‘Put down the guns’: Activists call for peace as Philadelphia homicide rate continues to surpass deadliest year on record

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PHILADELPHIA (TAUT) — As the homicide rate in Philadelphia surpasses this time last year, activists are responding to the rising number and calling for peace. On Saturday they marched down Baltimore Avenue to Cobbs Creek Park.

The Commandoes Drill and Drum team led the march for peace as they headed for the Tyhir Barnes Anti-Gun Violence Memorial Basketball Classic.

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“I just say, ‘Lay down the guns,'” Tanisha Pratt-Thomas said. “Lay down your arms, it’s heartbreaking for parents to lose their child.”

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For Pratt-Thomas, it’s personal. Her son would turn 21 on Saturday.

“Tyhir was 15 when he was killed, and it seems these kids are getting younger and younger,” she said.

Philadelphia has now reported at least 326 homicides, four more than around this time last year, the deadliest year on record for the city.

According to the police, 10% of the victims are under the age of 18.

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“It’s so sad, it’s really sad, but that’s why these kinds of events are important,” Terrilynn Donnell said. “It costs us all.”

The Klutch Kings Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club joined the event on Saturday, assisting as mentors and helping provide other outlets for children.

“We just want to do our part, not only when we work for the city, but in our spare time and try to reduce some of this gun violence,” said Sergio Diggs of the Philadelphia Police Department.

As crime rates rise, community members are trying to spread the word about safe spaces and other outlets for kids.

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And Pratt-Thomas encourages parents to stand up to help curb the violence so they don’t have to endure her pain.

“Check your kid’s room, put down the guns,” Pratt-Thomas said. “All I ask is peace. It has to stop and it starts with the parents.”

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Click here for a list of sources for gun violence in Philadelphia.

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