'We're looking at a warzone': Community organizers reflect on the impact of gun violence in Philadelphia

Advocates and community organizers in Philadelphia are calling for a change after a rise in gun violence, which has started to claim the lives of children and teenagers. 

On Monday, 15-year-old Juan "J.R." Carlos Robles-Corona was fatally shot while walking home from school in North Philadelphia. 

Juan Carlos Robles-Corona, who went by "J.R.", was shot and killed in North Philadelphia. 

His death came a little more than a week after another 15-year-old was shot and killed in Wissonoming. 

Chantay Love, the President and co-founder of Every Murder Is Real (EMIR), and Reuben Jones, the Executive Director of the Teen Safe Center in North Philadelphia, joined Good Day Philadelphia to discuss how they are working to combat violence and keep young people safe. 

EMIR was started after Love's brother was murdered at the age of 20 in Philadelphia in March 1997. "He was murdered and it changed the life of our family," Love said. "My mother will never be the same and my father was never the same." 



Although the man who killed her brother is in prison, Love says no one walks away unscathed. "There are no winners. My mother screamed and the pain that she had and my father's pain when the young man got sentenced," she said. "His parents screamed as well. The only thing is that they get to see him." 

Her personal experience dealing with loss caused by gun violence makes today's news of young people being gunned down even more heartbreaking. 

"We are looking at a warzone and we're looking at a community that we, with my partner here and a lot of community members, are working to bring back to some resiliency, some thriving and some life," Love said. 

J.R. was fatally shot about a block away from the Teen Safe Center led by Jones. 

The center was created as a safe space for children between the ages of 12 to 17 to gather after school to do homework, research, play video games or grab food to eat. 

"I grew up in North Philadelphia, so our whole goal was to provide that safe haven for young people like J.R. and unfortunately we weren't able to reach him and prevent that horrific loss, but our goal is to reach all the other kids in North Philadelphia that we can," he said. 

Jones, who attended the vigil for J.R., said he went feeling like a failure because a young life was killed when he's been entrusted to change the community. 

So far in 2022, Philadelphia has seen a rise in gun crimes and murders with 126 homicides as of April 5 and the advocates have opinions about what may be the cause. 

"I think there's a lot of different reasons, but part of it is just a lack of investment in the community," he said. "Poverty, a lot of drugs are prevalent, it's a lot of unemployment, anger and there's kind of a perfect storm of things going on." 

Love says a multi-prong approach must be taken in order to combat the violence plaguing the streets. 

EMIR offers trauma healing services to help those in neighborhoods impacted. "Our key thing is to deal with the trauma," she said. "Those who have been exposed in the front end and in the back end because we believe that untreated trauma perpetuates violence." 





SUBSCRIBE: Good Day Digest Newsletter | FOX 29 Philly on YouTube

FOLLOW: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter