The forecast for Saturday May 8 revealed a 60% chance of rain. Inquiring texts overwhelmed organizers Mazzie Casher and Steve Pickens. In no sense of the word could they afford to reschedule. Philly Truce Day was a go.
PHILLY TRUCE Inc., the nonprofit behind the PHILLY TRUCE APP celebrated the first annual Philly Truce Day on May 8 in Nicetown Park, which is located at 4301 Germantown Avenue. Dubbed Philadelphia’s app for gun violence prevention, and launched just a week before, PHILLY TRUCE has been at the center of the media frenzy surrounding the city’s skyrocketing homicide numbers.
Casher and Pickens are proud to have hosted the first annual Philly Truce Day.
The official City of Philadelphia proclamation declaring May 8 Philly Truce Day was presented by local Councilmember Cindy Bass (D- 8th Dist.) and Kenyatta Johnson (D-2nd Dist.) who spearheaded the resolution. At-large council members Kendra Brooks, Helen Gym, Katherine Gilmore-Richardson, and Allan Domb came out to show their support as well.
The political cosign didn’t end at the level of city government. It also came from above in the form of U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans (D-3rd District ), District Attorney Larry Krasner, State Senator Sharif Street (D-3rd Dist.) and State Rep. Darisha Parker (D- 198th Dist.).
Despite the parade of politicians, some of whom muddled their support for Philly Truce with stump speeches, the first cohort of PHILLY TRUCE APP mediators stole the show. The volunteers who successfully completed the 8-week process number close to two dozen.
“The weather forecast may have hurt overall attendance, but the sky definitely held up for our volunteers,” said Casher, co-creator of the app along with Pickens.
More in line with the Philly Truce Day approach to gun violence prevention, support came from the people. Life coaches Will Latif Little and Clarence Qaadir Hatton shared their story of a life-altering truce.
Little spent ten years in prison for the murder of Hatton’s brother. Originally set on avenging his brother’s death, Hatton forgave Little, and the pair now share their story as they did on Philly Truce Day, inviting the audience to chant “forgiveness is freedom.”
Movita Johnson-Harrell closed the ceremony with her riveting personal experience as a “five-time co-victim of homicide,” former Pa. State Rep who “brought back $1.6M from Harrisburg for Gun Violence Intervention(GVI),” and a prayer stating that Casher and Pickens have stumbled upon a major component of the comprehensive solutions package that she has spent years lobbying for. Members of the graduating class wept as the event organizers and app co-creators presented the keynote speaker with a bouquet of flowers and honorary Philly Truce Mediator certificate for Mother’s Day.
DBHIDS, CBH, Gaudenzia and other service providers took part in the concurrent resource fair. They provided literature and on-site mental health screenings. Volunteers from Community Empowerment Group manned the grocery giveaway sponsored by The Charles Foundation. That organization is named for one of the sons Movita Johson-Harrell has lost to homicide.
It wasn’t until the grill got going and the music got good that the first drops of rain joined the party in the park for peace. It drizzled just long enough to make the DJ pack up. Anyone who’s ever been to a party knows the DJ is the last to go home. It was only about 2:00 pm but the friends and volunteers remained past 4pm. The event was scheduled to go until 7, with live performances and a film screening. Still, the day had been won already. One to nothing — Philly Truce.
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