Marla Davis Bellamy of Philadelphia CeaseFire discusses public health intervention tactics during a community meeting last week at the Calvary Center for Community & Culture in Southwest Philadelphia. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Jim MacMillan.
About 30 people came together Wednesday night for a gathering to discuss grassroots solutions to gun violence, one night after a quadruple shooting in the city’s Kensigton section and in the midst of the most violent week of 2013 in Philadelphia.
Davis Bellamy is the director of Philadelphia CeaseFire, an evidence-based public health violence intervention program based at the Temple University School of Medicine. The program treats violence as a disease utilizing data, credible messengers, and community mobilization strategies.
Joe Kaczmarek of the GunCrisis Reporting project photographed members of the Ceasefire team in Kensington last week.
Davis Bellamy said that workers from CeaseFire — based on a program now called Cure Violence — respond to shootings, establish relationships with victims, mediate community conflicts and saturate target areas with information.
During their first year of operation in Philadelphia’s 22nd Police District, homicides decreased by 21 percent and shooting were reduced by 11 percent, according to Davis Bellamy.
Thanks to recent funding, the program is now expanding to more sections of the city. The program is also now in use in Iraq and South Africa, Davis Bellamy said.
The Gun Crisis team spent an evening walking through sections of North Philadelphia and Strawberry Mansion last summer with Philadelphia CeaseFire.
Fred Kaufman of Heeding God’s Call also presented at the event last week. His group helps faith communities both to stand witness to gun violence and to pressure local gun stores into adopting practices that will deter straw purchasing.
Kaufman said that most guns recovered at Philadelphia crime scenes were purchased within 10 miles of the city and his group encourages gun store owners to adhere to a code of conduct for responsible firearms retailers sponsored by Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns.
The event was organized by Kol Tzedek Synagogue, West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, and Calvary United Methodist Church. All three congregations are part of POWER, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, an organization dedicated to opportunity and justice for Philadelphians.