PHILADELPHIA – On Sunday, September 17, during a nighttime anti-violence patrol in the neighborhood of A Street and Indiana Avenue, a group of committed volunteers with Operation Hug the Block was threatened as a result of their courageous work to prevent violence in Philadelphia. The threats, delivered during the group’s 1am Peace Patrol, were intended to intimidate volunteers into leaving the neighborhood. Instead of leaving, they remained in the area with the police officer who had been escorting the patrol. In response, twelve members of City Council denounced the threats against Operation Hug the Block and encouraged community leaders to join one of their upcoming Peace Patrols. Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At-Large), Curtis Jones (4th District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Sharon Vaughn (At-Large), Isaiah Thomas (At-Large), Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), Anthony Phillips (9th District), Mark Squilla (1st District), Quetcy Lozada (7th District), Mike Driscoll (6th District), and Cindy Bass (8th District) issued the following statement:
“We denounce the threats against the brave volunteers of Operation Hug the Block, and we call on all Philadelphia community and faith organizations to show their support by joining one of their upcoming Peace Patrols. The volunteers of Operation Hug the Block are primarily Black men, and they spend their nighttime hours in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence, offering the visible presence of people who care and creating a space for safety, camaraderie, and community on some of Philadelphia’s most devastated blocks.
“As City Councilmembers, we applaud the efforts of the Philly Truce Foundation and Stop Killing Us, the driving forces behind Operation Hug the Block. Their work is community-based violence prevention, grounded in the lived experiences of people most impacted by gun violence and aimed at interrupting the hopelessness and apathy that have creeped into many of our communities. They are acting with the urgency that our gun violence crisis calls for and carrying forward a long tradition of Black, community-led violence prevention and mutual aid.
“We have committed to joining Operation Hug the Block for one of their upcoming Peace Patrols, and we encourage Philadelphia leaders of all kinds, from faith leaders and block captains to elected officials and leaders of community organizations, to do the same. Our commitment to anti-violence must extend beyond words. Now is the time to take action to show the brave volunteers of Operation Hug the Block that they are not alone and to support their efforts to prevent violence in our communities.”
Operation Hug the Block is a collaborative effort of the Philly Truce Foundation and Stop Killing Us. To join one of the Peace Patrols scheduled in neighborhoods across the city between now and November 6th, individuals and organizations can reach out to:
- Mazzie Casher, Executive Director of Philly Truce, at [email protected]
- Jamal Johnson, Founder of Stop Killing Us, at [email protected]