Multiple large teen gatherings near Temple University spark major concern

A Philly youth advocacy group is voicing their concerns about an ongoing trend of large teenage gatherings happening near the Temple University campus. 

"What we have to do in the city of Philadelphia is do one thing that we don’t want to do; admit that we have a problem," said Mel Wells, the President and CEO of "One Day At a Time" in North Philly.

A problem that Wells says is the reason videos from Saturday night have been going viral showing large gatherings of young people at Cecil B Moore and North Broad Street, near Temple University’s Campus. 

The gatherings often lead to violence and gunfire, but Saturday was not the first time this has happened. 

On Friday, hundreds of teens were causing problems and back in February, another gathering resulted in windshields being smashed and gunshots fired, all at the same location. 


Suspect sought after gunshots, huge crowd of juveniles cause chaos near Temple: officials

Philadelphia police were forced to step in as turmoil unfolded near Temple’s campus Saturday night, and now officials are searching for a suspect they say shot off at least two gunshots among the rowdy group of juveniles.

"You are seeing kids that need families, you are seeing kids that need homes, maybe they do have their families, maybe they do have their homes, but they need structure," says Wells. 

Wells and his group are trying to help solve the problem by providing young people with positive alternatives and mentorship. 

"We have a program right inside of Temple that Temple supports. We have a game room, we have flag football at Temple, it’s literally right across the street from where it happened. You have fifty kids that are coming out to that, you have basketball at Temple, you have all these safe spaces, why are we doing that because that’s where they can get connected to a mentor," said Jamison Hicks, Family & Youth Director of Operations at ODAAT. 

Officials say fixing the issue doesn’t just start and end with the kids. 

It takes the city, police, organizations, and most importantly the parents, who the group says they are always trying to work with. 

"Those who all have been affected by the devastation of poverty, that’s what you see going on right now. You are starting to see the things that are going on in these kids living rooms, happening right here now on the streets from that video you seen. So, what we do is try to bring families back together," said Wells. 

FOX 29 reached out to the Mayor’s office and Philadelphia Police about the issue, but at the time this story aired they did not respond. 

Temple University Police released a statement about the incidents over the weekend stating in part: 

"Since last semester, Temple Police have stationed a marked patrol vehicle and police officer at the corner of Broad and Cecil B. Moore during busy high volume pedestrian times. Additionally, a security officer is and has been stationed at the corner 24/7. We will continue to evaluate measures to deter unlawful behavior, while recognizing people’s First Amendment right to assemble. The sidewalks in and around Main Campus are considered public spaces, and groups of people are allowed to gather there. This semester, however, there have been multiple instances where significant groups of unsupervised juveniles have gathered, causing disruptions and sometimes engaging in criminal activity. Some children engaging in this behavior are as young as 10-years-old.  When unlawful activity occurs, PPD and TUPD quickly respond and take action to apprehend those involved and bring order."