000menphilly.com.
Bro. Dennis said the peacekeeper patrols would take place every day for two or three hours for 90 days in specially targeted areas. The goal will be a measurable decrease in crime.
Mr. Mack, the principal organizer, in a statement issued to the press said, “It’s long past time for Black men to stand up and meet their obligations and responsibilities to protect their women and children and elders. To do any less is cowardice.”