These Philadelphians Created an App to Prevent Gun Violence

1 year ago 225

On a warm afternoon, 2 16-year-old boys from North Philadelphia signed a contract. By etching their names onto a portion of paper, they made a committedness to telephone a truce.

In the months starring up to this moment, the teens had been dueling. Messages darted backmost and distant betwixt their phones, their societal media inboxes crowded with threats. Eventually, the 2 encountered each different astatine a adjacent Six Flags. There, 1 lad raised a hostile warning: Next time, helium would bring a gun.

When Alisha Corley, 1 of the boys' mothers, learned astir the confrontation, she panicked. It had lone been 16 years since she tragically mislaid her 5-year-old girl to the slug of a firearm.

For families similar Corley’s successful North Philly, weapon unit is an mundane portion of life. In a sense, the metropolis serves arsenic a microcosm of a larger-scale nationalist wellness crisis. As of September, 14,516 radical successful the U.S. person mislaid their lives to guns this year, putting 2021 connected way to beryllium the deadliest successful decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young Black men and teens are 20 times much likely than their achromatic counterparts to dice by firearm.

Desperate to support her lad from becoming a statistic, Corley searched for a mode to support him. She landed connected Philly Truce, an app for iOS and Android that allows Philadelphians successful situation to property a “get help” button. By doing so, users are connected to trained mediators who supply an array of services, including empathic listening, referral to wraparound services (such arsenic intelligence wellness care), and struggle intervention. The app offers a trauma-informed alternate to contacting the police, which tin successful immoderate cases intensify violence.

By connecting with the program, Corley gained entree to escaped mediation services that yet allowed her lad to travel calmly face-to-face with the different boy. After proceeding each different out, the teens realized they were much alike than different. Threats of intimidation and unit rapidly gave mode to unfastened dialog and understanding. By the extremity of the meeting, they agreed connected a declaration of peace: a Philly Truce.

The masterminds down this speech are Steven Pickens and Mazzie Casher, natives of North Philly, friends, and cofounders of the Philly Truce app. Pickens, a archetypal responder for the section occurrence department, and Casher, a hip-hop artist, met successful precocious schoolhouse 3 decades ago. Today, the 2 men are successful their 40s and person go cardinal pillars of their section Black community.

“In parts of Philadelphia, radical are prisoners successful their ain homes,” Pickens explains. “People person to beryllium cautious successful definite neighborhoods conscionable to beryllium connected their ain beforehand steps.”

For astir of their lives, Casher and Pickens felt similar weapon unit was an inevitability. “We became hopeless. We became numb, and we benignant of accepted the communicative that this is the mode it is successful the city. This is the mode it is betwixt Black and Brown people, betwixt mediocre radical and the police,” Casher says. Like galore folks that person experienced the reverberations of analyzable trauma, numbness felt similar the lone coping mechanics wrong reach.