2 anti-violence groups team up for Hug the Block overnight peace patrols across Philadelphia

There is a new boots-on-the-ground effort to keep Philadelphia safe and organizers are calling it Hug the Block. Fed up with the violence, residents and activists are taking safety into their own hands. The effort involves overnight peace patrols in hard-hit communities.

"I've been doing this Philly Truce the whole summer. We been just like touring and helping the community stay safe," said 15-year-old Shamiyr Caves. He is part of the Safe City Boys operated under Philly Truce, an organization that focuses on intervention and mediation to stop violence before it happens.

"It's normal but it's not normal for people in Philadelphia to just be killing everyone," said Shamiyr. That is why he joined Philly Truce, along with other teens, to spend the summer leading peace patrols around the city engaging businesses and people on the streets about getting involved.

"So, the sign basically says if you wasn't involved you couldn't be a snitch or you can't be a snitch because that's a code for criminals," said Mazzie Casher, reading a sign the kids are hanging up around the city. He is the co-founder of Philly Truce.


The Safe City Boys initiative will wrap next week before the start of school.

"This is my community. I am responsible for what happens here, how it looks here and what I do here," said Jon McKay leading the boys on a chant as they walked 52nd Street in West Philly Friday evening. But, beginning Tuesday, for 77 nights, Philly Truce will co-launch another intervention campaign. It is called Hug the Block. It is an extension of an effort started by the D.A.’s Office that identified blocks with 10 or more shootings since 2015.

"We going to hit every one of them. We going to do a peace patrol vigil at night, 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., really to motivate and inspire everybody on those blocks to come out and start that practice from the day we show up, ongoing and just start to reclaim our communities," said Casher.

Philly Truce is partnering with longtime Philadelphia anti-gun violence activist Jamal Johnson. He is the founder of Stop Killing Us. They are hoping to reach residents.

"If they see us doing it overnight and, hopefully we'll make it through without a problem, then hopefully they'll see that they can come out even in the daytime. Because right now, as you know, a lot of people are even scared to come out in the daytime," said Johnson.

More information can be found on the Philly Truce website.