Sunday night was quiet. We went to see some friends who live in Center City. Talked politics and family, solved the problems of the world, and did it all while munching on hoagies in their apartment.
When we left to come back to our home in East Mt. Airy, my wife got a phone call. I could hear parts of the conversation as we rode along the Parkway on the way to Kelly Drive.
“Shot 12 times,” said a woman’s voice on the other end of the phone. “Close to Cliveden Street,” she continued. Then she told my wife that one of the neighbors’ children had heard the gunshots.
There was talk of surveillance cameras and witnesses. Talk of bodies and bullets. But when my wife disconnected the call, there was mostly just silence. I didn’t ask her what had happened. I knew someone was dead. But I also knew that when she didn’t share the details, she was trying to protect our teenage kids.
Better to let them to sit in the backseat with their ear buds blaring music than to tell them a man was murdered just a block from our house.
This is what happens when street violence hits home. There’s anger and fear. There’s silence and secrets. There’s the urge to protect the people we love most. Because despite everything we’ve done on our block—from mounting cameras and training for Townwatch to forging relationships with the police who patrol our streets—someone was murdered last night. And that’s the reality we face.
We faced it when we came home and heard a helicopter circling overhead. We faced it when we had a quiet conversation that the kids couldn’t hear. We faced it knowing that they’ll learn what happened anyway.
But as my daughter sat down to watch the Grammys, and screamed with the rest of America when Michelle Obama took the stage; as my son sat down to play Fortnite like 14-year-old boys do, I knew that we’d get through this, just like all the other Philadelphians who hear gunshots and go to work, who see violence and raise their children, who lose loved ones and keep their sanity.
But here’s my question for the brothers doing the shooting. Are you willing to give your life as easily as you take someone else’s? Cause the rest of us gon’ be all right. But unless you stop the shooting, the next life lost could very well be your own.