Philadelphia: A City in Action

Soul music, cheese steaks, and the Eagles are a few things that may come to mind when someone thinks of the city of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, when it is noted that Philadelphia’s nickname is the “City of Brotherly Love,” an outsider might assume that the title is either a joke or a misnomer. You can point to the cold reception given to visiting teams or the raucous nature of the stands at Lincoln Financial Field. Though verbal jabs about Philadelphia fans are usually jovial in nature, there is a much more serious issue that is plaguing the city’s status as one of brotherly love.

As the national debate over gun control rages and presidential candidates volley for the perfect sound bite, the city of Philadelphia is facing a continued surge in violent crimes and homicides. There have been over 300 murders as of early October, and the deadly trend is showing little sign of slowing its pace. City officials and community members have struggled to curtail the violence and ascertain its origins, with some attributing it to a growth in the number of illegal weapons and heightened poverty rates.

The Problem:

The strain felt by Philadelphia’s beleaguered citizens is part of a much larger trend of an increase in violent crime over the past several years. An FBI report that was released in June 2007 analyzed murder rates in the ten largest cities and noted that Philadelphia had the highest murder rate in 2006. The flood of violence has had a disproportionate affect on Philadelphia’s African-American community.

The Solution:

Local community leaders have vowed to take action and involve Philadelphians in the effort to fight the recent waves of violence. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, movie producer Charles “Charlie Mack” Alston, famed songwriter Kenneth Gamble, and the Philadelphia Millions More Movement have joined forces to launch the “Call to Action: 10,000 MEN: It’s A New Day in Philadelphia.” Through a series of small rallies (dates available on their website:, the “Call to Action” plans to register 10,000 men to attend the main event on October 21, 2007. Volunteers will later go through orientation programs to learn ways to help keep their communities safe.

Will It Work?

The success of grassroots activism depends on several factors, including how well the group connects with the community, the presence of a long-term commitment to assist with a resolution, and the infrastructure of the organization. By rooting the event in the local African-American community, the organizers of the “Call to Action” have provided an opportunity for those who are most affected by the violence to become involved in the solution. In order to establish a connection between volunteers and their patrol area, volunteers will be assigned to the general area in which they live.