“Warriors make the best peacekeepers.” -Queen Mother Falaka Fattah
A Perfect Storm Raises An Army of Peacekeepers
Partners In Peace Complete First Round Ceasefire Over Thanksgiving Holiday Week
Philadelphia, PA - (November 30, 2021) The first round of a Gun Violence Ceasefire launched by Partners In Peace, an intergenerational coalition of community stakeholders and organizations, is helping to create a new reality of collaboration, unity, and peace efforts for Philadelphia. This first round began on Monday, 22 November 2021 at 12:00 A.M. (E.D.T.) and ended 12:00 am on Monday, 29 November 2021. Everyday peacekeepers canvassed within the designated ceasefire zone by handing out flyers, greeting community members, and connecting with store owners. Friday and Saturday community businesses were supported and a healthy walk from West Philly Peace Park to Malcolm X Park. The week ended on Sunday 28 November 2021 with a free-to-the-community family day at Universal Bluford School where there were learning and coloring activities for children (including a life size gingerbread house), games such as scrabble, pinochle, and dominoes, resources from LIHEAP application and housing support to food and clothing giveaway. Also, vegan chefs fed everyone the most delicious carrot salad and soup. Anthony Bannister, Community Outreach Director, provided V/R play, music, and literature from the House of Umoja. Philly Peace Park gave away mud cloth face masks and natural lip balms.
Every Saturday for over 30 years, the House of Umoja has hosted weekly community meetings. In 2021 Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, President of the House of Umoja, reformatted the meetings to allow community members to present their solutions or businesses the first half hour and then the second half hour the community gives feedback and how they can help move the initiative forward. On November 6, 2021 some gang members who were part of the No Gang War In ‘74 Gang Conference and signed the Imani Peace Pact came to the meeting informing that they are organizing to help return peace to the streets. On Saturday November 13th, Mr. Tommy Joshua Caison, Founder and Executive Director of Philly Peace Park (www.phillypeacepark.org) came to the meeting to present his 10-10-10 plan to be executed around a series of ceasefires during the holiday seasons. The community loved the plan and the community then became Partners In Peace.
At the request of Mr. Caison, the House of Umoja organized a press conference on Sunday, 21 November 2021. The Gun Violence Ceasefire is the brainchild of Mr. Caison and serves as the vehicle for creating the new reality of peace for Philadelphia he envisions.
“As we discussed during the press conference, Queen Mother Falaka Fattah started the legendary House of Umoja in 1968 which grew directly out of the historic Black Power Conference. With her late husband The Honorable David Fattah, who was the chief negotiator for a peace conference attended by 500 members of Philadelphia’s street organizations held at 1810 Ridge Avenue, the former Farmers Market, they led the historic ‘No Gang War In 74’ Campaign which led to the 1974 Imani Peace Pact agreed to by over eighty street organizations which ended gang violence in the City of Philadelphia. Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, recognizes the great importance, hard work and value of all anti-violence groups in the city and is calling for all organizations striving for peace in the city to join forces to ‘Return Peace In The Streets’. The ending of violence in our community will spawn a renaissance that has not been witnessed in the history of our people and in the history of Philadelphia. Partners in Peace selected West Philadelphia as the venue for Round One of the Gun Violence Cease Fire. The West Philadelphia Gun Violence Ceasefire Zone is at 49th Street through 59th Street from Girard Avenue to Master Street and encompasses the Carroll Park neighborhood which is a component of a Violence-Free Zone in Philadelphia’s 19th Police District. Carroll Park is bounded by Girard Avenue to the South of Lansdowne Avenue to the North, North 63rd Street to the West and North 53rd Street to the East.
So far we have distributed over 5,000 pieces of literature that call for a truce, a ceasefire, and to uphold life. We knocked on the doors of at least 450 homes informing members of the community about the ceasefire and Partners In Peace. Partners In Peace is calling for one hundred men and women from our impacted communities to donate two hours per day for the ceasefire periods. With a goal to negotiate Mutual Code Of Conduct Interim Community Agreements, the 100 Peacekeepers will form ten teams of ten leaders to cover ten blocks within a ceasefire zone. This is known as the ‘10 -10-10 Strategy’ which I developed,” Mr. Caison remarked.
Partners In Peace debriefed on Monday, November 29, 2021 to determine the progress of Round One of the Gun Violence Ceasefire and its review of the Philadelphia Police Department’s gun violence statistics revealed that no incidences of fatal and nonfatal gun violence were reported in the Carroll Park Gun Violence Ceasefire Zone on Thanksgiving Day. Research conducted by Partners In Peace of statistics for Calendar Year 2021 identified West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia as “gun violence hot spots”. The research also identified individuals in the 18 to 30 age group as the age group that has sustained and continues to sustain the highest number of fatal and nonfatal gun violence injuries, while individuals in the 31 to 45 age group are the next highest age group sustaining and continuing to sustain fatal and nonfatal gun violence injuries. High unemployment and high levels of food insecurity exist in each of these gun violence hot spots.
Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, President of the House of Umoja and mentor for the Partners In Peace, elaborated, “In addition to calling for a truce and ceasefire, establishing Gun Violence Cease Fire Zones, and placing peacekeepers in the Gun Violence Cease Fire Zone to patrol their neighborhoods, we are going back to the future. When we state ‘Return peace to the streets,’ we acknowledge that there once was peace in the streets. We are returning to strategies that worked with the people who manifested the peace. Fifty years ago, in 1971 the City of Philadelphia was traumatized by violence fueled by bloody and deadly gang warfare. That year 435 souls were victims of gun violence. Now 50 years later, in 2021, the City of Philadelphia once again finds itself grappling with out-of-control gun violence. On January 1, 1974, more than 500 gang members from across the city met in North Philadelphia to discuss a way to end their territorial blood war. The killings were going on. They were raging. My late husband Mr. David Fattah and I opened our home in 1969 to gang members. It had become a respite for young men seeking peace, and we asked them how to end the bloodshed, which was being recorded with daily scores in the local newspaper. We visited every prison in Pennsylvania where there were gang members incarcerated, and we asked them to help us plan the conference. They picked New Year’s Day – 1 January 1974. They said everyone makes New Year’s resolutions. Mothers were being shot, children were being killed, and little children could not come outside to play. My husband David Fattah wrote the Imani Pledge which was a peace pact and helped broker the peace agreement among the gangs. We had it set up United Nations-style. We had all these people sitting in a circle, and we were resolving conflicts. During his lifetime, when my husband looked back at how the peace agreement between the gangs came about, he remarked that the question of manhood changed and asked, “Would you show strength by killing somebody, or could you show strength by not killing somebody and being a man of your word?’ By the end of 1974, eighty leaders from Philadelphia’s 105 gangs had signed the Imani Pledge. The souls who signed the Imani Pledge kept their word. They have not engaged in violence in 47 years. They are now Fathers, Grandfathers and some are Great Grandfathers. Here we are 47 years later, and we are asking a new generation of young souls to usher in the new reality of peace for Philadelphia by signing the Imani Pledge. Partners In Peace are asking a new generation of young souls to honor their Fathers, Grandfathers, and Great Grandfathers by not only signing the Imani Pledge, but by showing their strength by not taking the life of another soul and keeping their word. Strength and manhood is about keeping your word and not about taking the life of another soul. The Imani Pledge can be found at https://www.houseofumoja.net/imani-pledge.html."
To learn more about the intergenerational collective of community stakeholders and organizations – Partners In Peace – and its Gun Violence Ceasefire Zones and how you may help and volunteer, contact Queen Mother Falaka Fattah, President of the House of Umoja, Inc. at (215) 473-5893 or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org and Mr. Tommy Joshua Caison Founder and Executive Director of Philly Peace Park at (215) 307-7102 or send an e-mail to: email@example.com.
For further information about Philly Peace Park which has distributed 3,000 pounds of free fresh and healthy produce to community members since 2018 and through several school partnerships provides students enrolled in Grades K through 12 with ecologically-based programs that comprise planting, harvesting, landscape design and construction, composting, pollinators, plant identification, and art, visit its website at www.philly peacepark.org.
For further information about the House of Umoja, Inc. visit its website at www.houseofumoja.net.. Established in 1968, the House of Umoja, Inc. is an internationally acclaimed organization recognized by former United States Presidents The Honorable James Earl Carter, Jr. and the late Honorable Ronald Reagan. for its pioneering work in the areas of gang reduction, youth programming, and community organizing which has been documented in published articles such as A Summons To Life, by Robert Woodson of the American Enterprise Institute in 1981 and The Violent Juvenile Offender by Paul DeMuro and Richard Allison of the National Council On Crime And Delinquency in 1984.