National effort to confront black-on-black violence

Posted: October 27, 2012

Antiviolence activists banded together at the Convention Center Friday during the first of a three-day conference addressing black-on-black crime across the country.

The inaugural event is titled "Call to Action: National Conference on Black on Black Violence," It is presented by the Father's Day Rally Committee, and on Friday brought together organizations and individuals from around the U.S.

Philadelphia activist Bilal Qayyum, conference chair and president of the Father's Day Rally Committee, outlined three goals:

Sound the call to start a national movement toward combating black-on-black violence, breaking the problem into its component issues;

Identify best practices in other cities;

Develop a national antiviolence network of organizations to apply solutions.

"We take this issue very, very seriously here in Philadelphia," said Mayor Nutter in his opening remarks. "It rips out the heart and soul of what a community is all about."

Fourth District City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., spoke at the conference about the difficulties of reacting to violence in his role.

"I think the hardest part of my job, without the fear of successful contradiction, is hearing these words, 'Oh my God, they've killed my son,'" Jones said, "There's no textbook answer to that."

Jones pointed out that he is the chairman of Council's Committee on Public Safety, and "I don't feel safe."

The conference's first day featured a nine-member panel discussion that included pastors, community activists and educators from cities including Seattle, New Orleans and Chicago.

Qayyum presented the first-annual Kathy McNeil Battle Hero Award to Victoria Greene and Chantay Love, who run Every Murder is Real, a nonprofit victim outreach organization based in Germantown.

The award is in honor of the late Philadelphia Police Officer Kathy Battle who worked with homicide victims' families before she died of cancer in September.

Saturday's event features group sessions on family, values and culture, education, criminal justice, media and communications, economic development, youth and trauma, healing and mental health. The conference will conclude Sunday with a plan toward creating a national network to fight violence.

Qayyum said he expects 15 to 20 cities to be represented at the conference.


Contact Sean Carlin at carlins@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.

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